Special Interview: Zach Day

THEAUSSIEWORD.COM goes one on one with international singer and songwriter Zach Day.

How and where did it all begin for you? What drew your interest to the music industry?

I grew up on a farm in Kentucky, learning how to harmonize and play guitar with my friends, my sister, singing in the church house. I was always drawn to music and knew that I wanted to share my story. It was told to me that if I didn’t use it, I’d lose it. God would take away the one thing I felt passion for. The thought terrified me. I made it my duty to learn all I could, even sometimes with limited access. I never quit. 

What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?

Great music I think is subjective. I find inspiration in many things. The sound of a crackling fire, the wind in the trees, strumming simple chords on the guitar… I think that I have an interesting perspective and if you think the music is great, then I’m honored to continue to tell my stories and share my experiences in ways that others might relate to. 

What are some of your biggest goals you hope to accomplish?

I want to discover my identity and where I fit in the music industry. I want to play my songs and move people to question their own beliefs. You may not envy what I’ve been through, but I hope that I inspire people to lean into what makes them unique. People need to hear my songs. 

What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?

I have more songs on the way. Hopefully a few more releases, maybe a full length project. I play out when I can, but my focus is on creating right now! 

Tell us a bit about your latest release and how would you best describe your music?

If It Kills Me is an upbeat, fun, and energetic song. I think you can take from it what you will. It can be about a lover, a family member, or a place. In my mind, it reminds me of where I come from. There have been times where I’ve been ashamed to be from Appalachia. The stigma surrounding it is widely known. But I have a deep love and affinity for my roots. This is just a blip of time where you’ll do whatever it takes to distance yourself from something that you think is holding you back disguised in a catchy melody.

Give us an insight into your creative process. What gets you writing songs?

I’m just telling the truth about my experiences. Writing is an outlet for me to challenge myself. Often times, it can be painful for me to take myself back. Sometimes nostalgic, sometimes joyful. Sometimes I enjoy writing and other times I find myself really emotionally drained. These songs are personal so I have to remove myself from the narrative if I can, but most times I can’t. I pick up my guitar and parse out poetry or couplets that I write down when inspiration strikes me. I’ll sing melodies into my iPhone at 2:30am, then listen back the next day and work with what I dreamt up. I try not to force anything.

Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music? 

I wouldn’t say so. I feel like it’s very blunt and exposed. I do all but write people’s names into the music. Sometimes I’ll even do that, bury a name somewhere in the lyrics… so maybe in that way, yes. 

Success, what is the secret to it?

Success is something that is also relative. To me, success is paying my bills, and being able to do music full time, and enjoying it in the process. I hope to achieve that someday. I feel like I’ve successfully proven to be a good musician who has a lot to offer. 

What has been your biggest career highlight so far?

Maybe getting a message from Carole King who told me she loved my singing, and loved when I would cover It’s Too Late. That was iconic to me! 

Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?

I’m very inspired by women in music. I grew up listening to Joni Mitchell, Carole King, the Carpenters, Fleetwood Mac, Mamas and the Papas, Dolly Parton. Something about hearing a woman share her story in the form of music resonated with me. I was raised by women. I’m the only boy in my family so it makes sense to look to female musicians for inspiration. I would study nuances in voices like Alison Krauss, Amy Winehouse, and Lauryn Hill. Today I listen to a lot of Lorde. 

Are there any new projects in the pipeline?

Yes, a ton of new stuff on the way!

The music industry is constantly changing, where do you see yourself a few years?

I see myself touring, playing these songs for people all over the place. Seeing cities I’ve only ever dreamed of and telling the story of a little gay boy from the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. 

What is your favourite and least favourite part about this line of work and why?

My favorite thing is performing. I love to sing. I love to share space with people who are interested in hearing what I have to say. My least favorite part is probably the social media aspect of it all. Feeling like you have to create a persona online, scheduling when to post videos of yourself, thinking in tweets… is tough. 

Name a few of your favourite Australian artists.

I met Keith Urban and he was so kind and I love his voice and his songs. I also always thought Olivia Newton-John was the most beautiful woman ever and had the voice of an angel. And of course, I’ve covered Can’t Get You Out Of My Head by Kylie Minogue for years. 

The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?

It’s terrifying. I’ve never necessarily written music with that idea in mind. I’ve just written as an escape. Working on music with the idea of people actually hearing it is exciting, nerve wracking, and scary all at once. 

How will you continue appealing to the international market?

How many gay singer songwriters from the backwoods of Kentucky have you heard? Probably not many! Hahaha I have enough stories to tell, and experiences to share that everyone can relate to despite where we come from. I think people will want to know more. It’s in our very nature to get to the bottom of it all. 

Do you collaborate with others? Who is on your wish-list?

I do, and it’s been a beautiful experience. Singing in a three part harmony folk trio my whole life, collaboration is all I knew. I want to sing a song with Brandi Carlile. I’d also die to work with Justin Vernon, Lennon Stella, Kimbra, SZA, and Shania Twain to name a few. 

What advice do you give for other artists wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Be true to who you are, be honest with your music, and do your homework. Lean into what makes you powerful, and study those who inspire you. 

A message for your fans. How do you best interact and respond with your followers and fans?

Instagram comments, tiktok messages, eventually I’ll start a newsletter to send in emails with photos, poems, and musings. 

Any last words?

I’m so grateful for the opportunities that have come my way recently. I’m growing a lot, learning a ton, and writing more than ever. I’m excited to show you all what’s to come. You’re going to love it. 

Website: youknowzach.com

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