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INTERVIEW: Nashville Indie/Pop Artist Zach Vinson

Hi Zach, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Thanks! I’m good, but wiped out. Our family has been under the weather the last couple weeks so we’ve been in survival mode, just trying to keep our act together as best we can.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Better Man”?

Sure—“Better Man” is the first single off my new record, and it’s the first track on the album. It’s a head-bobbing jam about love, failure, and the fear that nothing ever changes for the better.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Not so much one particular event as a series of similar events repeating over and over. The song is about the realization that no matter how hard I try to change or grow, I end up slipping back into the same habits or hurting people around me in the same ways. When that happens over and over, it raises the question of whether we’re really capable of change, or if we’re stuck being exactly who we’ve always been. And maybe the willingness to ask that question is a first step in the right direction.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Nothing concrete right now. I’m hoping to do a video or two after the album releases, but I’m not sure if there will be money in the bank to shoot a video at that point.

The single comes off your new album And Yet – how did you come up with the idea of making a concept album?

To me, a concept album is usually based around a fictional narrative of some sort. But this record comes very directly out of the last couple years of my life, so I wouldn’t call it a concept album per se. Maybe a themed album, if there is such a thing? It’s definitely a more thematically cohesive set of songs than any other record I’ve done.

What’s the story behind the title?

I was reading back through some things I had written in the past, and the words “and yet” jumped out at me from the middle of a sentence. It felt like a pinprick of light. Those words, to me, function as a much-needed reminder that no matter the pain that has come before, there can be a new beginning, a sliver of possibility that things aren’t as they seem and may not always be as they have been.

How was the recording and writing process?

I’m a slow writer, not someone who sits down and writes an album within a week or two. So these songs took shape over the course of a couple years—first in my own fingers and voice, then with my band here in Nashville, then under the guidance of the producer as we worked in the studio.

What was it like to work with Kit Hamon and how did that relationship develop?

Kit (the producer) and I have known each other for about 10 years. We’ve talked for a while about doing a project together, and it was time to make that a reality. I self-produced most of my previous work and knew it was time to get a fresh perspective. There’s a lot of overlap in our creative instincts, but also a lot of ways in which he pushed me and the band to reimagine things and break out of some bad habits. It was exactly what I was hoping for.

How much did he get to influence the album?

I’m probably not the easiest artist to work with, because I’m not interested in completely handing the reigns to someone else. So there was a lot of back and forth, but Kit had a ton of influence in shaping the arrangements before we got in the studio and then guiding the sonic choices as we recorded. It’s a pretty noticeable shift if you compare it to previous records I’ve done.

What role does Nashville play in your music?

I’ve been here 8 or 9 years now, and I still haven’t figured out quite where I fit in. There are several different music scenes here, but my music doesn’t obviously fit in any of them. So I’m always on the lookout for other like-minded artists, in hopes of finding or building a creative community. I get glimpses of it here and there.

The album walks the thin line between falling in love and breaking up – why didn’t you go with one or the other?

There are plenty of love songs and break-up songs out in the world, and for good reason. But I was more interested in a different question: What does it look like to stay with the one you’ve got? That’s not something we talk about or sing about as much, but I think there’s tremendous depth, nuance, and beauty in the fight to stay together—even when it would be easier to throw in the towel.

This album is birthed out of that journey in my own marriage. I don’t think either of us had a clue how much pain and trouble we were walking into when we said “I do.” We’re still unpacking that, but thankfully, we’re doing it together as best we can.

How did you get to balance both of the themes?

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Most of the songs come pretty directly out of my own experiences. The second single, “Hold My Son,” I started writing the morning of the last presidential inauguration, and it’s my attempt to make sense of my role (and any individual’s role) in pushing back against the darkness in America right now. And the very last track is a cover of Tom Waits’ “Come On Up to the House,” which has long been a favorite of mine. It felt like the perfect response to the weariness and struggle of the rest of the record.

Any plans to hit the road?

I’ve got a few shows on the books this spring to promote the new record, and I’ll be adding to that over the next month or two. I’ve got a 2-year-old son, and I don’t like being away from him for long, so I pick and choose my spots for touring a little more carefully than I did a few years ago.

What else is happening next in Zach Vinson’s world?

Pretty much all my spare time and energy is focused on this album release right now. The album comes out on April 26, and we’re doing a big show here in Nashville to celebrate it on May 15. After that, I’ll hopefully catch up on sleep a bit and figure out what the rest of the year looks like.

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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