An Interview with Zach Deputy - OurVinyl

An Interview with Zach Deputy

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Zach Deputy is a one man band in demand. Unaccompanied by band mates, Zach effortlessly has formulated an advantageous act on stage that is matchless in the music scene. Equipped with electronic back-up singers, harmonies, drums kits, effects pedals and the strikingly soulful voice of Zach himself, one may wonder, what made him want to take on such an enormous and involved task independently? The man who sings about everything from collard greens to coconuts and earning the comparison of familiar famous artists such as Stevie Wonder, Keller Williams and James Brown, Zach has proven to be a widely influenced and imaginative musician. He confidently pleases his crowd and fans alike while delivering entertaining acts of soulful jazz, hip hop, funk, reggae, and of course his wonderful beat boxing dance tracks.

During his interview with Our Vinyl, Zach shared the intent behind his latest album, discussed his most recent musical experiences in Puerto Rico, and shared some interesting facts about his band, his artistic objective and the way he perceives his own fans.

Our Vinyl: You recently performed at Jungle Jam in Puerto Rico, running into musicians like Oteil Burbridge (Allman Brothers) and Bill Kreutzmann (Grateful Dead). That must have been an amazing trip?

Zach Deputy: (yawning) Jungle jam was ridiculous. You’re in a different country, different culture, the people there are awesome. Musically I had the time of my life. Yes, I got to play with Otiel Burbridge, which is my favorite bass player in the world. It was pretty fun. We had some good times. (I don’t really remember what we played so much because we were mostly just making up songs.) I played late night jams and I played in town a couple times which was really awesome and the locals came out and it was really amazing.

Zach Deputy’s Into The Morning

OV: Your live shows are so incredible because you’re extremely diverse. You have a very interesting ethnic background being part Puerto Rican, Irish, African, British, French, Cherokee… all those influences seem to shine through your music and when you play live you incorporate your hip hop, reggae and classic soul and everyone loves it, though I didn’t really get all that diversity and hype from your latest album, Another Day

ZD: It was kind of like an album for me. I basically said, “forget what anybody else is perceiving at the moment or what people think I should do” and I wanted to put down some of the songs that I just played when I was hanging out by myself, when I wasn’t actually trying to entertain anybody. Some people say they don’t understand and it’s a whole new direction, but for me it’s a not a whole new direction, it’s just something I do. My whole take on this album, I don’t know if my fan base will get it or not but I don’t really care, and I also think that people that have nothing to do with my fan base will love it. It’s like Babe Ruth, it’s’ either gonna hit a home run or it’s gonna strike out. It’s definitely not meant to please everybody. For me it was more meant to put out songs I feared I’d never put out. I have a lot of them and this album only has 11. But there are so many tunes I think will just get shelved and never get put out; this was one for me.

OV: You’ve gotten a lot of AAA radio play from this album. Even if it’s not your fan base, you’re right, people out there love it. Do you get lost in pleasing other as an artist?

ZD: For me I love it all, I love all my albums, it’s all me. And people grow to expect certain things from you and there’s more to you than those things that they expect. As you get bigger as an artist, people start contradicting other people. So other people are saying, “Zach you should do more this and that, do more funk, I really like the ballades…” and then you hear the conflicting ideas where people want exactly the opposite of what other people want. And it comes to a point in time where you just have to say, “What do I want to do?” I might play a show and it might be nothing but funk one night and the next night and it might be mellow, and the next night I’m dance hall calypso. If they just see one show every 6 months and you try to think that’s my new sound, then you completely and utterly do not get what I’m doing or what I’m going for. And if you come to my show expecting a very specific sound, then expect to be disappointed.

OV: Your sound is so diverse and unique. For familiarity purposes curious music fans ask about your sound, and while no one wants to drop Keller Williams’ name, the live looping earns such comparison when it comes to your style. What we wanted to know is, how did you decide to do it all yourself and create this incredible one man band?

ZD: It was an accident – my bass player couldn’t make it to his show and I didn’t want to cancel the gig and I had a delay pedal that also could act as a loop pedal, and the first time I did it, I did it live. That was probably 9 years ago. I remember everyone really enjoying it, and I thought it was a terrible set. So I said, “man if it’s this bad right now and people like it this much, imagine if it was good.”

OV: Your mic set up, do you have all those going to different effects? What is going on up there?

ZD: One is for my vocals, the other is nothing but reverb, three go to the loop and can also add delay, there’s one for my high hat and snare, my vocal synthesizer or back up vocals also have harmonies. It sounds like I have back up singers. I also have a kick drum sound and they all serve different vital functions.

OV: You have no problem staying busy traveling. Chicago and Colorado are your next stops after tonight. We wish you the best of luck and thank you so very much for coming to Columbus, Ohio to perform.

ZD: Always a pleasure. Thank you.

Conveniently located in the green room was a terribly out of tune piano, which Zach comfortably sat down with and played a beautiful impromptu jam, providing effortless enthusiasm for his photo shoot. This was a side of Zach never seen before; endorsing his own truth and proving there’s material yet to be appreciated and pulled off the shelf of his artistic talent and style. While fans tend to demand his soul, his hip hop, the reggae, they want to dance to the funky beat boxing and get lost in his incredibly ranged voice, Zach simply just wants to create and be heard with no expectations. He made it clear that the artist inside him will only answer to and sing through one voice; his own. After all, it’s easy to please the people with requests, but it’s much more difficult to answer to your Self, ride that wave with confidence, and know you’ve done what you want to do. Zach Deputy truly is a genuine fellow with an endearing artistic pride.

Written by Abby Miller

Photos by Brian Hockensmith. To see more pictures from this show just click here.