Zach Day stands out as an artist who has developed his own sound. His writing is venerable and filled with emotion, his voice is professional and polished, and his lyrics are clever, descriptive, and carefully crafted.
I loved hearing Zach’s responses for Out Now. It’s such a treat to gain insights into his mind, music, and process. Zach opens up about his experience growing up as an LGBTQ+ kid in Kentucky and how bittersweet it was, on the one hand, to be immersed in deep homophobia, but on the other, to be built into a beautiful Appalachian environment with inspiring storytelling, homegrown food, and the gift to sing with friends and family.
What’s your ideal vision for your future?
I have this dream of being able to make music full time, never having to worry about money to support my friends and family, and traveling the world with my partner. Eventually I will settle down on a little farm with a family milk cow and some chickens, maybe a couple kids, a big vegetable garden, and a porch with a swing and a bunch of people I love singing songs in harmony while I make a giant dinner for us all every weekend.
What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is not being able to accomplish everything that I have dreamed for myself and being forced to live a life of “What-ifs.” I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself and sometimes that freaks me out, because I worry I may never be satisfied. I have to work actively every day to calm myself down [over] these expectations, because it’ll send me into anxiety! That and the whale from Pinocchio… scared of him.
Why do you create music? What’s more satisfying to you, the process or the outcome?
I create music because I think I have a story that needs to be told. Being a queer person that was raised in the heart of Appalachia is a special and unique perspective. I was raised around amazing singers and musicians, but also I always felt like an observer of my surroundings. I choose to reflect on the great things I took from my raising. I have a huge heart for Appalachia and the stories that come from there. I was raised by generations of coal miners and farmers, teachers and preachers, gardeners and homemakers. I love to reflect on those sentiments in my music and I think you can hear it in my voice and in my songs.
Who are your favorite LGBTQ+ artists and bands?
I can’t get enough of Ethel Cain right now, I really look up to her and her writing skills. She’s inspiring me so much with how she is choosing to tell her stories. Also Searows… can’t get enough.
What are your release and touring plans for the next year?
I have a handful of songs being mixed and mastered right now on their way to streaming platforms and I plan to continue playing all over the place. I have shows booked in LA, Nashville, and NYC all within the next few months. My goal is to open for a big artist like Ethel Cain. I believe it can happen very soon.
@youknowzachmusic i was once told that i was coming off as too available and then i wrote a song about it, this is verse 2 #originalmusic #singersongwriter #yallternative #indiefolk #queercountry #guitar #vocals #singing ♬ original sound – Zach Day
You grew up in Kentucky. What was that experience like for you as a queer person?
Growing up in Kentucky as a queer person wasn’t easy. I didn’t even know I was gay until I was a bit older, but I had grown adults saying I couldn’t come to church with them, because they didn’t want a fag in their car. That was before I even knew I was gay. So I had this aura around me my whole childhood that I was different and I think that shifted my perspective on my life. In the good moments though, I could connect with music and really draw on the storytelling and lyrics that I heard to find inspiration. Appalachia is full of amazing storytelling and the environment and nature are so beautiful. I loved eating the food we would grow, I loved singing with my family and friends, and I loved hearing stories from artists like Mitch Barrett and Zoe Speaks.
You stand out as an artist who has developed your own sound. Your voice is professional, polished, and filled with emotion. Your lyrics are clever and descriptive, and the craftsmanship of your songwriting is phenomenal. What was the process of developing your identity as an artist?
Thank you for those kind words, that means a lot to me. I’m still developing my sound and my brand every day. As far as developing what I have at this point, I think that I did my homework for many years… I studied the greats and their subtle nuances… If Karen Carpenter or Joni Mitchell sang something that sent a shiver down my spine I would rewind it and try to emulate that to the best of my ability. If I heard a Dolly Parton lyric that moved me, I would let it sink into my being and ponder it. I just wanted to be able to write iconic songs and sing my face off – and I worked really hard to try and capture that. These days, I feel as though I’ve been leaning more into my Appalachian roots. I spent a long time running from what made me unique, but now I embrace it.
You recently spent some time living in LA and moved back to Nashville. What drew you to live in LA for a while, and what was that experience like for you?
I grew up always wanting to live in LA and experience that lifestyle. I was working with some folks that told me I would “do better” in LA and had a better chance at getting my music heard. But I don’t necessarily think that’s true. I love it there and I love it in Nashville as well. I’ve built a community in both places and have been fortunate enough to work with amazing people in both locations. I have my pockets of support in both cities and for that I’m super lucky. I just realized that I miss being in the woods too much to live in LA right now. I missed nature and I missed being able to turn off my phone and go for a run on a trail, down the road. I love being in the city from time to time but at the end of the day, I’m a country boy and it’s in my roots.
Photo courtesy of Zach Day