Saturday, May 4, 2013

Zachary Cale The Survivalist

The song remains the same. Daily life tends to be an uncompromising son-of-a-bitch. A majority of us surrender our precious time and energy to mundane tasks in exchange for a modest existence. Some are content with just riding the tracks that are laid out while others strive for a higher significance greater than any form of traditional reward. Signifiers come in many shapes and sizes and don't necessarily have to be grandiose to be profound. We can never completely escape the teasing taunting restraints of reality, however from time to time we can temporarily disappear into a song. The simple act of listening to a trusted tune can inspire hope, give meaning and/or serve justification to the tribulations we endure.

Zachary Cale is lone rider who has mastered the art of spinning gold from nothing. Through deterministic song writing and self-releasing is own music he has managed to build himself an outpost of purpose in an otherwise barren tundra of obscurity. He invests a lot into his work yet he openly invites strangers into his private sanctuary with little need for exchange. Zachary has even taken it a step further by releasing material from like-minded artists (Illuminations, Plates Of Cake, etc.) on his own record label All Hands Electric. Essentially Zachary has created a satellite universe, assembled a family, invented is own form of currency by independent means. Cale's manufactured realm could be considered escapism but to me it's just a wondrous path of survival.

- Preferred instrument for songwriting? 
     Guitar is my main instrument and I've done most of all my writing with it.  I gravitate towards my Martin Acoustic but different guitars will spark new ideas so it's good to move around and try different ones.  Lately I've been getting into piano and finding it easy to write with.  My brain just works differently when I play it, and I find I reach for things I never would with a guitar.  It's kinda blowing my mind actually.  

- Can you approximate how many songs you're written in your life thus far? 
     Including all the bad ones I'd say around 300 but there's probably more.

- Is songwriting a spontaneous affair or do you have a ritual for conjuring ideas? 
     I'd say it's pretty spontaneous, can't say I have any rituals.  Honestly just being alone for a long period of time with no distractions is really the the surefire way for me to write a bunch.  I write with melody, never with ideas so for me it's all about being alone with a guitar.  Though I've definitely written songs without an instrument as well, those are usually the lightning bolt moments.

- Can you chronicle or explain the typical process in which you go about transforming a spark of an idea into a complete song? 
     When I have a good first line then then it usually just all comes rolling out.  If it doesn't I tread lightly around it.  I don't like to force things so I usually just let it lie for a bit, come back to it later and by that time a new idea will help finish it off.  If for some reason nothing's happening at all then I usually just file it away in hope that I'll know what to do with it later.  I don't record demos either, my philosophy is if the melody is strong enough then I'll remember it.  If not then it probably wasn't great to begin with.  When I have a new song it happens often that the first couple lines I write will end up somewhere in the middle of the song, so I end up writing from the middle out.  It varies though.  First lines are really important to me.  If I land a good one then I know that song will be written in one sitting.  I believe that the best one's write themselves.

- Do you feel your music is a refection of true self or an extension of a fictional entity you wish to be? 
     I'm sure it's both.  Even the characters I invent in songs I know in some way are me, or at least a side of me.  I don't know if I believe songwriters who claim they aren't in their songs.  If it came from your imagination then clearly that has to figure somewhere in your life.

- What qualifies as an accomplished song? 
     That heart stopping spine tingling thing that happens when you hear it.

- Songs are like children and it's hard to play favorites. However is there a certain song that you are particularly proud of? Why? 
     I have a song called "Green Screen" that hasn't been recorded yet.  It's been one of my favorites for the past year or so.  It came really easy and usually my favorites are  like that.  The phrasing of the lyric sits perfectly in the music so it sings really well, that's always an indicator of a good song for me.  I like what it's about even if it's slightly abstract.  To me it's a song that mostly anyone could project themselves onto or see something of themselves in.  The lyrics evoke strong images and resonate on an emotional level I think most of us can relate to, and musically it shifts keys twice.  I wrote it with the voice dictating the chord changes rather than the guitar, I think songs written that way are usually the most arresting melodically. Even though there's multiple sections it plays like one long chorus.  For me it's on the clever side and that's not usually my style.  Clever in the way Harry Nilsson was; somehow understated and grand at the same time. (since "Green Screen" is yet to be recorded "Hello Oblivion" off Zachary's third full-length Noise of Welcome is a splendid runner up. - B.C.U.)

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