Zach Leon // Feature Friday
Written by: Kayla Lee
Sailawayheart, a 13 track album from Nashville based indie pop artist Zach Leon, was released this towards the end of 2017. While each track has its own unique sound, the entire album flows together to create a varied offering of Zach Leon's musical capabilities.
The opening track "California (Girls Don't Sing)" has the qualities of an Ed Sheeran-esque song due to the laid back vocals style and easy going vibe-- it's definitely sing along worthy and perfect to throw onto whatever playlist you have for those carefree summer days. I was expecting the rest of the album to carry the same style, but I was in for a surprise!
The next track, "The Villain," is reminiscent of a musical theater performance due to the composition and vocal delivery, along with the addition of a piano which offers a fuller sound than the other songs on this album. Walking through the internal dialogue revolving around a breakup, wondering what went wrong, and realizing that you're seen in a negative light, this number lets the listener explore the thoughts of someone who's left wondering "what happened?" ("When did I go and become the villain? / I always thought I was the good guy.")
"Sad Tonight" is a straightforward and stripped down sad song. Opening with the lines "I'm alright / I'm just gonna be sad tonight / Can you please just stop asking if something's wrong," Zach's vocals are accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, proving that Zach's vocals are versatile and can hold their own without needing a full band backing them. Sometimes you're feeling down, and it's okay to spend some time with those feelings rather than trying to push them out of your mind.
"A+K" is a breezy summertime bop-- a love song of sorts without the overly lovey dovey lyrics, while "Pretentious Love" shows Zach in a different light. With a slight pop-punk style, "Pretentious Love" certainly has the most upbeat overall sound out of all of the tracks on this album. "Fight Me" leans more towards rock than the other tracks, and while "Angry Young Man" is angst-packed, it's super heavy on the guitar, making the vocals a bit drowned out at times. While this song doesn't seem to have the same production level as the others, the potential is there.
It's clear that Zach hasn't pigeonholed himself into one specific musical style and instead revels in the freedom of musical creativity. It's refreshing to come across an artist who can put out a lengthy release without sounding repetitive and bland and is open to exploring crossover genres.
Check out an interview with Zach below where we talk about his songwriting process, favorite venues, moving to Nashville, and more!
Q: Each song on Sailawayheart has a different vibe to it. Do you decide on the sound of each song prior to completing it, or do the songs tend to find themselves?
A: A little of both. When you write a song you definitely have an initial idea of the feel. I don't like to force anything, though. If it comes out like a Motown song it comes out like a Motown song. If it comes out emo let it be emo. When you fight against it you lose some of the honesty.
Q: Since you've been in a few previous bands, what have you learned along the way that has translated over to this current project?
A: Don't be afraid to say something sucks. Don't be afraid to say something is good. I have a bad habit of overthinking and when you do that you lose some of that initial dopeness. If you don't think it's 100% the coolest shit ever don't do it, and that's much easier said than done. If it feels forced, it is. Once again, honesty.
Q: What was the first concert that you attended, and how did that influence you as a musician?
A: It didn't. I think I saw Three Doors Down or something-- obviously didn't have an impact (lol). Twenty One Pilots had the biggest influence on me. They are just the most uncompromising band. They kick ass in every facet and I will be in the parking lot waiting for anyone that wants to fight me on this.
Q: What has been your favorite local venue to perform at, and are there any venues on your bucket list so to speak that you'd love to play a show at?
A: Cafe Coco has the best sound of any room I've ever been in. Family Wash and SOUTH have also been some fun shows. Jed's was a great place when I first moved out here but they unfortunately closed down. Tons of great places out here, but I think that's probably the point.
Q: Being from Kansas City, what sparked the move to Nashville, and what tips do you have for musicians looking to navigate the local scene?
A: I would like to say it was the music that took me here, which is partly true, but it wasn't the main reason. I might have told you that it was then but it definitely was more about starting my life than anything. It's still the best decision I've ever made. You gain some harsh wisdom moving to a state you've never been to when you're nineteen. As far as the local scene goes, just make some friends with the people you play with. Music isn't as fun isolated. You also won't get anywhere.
Q: If you could go back in time and give your past self advice, what would it be?
A: All your problems are because you're selfish. There is no song you write, or anything you do, that will be more important than learning to put others before yourself. Rock Chalk.
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