Zach Murrell has been known within the metro Detroit local scene through his work as a drummer in bands like Desires and Blank Slate. Now, Murrell is launching his career as a solo artist named Zachariah.
Murrell released two EP’s this year – Deep End and most recently, Moving in Place.
“It’s always been an idea that I’ve had in the back of my mind,” he explains. “I finally decided to act on. I’ve seen and listened to so many solo artists who have achieved massive success on their own.”
“I have always loved watching talented frontmen and women,” he says. “I watched my passion and desire to sing extend beyond belting in my car. Plus, I’ve always wanted to give it a shot, so I began to take the necessary steps to do so.”
One of the first steps that Murrell had to face was making the necessary sacrifice to follow his dream.
“One of the biggest obstacles that I faced was making the leap to focus on my solo music ‘full time’ and that ultimately lead to me parting from my former band Blank Slate,” he says. “We had a lot of discussion about not only this, but a lot of other things, and I felt it was just my time to leave that group. But I can wholeheartedly say myself and my former band mates are making our best music to date.”
Separating himself from drumming in a rock genre of music – Murrell pursues a career in an electronic, pop inspired sound.
“When it comes to writing, in the most literal sense I absorb what I listen to from other artists,” he says. “It can be anywhere from bedroom pop to slam and hardcore, but however I decide to approach making a beat or a demo for a song, it usually stems from something I’ve heard in a song by an artist that I listen to.”
“Lyrically, and with Moving In Place particularly, I did a lot of reflecting and was very honest with myself and with some experiences,” Murrell says. “Whether it was a relationship that fell through, or a friend that I’ve watch struggle to balance their emotions, I took it all and tried to make it as transparent and honest to not only the listener but myself.”
He says that his work as a solo artist resonates with differently with him then drumming.
“Musically speaking, the only person I have to worry about liking my ideas or impressing is myself,” he says. “I don’t have to worry about another persons input on a song or idea and I can roll with it until I think it is at its best version, or just throw it away entirely, or maybe even finish it and let it sit in my Dropbox.”
“I’ve never had a frontman role in a band either, he explains. “So being that center piece and focal point live will be a new, fun challenge for me. Especially since I won’t have a drum set to hide behind anymore. But, I do plan to introduce a band to my live performances in the future to help bring my new songs to life in a more personal and real way.”
Murrell says that one of his biggest goals is to achieve autonomy and be able to produce all of his own music.
“Seeing artists like LANY, The Neighbourhood, and The 1975 write their music on laptops in DAWs and then translate it to live guitars and drums so seamlessly is inspiring to me,” he elaborates.
Starting out, he says he wasn’t confident in his ability to do so. While creating Deep End, Murell paired with friend and musician Alex Stankewitz (also known as BleachKidd) with help in song writing and production.
The track “Run” off of Deep End resonates personally with Murrell.
“I think if there is any song that holds a special place in my heart, it’d be ‘Run.'” he says. “It’s the first one we wrote and recorded for the EP, and it is in my opinion, my most honest and sincere writing as an artist. It all pieced together so smoothly from the creation of the track to the lyrics and melodies, so it definitely sticks out to me.”
For his second EP, Murrell says that he wanted to challenge himself and move towards his goal of autonomy.
“I recorded at The Martenson Studio with Mike and Jake,” he explains. “While there was a song we wrote together from scratch – the rest of production and lyrics all started out as demos and concepts that I had brought with me into the studio, and it’s really reflected in the songs on the EP.”
In addition to self reflection, honesty is a key theme in Murrells work.
“If I want my work to be reflective of or symbolize anything, I’d want it to reflect being yourself and keeping yourself in check,” he stresses. “You don’t have any guarantees in life or after life, so why not give everything into what you love to do regardless of its payout or social benefits?”
“I also write to reflect and document my own life and growth,” he says. “I would want the listener to know that it’s okay to own up to who you have been, and know that it’s no longer who you are in the present, and you in the present won’t be you in your future.”
Murrell still drums for Desires, and will continue to be involved in the heavier side of things music wise.
“I have learned so much about music through drums,” he says. “It’s still an outlet just like writing and singing is, but I just like having my foot in that door with a band that has a more aggressive sound. I’ve also been dreaming of playing in a hardcore band or a shoegaze band, so who knows where I’ll be next? But establishing myself as my own brand is my number one priority for now and for my future.”
Murrell will be making his live debut at the Sanctuary tonight. Visit the event on Facebook for more information.
Stream Moving in Place on Spotify here.