Originally from Sunderland, singer-songwriter and producer Zach is now based in Leeds, he self produces, as well as playing multiple instruments on his tracks.
He has recently released a new single ‘Blue Skies’ now available on Spotify, iTunes and all the other major streaming/purchasing platforms.
Strong Americana/Country and British Folk influences can be heard on his tracks as well as his North East accent.
Tell us about your creative journey
I started singing in school when I was about eleven. I thought I was pretty good at it so when I got to secondary school I joined the school choir. I was pretty terrible at sports and I wasn’t that good in the choir either but it seemed like a much better way to meet girls at the time! My music teacher there was really amazing and would give me the keys to the drum room during lunch breaks where I spent every day for about 6 months playing ‘Seven Nation Army’ over and over with my “band” mate, Kieran. I kept playing different instruments until I decided on guitar when I was about 16. I’m actually a grade 8 in keyboards but have completely forgotten how to play! Partly on purpose to open up my mind creatively again after about 8 years of classical training.
When did you first become interested in writing your own songs?
I used to write a lot of stories when I was a kid and when I became interested in music as a teenager, that just kind of naturally evolved into songwriting. I got bullied a lot as a teenager and writing songs really helped get those emotions out at the time. I never showed anyone any of my songs until I was about sixteen. I started playing in real bands around then and wrote a few basic pop-punk songs with them but a couple years later I just started writing my own stuff and playing them at music college. People really seemed to like them and it made me feel amazing!
I don’t remember the exact first song I wrote but sometimes a phone recording of the very first ones will come on my iPod shuffle and it’s always horrendous! Especially if it happens in front of people… But some of them actually have some decent lines and chord progressions which is pretty cool! Others are just me screaming “I FEEL COLD!” over one note on a keyboard haha. The first song of my own that I performed was called ‘Going Away’ and it wasn’t half bad. It’s probably hanging around on an old YouTube channel somewhere still!
What inspires you to create music and lyrics?
A lot of things inspire me to be honest. I really love writing lyrics so they can often be inspired by simple things like a conversation on TV or on the bus but sometimes they’re a lot deeper with a political message. One of my newer songs, ‘Casino’, is quite political and touches on gentrification, minimum wage and high living costs. It’s really catchy though and because I perform it pretty passionately, people really relate to it and sing along at my shows.
Tell us about your newly released single! What inspired it, can you say what its about or would you rather others take what they wish from it?
Well my new single is a bit different to my usual material. A lot of my songs have quite an obvious message told through a story. Blue Skies is less on the nose, which I think it needs. Sometimes I explain my songs at shows before playing them but never with Blue Skies. It’s definitely one that’s open to interpretation. I think whatever you want to get from it, you’ll get. It’s been a lot of fun hearing what other people have said about it so far! It was also pretty fun to make because it’s with a band this time, it’s actually been in the making since 2016! The next release definitely won’t take that long, but I am looking forward to experimenting with a band more.
Who would you say your influences are? Name some favourite artists
My favourite artists are all very American and not usually well known here at home sadly! John Fullbright and Josh T Pearson are definitely two of my biggest inspirations. I saw them both on Jooles Holland originally. When I saw John Fullbright play I thought “Yes! That’s it! That’s the sound I’ve been trying to get out of me!” and bought his album ‘From The Ground Up’ immediatly, without even listening to it first. It’s still probably my favourite album. I actually met Josh T Pearson after his gig at The Leftbank a few years ago. He was such a nice guy! He recommended this book called ‘The War of Art’ and it really changed my perspective on writing.
Was your move from Sunderland to Leeds a choice you made for your career in music? If so how has this impacted it and what are the opportunities like in Leeds for artists trying to make it
I moved to Leeds for university in 2013, I studied Music Production at Beckett and I’ve been in love ever since! I was supposed to spend a year in Australia but I missed Leeds and it’s amazing music scene so much, I came home really last minute after six months. Leeds has so many opportunities for upcoming artists. The music community here is pretty tight-knit but super friendly if you’re trying to break into it. The amount of times I’ve bought some used music gear online and when I go to pick it up, it ends up being a promotor or an engineer or something I already know is crazy! But not only that, the people here seem really interested to come see the shows. Some of my songs are really quiet and emotional but usually Leeds crowds are more than happy to be quiet and listen.
Any releases you know of this year that you’re excited for?
I was pinning all my expectations on Josh T Pearson’s new album, ‘The Straight Hits’. It seems to be doing really well on Radio 6 but I still can’t make my own mind up about it. It’s so different to his usual material. I am looking forward to hearing the new Tom Williams album though. I was an engineer on his last record and he decided to keep the same band for his next one. I’m mates with all the band so I’m looking forward to hearing what they come out with!
Have your recent travels helped you to write music over there/give you some inspiration for some up coming tracks?
Definitely! I didn’t have a guitar most of the time while I was travelling so I have a lot of ideas written down that still need working on. It also helped me write lyrics before the music more effectively. I definitely feel a lot more motivated since moving back to Leeds and I’m already working on my next release for later in the year.don’t worry about it : )
LS6 Cafe, Leeds – June 17th and July 9th
Follow his social media for gig and music updates.
Currently, Zach tries to play every open mic he can around Leeds, his favourite being Northern Guitars on a Monday night. He plans on booking a full gig there soon.