McKenzie Iazzetta and her journey from Berklee student to soul-crushing superstar
“Vodka in a Poland Spring water bottle”—that’s how McKenzie Iazzetta’s bandmates described Trophy Wife.
“What a terrible thing—the idea of going to have a sip of water in the morning after being out at night and it not being what you want it to be,” said Iazzetta, laughing.
And maybe over the last two years the growth of Trophy Wife was unexpected—Iazzetta wrote songs for classes or while journaling, but never with the intention of recording them.
The moniker for Iazzetta’s musical project, Trophy Wife, began when Iazzetta first came to the Berklee College of Music in 2018. After writing down those songs, her roommates finally convinced her to record and release them. Iazzetta began recording with her roommates, it was only a matter of time before she took her acoustic sets and turned them into full-band performances.
After performing in a friend’s living room, the band got a taste of house shows—and they were hooked. When tasked with deciding where to live in Allston, the group aimed for houses with basements so they, too, could start hosting shows of their own.
Once the search for a basement was complete, all they needed was to find some bands and create a performance space. After planning themed shows and finding a name to tie it all together, “The Alamo” was ready to rock.
Despite the historical urging to “remember” its namesake, Iazzetta laughed when asked why the house was named the Alamo.
“The first show we threw was … cowboy-themed and we made everyone show up in a cowboy costume or else we wouldn’t let them in,” said Iazzetta.
As a full band, the first show they played in the Alamo basement was called “Ladies’ Night.” The bill consisted of Trophy Wife, Paper Lady and Rat Cat Bastard, along with a dress code: show up in a gown. In typical Allston fashion, Iazzetta’s basement was packed with spectators with not nearly enough room to breathe, sweat or think.
“We had our house filled to the brim like sardines.”
Iazzetta said the Alamo was only one of a handful of venues in their Allston neighborhood at the time. And it didn’t get much more DIY than the work Trophy Wife put in to host events and shows in their basement.
“We would sort of just throw stuff together. We would book it—just reach out to people, people reached out to us,” said Iazzetta. “We didn’t even have an email.”
In middle school, she had taken lessons for various instruments like piano, guitar, and violin, to name a few. She even took her work to talent show audiences and to the musical theater enjoyers of Connecticut. Later, while pursuing her degree at Berklee and running a small venue, Iazzetta realized it had always been music.
“I have just always known that music was what I was going to do,” said Iazzetta.
Trophy Wife became the new vehicle to share the songs Iazzetta wrote and subsequently recorded with her roommates. While headed up by Iazzetta, her bandmates include drummer Michael Martelli and bassist Christian Pace. The three have been playing shows both in Massachusetts and New York City over the last few years.
Post-college, writing music has been different for Iazzetta. The transition from being in school to being, well, not, started to come through in the songs Iazzetta began writing for what would become Trophy Wife’s second EP—“Voyeur.”
“Voyeur” differs from the band’s first EP, “Bruiser” (2021), which, Iazzetta said, is a collection of songs never intended to be released. The themes of each piece did not necessarily fit together at the start, but they all echoed the same idea of introspection. The EP is a retrospective of who we might have become once upon a time.
However, “Voyeur” adopted a different shape. “Voyeur” was much like a worldlier older sister to Trophy Wife’s first EP. It reflected the growth and wisdom Iazzetta had adopted throughout college and post graduation.
“I think that the overall themes sort of end up being similar. … Like with ‘Voyeur,’ we came up with that title eventually as we were joking around, but [it is] sort of this idea of watching yourself, you know, and trying to do pain and sadness and anger and guilt in the sexiest, most beautiful way, for some reason.”
“Voyeur” is a vulnerable admission that being a 20-something-year-old woman, or even just a person living on this earth now, is a struggle all its own. The songs were all written by Iazzetta, with collaboration from the band when putting the pieces together.
The writing process spanned from 2021 to 2022. Bits and pieces came together over that year, some coming through as a reflection of post-college life, all with little certainty about what she intended to keep for the EP.
“Voyeur” was distilled down to five songs about being alive and the challenge it proves to be for anyone who just wants to feel loved or seen by the world while trying to figure oneself out as a young adult.
The reflections and admissions on both EPs showcase Trophy Wife’s commitment to vulnerability. There is already so much uncertainty, but to know that, as a young person, you don’t have to be the only one feeling the pressure is almost reassuring.
It’s a sign that there isn’t a need to keep performing while one is down, whether that be the crippling fear, anger, sadness, or guilt holding you there. No matter who it is, the experience is universal, and Trophy Wife is here to share that reminder—whether clad in cowboy attire or the finest of gowns, with a water bottle full of vodka.
This article was produced for HorizonMass, the independent, student-driven, news outlet of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and is syndicated by BINJ’s MassWire news service.
Julia Norkus (she/they) is a HorizonMass reporter. A journalist and photographer at Emerson College, their focus lays with the arts, with a passion for music and performance. As an Emerson student, she acts as Editor-in-Chief of WECB.fm’s Milk Crate, a music publication, as well as the host of WECB.fm radio show “Lavender Tea”. In their free time, Norkus loves bike rides, attending local shows in Allston and collaging.