Pop-Rock Musician ZACH BRANDON Discusses His Newest Track ‘Live and Let Live’, Handling The Pandemic, Favorite Shows and More!
On October 23rd, the pop/rock singer-songwriter Zach Brandon released his new single and video for “Live and Let Live (feat. Jallal).” Co-written with multi-Grammy Award winners Charlie Midnight (James Brown, Cher, Joni Mitchell, Hilary Duff), Jan Fairchild (Justin Timberlake, Mary J. Blige, Mos Def), and Jallal, and produced by Midnight and Fairchilld, the guitar-driven track emphasizes the importance of being kind to one another, particularly in these current times of social conflict.
“‘Live and Let Live’ is about how important it is to remember that we, as humans, are all cut from the same cloth–we are all related to a certain degree. The seed that grew into the song is a line in the third verse which says: “I’ve never seen a flower that someone called a sin//for the places it comes from or the colors on its skin,” says Brandon about his inspiration for the song. “I was thinking about how ironic it is that we find diversity to be such a sought-after trait in things like art and nature,” says Brandon, “yet we take issue with that same kind of diversity when it comes to our own species. My goal is to steer the diversity conversation towards the important notion that is in the first verse, we are all ‘different, but the same.””
“Live and Let Live” follows Brandon’s recently released single “Tell Everybody I Don’t,” which has amassed more than 220,000 YouTube views. Check out the music video for the song here. The singer/songwriter is set to release a full length project in early 2021.
Los Angeles native Zach Brandon’s inspired guitar work, strong melodies, and distinctly personal lyrics combine the elements of classic and contemporary styles. The 23-year-old artist’s songs are defined by guitar-led musical spontaneity and an unfiltered emotional honesty with themes that touch on love, loss and the bitter-sweet terrain of life. Mentored by Midnight and inspired by artists including John Mayer, Shawn Mendes and Harry Styles, Zach shares a look inside his heart through his catchy hooks, heartfelt anthems and innate musical ability with every note, lyric and melody. Zach has performed live at such LA hotspots as The Mint, Genghis Cohen and The Viper Room.
Learn more about Zach Brandon in the following All Access interview:
Thank you for your time. Given these unusual Covid-19 times, what does a typical day look like for you? How have you adjusted to these times?
For me, a typical covid day starts off with going to grab coffee (I have a Nespresso but there’s something so exciting and sinful about wasting that $3.50 a day you know??). Then I come home and answer interviews and do my outreach for promoting my song for a few hours, then I work on music once I have all my ducks in a row for that day, and then around 5 or 6pm, I cook dinner, and I play video games with my friends, and then I go to bed around 10 (but I definitely watch TV while I fall asleep).
Adjusting to these times has been really weird, because you never quite know when it’s going to end. It’s all very uncertain and so it’s tough to decide on when you should “hunker down” vs. wait patiently for it to pass. One thing I’m sure everyone has struggled with – home workout equipment. Every time I think about investing in some home workout stuff, I’m stopped by the thought that it won’t serve a purpose for me once the gyms open back up.
What has been the hardest/most challenging part about being quarantined? Is your city starting to open up more now?
The hardest part about quarantining/covid has been the concern of getting my loved ones sick. I never leave the house without a mask, I always wash my hands when I get back, and I wipe everything down with disinfectant, but there’s always the risk of still catching the virus, and then being a silent carrier. That really freaks me out – especially when it comes to my family. I don’t want anyone to get sick because of me.
How have you been able to use social media during these unprecedented times? Are you finding that you use it even more now to stay connected to fans and other musicians?
I think social media is and has always been a great tool to connect with fans. I love hearing from fans and I love responding to people who like (or don’t like) my music.
What has it been like having to reschedule all your shows this year? What shows in 2021 are you are already excited for?
I was supposed to be playing my biggest show at a festival called Shabang in San Luis Obispo — I was told 17,000 tickets were sold. That would have been really cool, but as of now, I’ll be playing it once shows open back up. And I’m definitely going to try to catch Dua Lipa and Harry Styles when they come to LA.
Since we are all desperately missing live music, can you recall a favorite show of yours from the past? What do you think ultimately makes for a great show for you? What about a favorite show of someone else?
My favorite show recently was seeing Colplday at the Hollywood Palladium and Whitney at the Wiltern. For me, what makes a great show is when the songs feel like they do in the recording – that’s a big thing for me. I don’t want to feel like the recording was engineered perfectly instead of being performed perfectly, if that makes sense. It can sound different live, but it should feel the same.
