Hi Zack, how are you?
Hi there, I'm well, thanks for taking the time to chat with me.
Which instruments do you play?
I am a singer, guitar player. I dabble in piano as well, for writing purposes.
What made you decide to be a solo artist and not want to be in a band?
For the first few years of my career I was playing solo, developing my own voice and writing style. There became a point about a year ago when I felt it was time to take my songs and add the depth that only a band could bring. So, I went out, found the players, and we've been going ever since. It's been a tremendously amazing experience for me to share the stage with such talented and focused musicians, and has elevated my sound to new heights.
Do you work with the same musicians when recording as you do when performing live?
Yes, I record and perform live with the same group of musicians. Craig Magnano on guitar, Andre Cleghorn on bass, and Adam Jackson on drums.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
I think my sound mixes elements of pop/rock/funk/soul. I have tried to take the "traditional" singer/songwriter sound and fuse it with funky backbeats, soaring hooks, and intricate guitar parts.
What have you been up to recently?
I just recently released a digital EP titled "Dollars Spent On Nothing" available on itunes and other major distributors. I have also been focusing a great deal of time writing new material to start playing live. I am experimenting with my sound, and just recently bought a synth....I guess we'll see where that takes me.
What can your fans look forward to in the next 12 months?
The next 12 months will be full of local shows in NYC, and hopefully touring opportunities. I am dying to get on the road to share my songs with people not in New York City.
Did you always want to be in a musician/singer when younger?
I have always had a deep love for writing music and performing. It wasn't until the past few years though that I thought making it a career could be a reality. Luckily, I have positioned myself around some wonderful people that are helping to turn my dreams into reality.
What music did you listen to while growing up?
I have always had a love for pop music. My first favorite was Michael Jackson. Throughout high school and college I discovered the writing of the Dave Matthews Band, Ben Harper, Paul Simon, and the sonic sound of Motown. Hearing "Songs in the Key of Life" by Stevie Wonder changed my whole perspective of music and made me search out the depth of soul.
How long have you played your instruments?
I have been playing guitar for about 10 years, singing for 4-5 years.
What was your first music making experience?
I remember writing my first songs, but never having the courage to play them. I was lucky enough to travel overseas a few years ago where I joined my first "real" band and began fully realizing my writing and vocal capabilities. I remember getting on stage and playing my songs for an entire set. I felt a deep connection to the music and the audience and knew it was what I wanted to work towards in my life.
What is your current equipment?
I play a Godin Multiac Duet solid body acoustic guitar and a Fender Telecaster electric. I use a Fender Blue Jr amp and run through an Ibanez tube scream and an MXR compression pedal.
Are you self-taught or did you have lessons?
I am completely self taught.
If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
Wow...I would defintely buy a Gibson 335 electric, then some vintage acoustics. Not sure which ones, I would just go play every guitar I could find and feel which one fit right in my hands.
Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?
No, I used a variety of guitars, amp setups on my recording. Some tunes required a more gritty sound, some a more rock sound. So we spent hours tweaking the knobs on each amp and guitar to get the right tones.
Do you have a set routine when writing and recording or does it depend on each track and the inspiration?
Definitely depends on the track. Each song represents something different and in turn requires different motivation, commitment and vibe.
Which software/recording process do you use?
I am pro-tools trained guy.
Would you sign with a major record company?
Yeah, if the deal was right!
Do you have any new recordings planned?
Not currently. Like I said previously, we just released an EP. BUT, I am always demoing tracks for future recording projects.
How much involvement do you have with the arranging and production of the songs when recording?
Tons. I haven't had the opportunity to work with a designated producer yet, so all the arranging and production has been all me. Luckily, I was able to work with a brilliant engineer named Tom Pastro on my latest recording and had the help of my guitar player, Craig Magnano who both gave their insight, ideas and creativity onto the recordings.
Is the production side of things something you’d like to get involved more in the future, maybe working with other artists?
I'm not sure. If opportunities came my way I would definitely entertain them, but my main focus now is on my writing and my progression as an artist.
Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
It definitely gets easier the more I do it. I have become comfortable with the process and the feeling of being in such a controlled environment. That being said, every project is different and has it's own life. I have tried to look at each project individually and make it sound as best I can using the resources I am given.
Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
It all depends. On my latest recording, we tracked all the drums and bass live. No comping, or over-dubbing. I think it gave us a very "live" sounding recording and is a very good representation of what we sound like on the stage. It is so easy to get carried away with things in the studio, and I made a conscious effort to make "Dollars Spent On Nothing" as real sounding as possible.
Do you have any favourite tracks on your album?
No, they all represent something different and convey different messages. I think each song has it's own inherent value.
Do you write songs/tracks only about personal experiences?
No... Some songs come from a personal place, others don't, all depends on when the song finds me.
Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
Tough question. I have always let the song come to me. Usually, my songs come from just noodling on the guitar, and a specific riff or chord progression will stick out. I then formulate the melody around the music. I can go months without anything I like, and the next day write 2 full songs. Inspiration is a strange beast.
Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
Tons on people, but a few at the top of my list would be Ben Harper, Justin Timberlake, and John Mayer.
Who are your favourite songwriters?
Ben Harper, Dave Matthews, Paul Simon, Ray Lamontagne, Amos Lee, Jeff Buckley, Lenny Kravitz, John Butler....sooooo many more that I cant name.
Which countries have you gigged in?
US, Canada and Australia
Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
How do you promote your music and get your music out to new fans?
We have a huge online presence and have focused a lot of energy connecting with fans through Facebook and Twitter. If you're on facebook, friend me! We also play consistently in New York City, and I am involved with several charities in New York City that allows me to bring my music to very different places.
Do you use any websites like ‘Reverbnation’ or ‘Soundclick’?
Of course...the more websites my music can be placed, the better. If there's a website I'm not on, let me know.
Do you think such sites and the internet are good tools for independent and unsigned artists?
Definitely, you never know who is going to connect with your songs, so getting it out to as many people as possible is an amazing thing. There are so many sites that want to help "do it yourself" artists gain exposure through artist features, contests, and rankings. These sites allow the barriers between the artist and fan to be eliminated, and can help establish a direct and real relationship between the two.
Do you get nervous before a gig- how do you calm down?
I'm generally fairly calm before shows. Depending on the night, I can get a tad anxious, but the more I get on stage the more comfortable I am performing my songs or people. Luckily, I know the band behind me will make the music sound as great as it possibly can at any given time.
What else do you do apart from being a singer/songwriter?
I am a bartender in New York City at an amazing place called Nolita House (look it up). I use bartending as a way to network with all the amazing people this city has to offer.
Would you like to be a full time working musician or are you happy with things as they are?
My dream is to be a full time musician. Yes, I am happy with where my career is, but I am constantly pushing myself to become a better player, writer and singer. I look at the steps required to get to the top, not the top itself. I set small goals for myself, and work as hard as I can to obtain them. I often take a step back and recognize the successes I have had so far though.
Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
Yes, I have been lucky enough to have had some of my tunes used in independent films, and well as some pretty funny youtube videos from overseas.