Hamilton’s Newest Earworm 

By Victoria Somers

Some songs just work, like “Operators Are Standing By” by Mackenzie Kristjon’s rock and roll brand This Mad Desire, that was just released everywhere this summer. It is the first single in a series of recordings that will eventually come together as a full-length next year.

Mackenzie publishes books, reviews theatre, consults on business, does background acting, and writes killer songs. In this case, he came across the expression “Operators Are Standing By” and thought there were a lot of ways that idea could be re-contextualized and proceeded to write the song in about as long as it takes to sing it. 

After trying it out at the Dundas Music Club and other places around Hamilton, he decided to make it his next single. Mark Zubek (Zedd Records) -two-time John Lennon Song writing Competition winner- produced the track in Toronto. The song’s lyrics reference Adam and Eve, a female American president, relationships gone wrong, and redemption. All over a very dance-y, hooky beat with vibraphones and glockenspiels providing unique ear candy. 

It was quickly apparent that this song deserved video treatment. Enter Simon Winterson. “Some songs just stick. It’s like superglue: you’ve got 20secs and then you’re caught. That’s exactly what happened the first time I heard Operators Are Standing By. Right from this first moment, I knew I wanted to do the music video, and after discussions with Mac about the emotions behind the lyrics, I knew it had to be an expressive, fun-filled, layered video full of local characters.” 

Photos by This Mad Desire

With Simon on board, the video was filmed at Simon’s studio, Digital Canaries, which is a sprawling, 66,000 sq. foot film studio right here in Hamilton with a large number of standing sets including a courthouse, the White House Oval Office, a jail, a hospital, some houses, and costumes galore. 

Which is where I came in. Easily, the most fun time I have ever had on-set was working as the Wardrobe Manager for the Operators video. In our case, we had around twenty people and several professional dancers in all kinds of fun scenes. People were dressed as police, inmates, flight attendants, nurses, surgeons, and on and on. I have to admit that there was a genuine feeling of camaraderie on set as we learned our dance moves and improvised very funny scenes. I also portray the woman in the break-up scene in the second verse. Ask me about that one if you see me around. 

CBC Ontario recently selected it as Top 3 Tracks of the Week to hear. Mackenzie says, “I was traveling to Manitoba when, in Thunder Bay, the song came on the radio. Adam Carter and Craig Norris brought up the ‘Neil Young on David Bowie drugs’ phrase that I took from an old review and said that although they cannot imagine anyone being that stoned, this song is very catchy. What was even funnier is they compared it to Sisters of Mercy, who I had never heard before. Actually, I have received a very wide range of comparisons on this track. Everything from Supertramp to Marilyn Manson. If that’s the spectrum, definitely this song is somewhere in between.” 

This Mad Desire will be performing at Artword Artbar on September 9th with the Human Race League and Brandon P. General. Mackenzie’s next song “Paris of Love” will be released this fall. While Operators is available on iTunes, Spotify, and everywhere else, the vast majority of his catalogue is at thismaddesire.bandcamp.com.