Photo Credit: Phoenix Johnson
There was a fleeting moment in my life when I thought making music was going to be my thing. One wrong instrument choice later and well, that goal was far from reached. Luckily though, not every aspiring musician is as quick to quit. They’re driven by a passion that people like me get to be embraced by the wonders they create. So thank you to those passionate folks like Zachary Knowles who didn’t give up and kept moving forward because now he’s ready for the world to hear his brand new EP, ‘Goalie,’ out on October 14th.
We talked about his passionate roots, being a once-upon-a-time hater, the balancing act of music, and more in this back-and-forth exchange.
Kendra: I used to run home after school and watch MTV religiously because then they still played videos, but you – you ran home to make music. What about the process did you fall in love with first?
Zachary Knowles: That’s an awesome question. I’ve always thought it’s so cool how melodies can pop out at any moment and be turned into a song that’s out there forever. That is very exciting to me. Like knowing that at any moment inspiration could strike and become a song has always kept me so interested. Singing has always been so fun, so experimenting with melodies became something I really loved.
Kendra: You’ve noted a few artists that have inspired you in life, one being Justin Bieber. He gets a lot of hate hurled at him and I don’t fully understand why people act like he’s not talented. What about his career thus far has been the most impactful in helping you sort of map out your journey in the industry?
Zachary Knowles: Yeah I think people that hate on him are lame haha. I can say that though because I used to be a hater until I realized I was actually just jealous. But for real, I think he’s one of the most incredible vocalists. His vocal control is crazy and that’s what inspired me to get better at singing honestly. I think as he’s grown he’s become a lot more vulnerable about his life and who he is which has been really cool to see because vulnerability and being real are something that I really value in my life and career.
Kendra: Whatever it may be, you’re doing wonderful because, with a handful of records and EPs under your belt, you’ve got another one coming this October with ‘Goalie.’ With this being your most personal yet, did you ever walk away from the writing and recording process more mentally drained than you had before?
Zachary Knowles: I actually think it was the opposite during the process of making this project. I think because I was getting a lot off my chest I left feeling really refreshed. I did make a bunch of songs surrounding this project though that I chose from and narrowed down to the final seven it ended up as.
That was probably the most draining part because there are songs I liked but didn’t feel like they fit the message, so putting them on hold until later was a little bittersweet. But I wanted to make sure that the project had meaning, and that it wasn’t just a collection of songs I thought were cool, you know.
Kendra: Your latest from the EP is “Just Stay For Once,” a song that’s sort of an internal reflection based on your reality with self-doubt and needing to take it easy. I’ve had a few creative people come through my interview realm lately who’ve said the pressures of social media have hit them hard. Do you feel that the constant need for posting content can often hinder an artist and stress them out more than if they were just able to focus on their actual craft like music, movies, or writing?
Zachary Knowles: Oh 1000%. That’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately honestly so it’s crazy you bring that up. My number one goal is to focus on the art and to make stuff that’s real and timeless. I think the pressure from social media can be a real thing, and it’s tempting to get sucked into it if you aren’t careful. I think art at its core is supposed to be a reflection of oneself, and because self-reflection is intentional and takes time, usually art takes time to create.
The pressure that social media seems to put on artists is that they need to create this art as soon and as fast as possible so they can constantly be promoting, being in people’s faces, and catching people’s attention. It’s honestly a delicate balance because I obviously value social media a lot and it’s helped me in a crazy amount of ways. I just think it’s where the primary focus is that matters.
For me, my art will always come first, but social media is the tool I use to promote that art once I’ve put the time into making it. That might just be me though. But there’s definitely a pressure that doesn’t necessarily need to exist. It’s important to focus on the art. If you’re focusing on that, the pressures of social media become a lot less stressful and heavy, which is where I feel like I’m at right now.
Kendra: Some time ago I was talking to Cloud Cuckoo, an artist who said she created music that could be described as “danceable depression.” While I feel like “Just Stay For Once” is far from depression, it does have this mental health, self-care notion to it. With that, do you often like to balance heavier topics with more uplifting musical arrangements?
Zachary Knowles: Oh yeah, I think it’s such a cool balance when a song that’s diving into more sad stuff has an uplifting feel to it. It makes it more hopeful to me.
Kendra: Then because I have a podcast all about crushes, I can’t let you go without talking about your previous single, “Crush.” Usually, songs of that nature are about the newness of a crush but this is about still feeling those sentiments years down the road. Was this about a relationship you had or possibly one you’d admired?
Zachary Knowles: It’s about my wife and I. We met in junior high and once we started dating we never stopped and now we’re married and she’s still my best friend. I wanted to capture and talk about how it feels to know someone for so long, and still have these crush-like feelings when you’re with them. That’s how I feel with my wife. She’s my best friend.
Kendra: It’s time for a side note: With it being spooky season, I’d love for you to share your favorite movie to watch around Halloween – could be scary, funny, or a little of both!
Zachary Knowles: Hmmmmm. I’m a huge thriller/horror movie fan. Last year I got really into Korean thrillers and recently I’ve kind of revisited that so I’ll probably rewatch some of my favorites. There’s one called ‘Forgotten’ that’s definitely one of my favorite movies, and one called ‘The Call’ that’s crazy good. I’ll watch those soon for sure and probably try to find some other Korean ones.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘Goalie’ out on October 14th, do you have plans in the works for 2023 as far as touring is concerned?
Zachary Knowles: At the moment I don’t have anything set in stone, but I’m in the process of making plans for it, yeah. I’ll leave it at that! I’ve got a lot of plans for this year and next.