My favorite part of someone else’s show, at least when it comes to bigger shows with thousands or even tens of thousands of people, is when the artist makes a mistake and acknowledges it instead of acting like nothing happened. I think that it humanizes the performer and I think that the audience feels more connected with the show when the artist is confident enough to be vulnerable and say “whoops messed up that intro, can I start again everyone?”
What is the inspiration for your debut single “Tell Everybody I Don’t”? How do you think it prepares listeners for more music from you? What did it feel like getting your first song out into the world? How creatively involved with the making of the music video for the song were you? What was it like making it during the quarantine?
The inspiration was to encourage people to be okay with feeling how they really feel. People, myself included, typically like to be seen as all or nothing, but the reality of life is that most things are quite lukewarm. When it comes to breakups, which is what sparked this song for me, people tend to say they’re either really happy they did it or they’re miserable, but most cases that I’ve seen really turn out to be in the vein of: “I’m happy I did it, but I still miss [ex] sometimes.”
I think that regarding how it prepares listeners for my music (which is a great question by the way!), the answer is that it prepares listeners to expect honesty and vulnerability from me. My music is a true exposé of my life, and I want to inspire people to feel like it’s a courageous, honorable thing to be honest about your emotions. The era of “too cool for school” is gone, and the era of “I get what you’re going through, I go through it too and I’m here with you” is in.
More recently, what was the inspiration for your newer song, “Live and Let Live”? What was it like working with Jallal on it and the other writers, Charlie Midnight and Jan Fairchild on it? How do think this song truly speaks to the current times we all live in?
My goal with this song is to make an impact in the discussion of moving forward with love and kindness in this country, and the world. When I finished writing the song, I thought that the message was that we are all cut from the same cloth, and so I thought maybe we should try finding the answer to our problems in our commonalities instead of focusing on our differences. However, the meaning really found me after I got to think about it on a deeper level.
When I realized that the message (above) wasn’t going to necessarily align with everyone’s point of view, and I learned to be okay with different views, I learned the real purpose of ‘Live and Let Live.’ This song is not meant to exist as a solution, because the world stands, there is no “solution.” Some of the issues we are facing today are complicated beyond a clear answer no matter how you look at them. Instead, I want to empower people to feel confidence in their views instead of being angry with contradictory views, and I hope to promote open conversation, as that is the only way to get to where we need to be. To me, what is more important than the answer is the discussion.
Charlie and Jan are my partners, and working with them is always a pleasure. Adding Jallal to the mix really was a cherry on top for this song for me, because I already had written and produced the song two years ago, but adding Jallal to it really helped bring the message over the finish line. He is a great writer, and a great collaborator – he fit right in.
What has it been like working on your forthcoming material? Did anything surprise you about the process of making a collection of music? Have there been any unexpected challenges? When can we expect more new music from you?
I’m loving my upcoming songs. I can feel my style maturing already, and it feels really, really good. The only real challenge I end up facing is deciding which songs to produce. You have to choose quality over quantity, always, and that means you can’t produce every song you write. As such, I feel that I’m learning a lot about what songs to produce and what songs to store away for *possible* use later.
I can’t say toooooo much about upcoming stuff, but I promise that it’s around the corner.
How do you think future music is going to be influenced by this incredible and absolutely necessary Black Lives Matter movement that the US has been going through? How exactly is it inspiring you and your music?
I think this is a very important question to ask. I believe that at this point, it’s impossible for anyone to not be emotionally affected by what is going on, and emotional affect is what songwriters live for. I think that what this movement will do for music is it will inspire us to to pivot us in a direction that has us traveling down the road of writing about things like humanitarian rights, human decency, kindness, instead of partying, drugs, and money. I think people are starting to move away from the desire to be cool, in favor of the desire to do good and feel good. Like I said earlier, I think the days of showing off for “clout” are coming to a close.
If you could get into the studio with any artist today and collaborate on a new song for you, who would it be and why?
Shawn Mendes – he really is a great producer. I think his music is fantastic.
What would your dream music video look like right now?
I think that the next song I do is going to be an animated video, either 2D or 3D (but probably 2D). I’ve been really excited thinking about that.
Would you like to share anything else about yourself or your music with our readers?
I want everyone to be happy and proud of themselves. Life is not obvious by any means, and the people who seem like they have it figured out do not have it figured out. Keep doing you, keep doing what makes you happy and fulfilled, and the rest of what you want will eventually come to you (plus you’ll be happy along the way!). Love, Z