The bedroom-pop pioneer unpacks his genre-bending sound, and lets us know why his latest single is his happiest yet.
The weekend is upon us, and while the idea of us testing our new found freedom with al-fresco lunch dates and exciting adventures does sound like fun, we’re in need of a lazy day. Whether it be alone or with the family, the idea of lounging in bed all day and stretching our limbs only when the snacks run out sounds like a dream – and tender pop artist Zachary Knowles is letting us live it with single “dancing in the kitchen”. Like an easy summer day, Knowles playfully bounces across the feel-good guitar rhythms, creating a cosy and homely sensation at every break. Picking up the pace during the chorus, the singer still manages to keep the chill vibe as he continues to lead us into his serene daydream.
Breaking away from his usual tone of emotional music, the singer creates a more light-hearted vibe with his single, revealing that this was intentionally done as he felt the time was right for a more happy song: “I think for a while I’ve written a bunch of sad songs, so it felt like it was time to give people something that’s just really happy. The original idea came from Peter Fenn, who’d sent me a short demo of his idea for it. I loved it a lot upon first listen, but it wasn’t until months later when we met up in person in LA with Dylan Bauld that we decided we should finish it. That session went crazy too. We were all just having fun and I think the song reflects the nature of the atmosphere it was written in.”
Using his small-town upbringing as inspiration, the singer has forged a strong sound for himself over the years, most notably his “Magnolia” EP which boasted an intriguing blend of slow-moving R&B and indie-pop sensibilities. With the singer coming up fast on the rise, we sat down with Knowles talking his creative sound, wanting to make people feel good and what we can expect from his upcoming project…
Check out the single below…
Hi Zachary – how have you been during this uncertain time?
Honestly, life’s been pretty chill. I think everything that’s happened has made me kinda take a step back to reflect on why I do what I do, and it’s put things into perspective for me for sure.
How has it impacted your music and creativity?
It’s definitely forced me to draw inspiration in new ways. I’ve always been inspired by seeing new places, travelling, meeting new people, etc. so to have all that stripped away for a while was a bit of a challenge. I think it’s honestly made me more aware of my surroundings though, and I’ve been enjoying the little things I have here at home a lot more. I hope that translates over into the new stuff I’ve been working on.
How does living in Texas influence your music?
Texas is super peaceful. I’ve always been very inspired by how relaxing and quiet it is. I don’t know how else to say it, other than that being in Texas brings me peace. I like to think that the down to earth realness of Texas can be heard in my music. I try to be as honest and real with everything as I can, which I think comes from living in a place that feels that way to me.
Who are your biggest musical inspirations?
Dang I have so many. I give a lot of credit to artists like John Mayer, Justin Bieber, Jon Bellion, Michael Jackson, and plenty of others. I think each have strengths that I pursue as a growing artist. I get inspiration from so many because I grew up listening to all the artists I loved, but also listening to stuff my dad would play in his truck. He’d always have some classic rock or Texas country on that I loved. I probably couldn’t even name the artists now, I just know I loved how they sounded. A lot of credit is due to smaller artists though too. I’m always listening to new artists and people who haven’t quite been discovered yet that are low key.
How would you describe your genre?
That’s a hard question. I’d for sure throw the word “chill” in there to describe it though. Maybe I’d call it chill pop or something I don’t know haha. I honestly just wanna make music that makes people feel heard. I aim to be very straight up about my emotions and thoughts in my songs, which I hope gives the message to listeners that they’re understood, or that they have someone to reach out to. If I had to throw in another way to describe my genre, I’d probably just say “real”.
Congratulations on your new single “Dancing In The Kitchen”, which has a lovely sentiment behind it – what was it inspired by?
Thank you! That seriously means a lot. I think for a while I’ve written a bunch of sad songs, so it felt like it was time to give people something that’s just really happy. The original idea came from Peter Fenn, who’d sent me a short demo of his idea for it. I loved it a lot upon first listen, but it wasn’t until months later when we met up in person in LA with Dylan Bauld that we decided we should finish it. That session went crazy too. We were all just having fun and I think the song reflects the nature of the atmosphere it was written in.
And the music video is super cosy, referencing all the things you’d do with a lover on a day-to-day basis – what did you want to evoke with it?
The idea for this video came from the brains of TJ Hoover and Jonah George, who had sent over some ideas prior to shooting. I added a few touches here and there as we went, but their idea was so spot on with what I wanted to evoke with it, so shooting was so smooth. I just wanted it to feel lazy, happy, real, and soothing. I never really go too crazy with the dancing in the video, and this level of peace is kind of maintained throughout the video. I just want people to watch it and feel good.
This track marks a change in tone from your previous single “carpool”, which is about loneliness – how far apart were they written?
“carpool” was written in April of 2020, and I believe “dancing in the kitchen” was written in November of 2020, so about 7 months apart.
Can we expect an EP soon for your newest singles “dancing in the kitchen,” “carpool,” “johnny & June”?
Everyone can definitely expect a project with these songs on it for sure. That’s all I’ll say.
Do you have a favourite lyric from your recent songs that you hope will resonate with your listeners?
My favourite line from “dancing in the kitchen” is probably “not tryna do nothin ambitious, I just wanna dance with you.” I think I like it so much because it’s so simple, and wraps up the meaning of the whole song in one sentence. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day of life sometimes, or even relationships. It’s important to take a step back and just enjoy what you have. Enjoy the little moments or the simplicities that make life and relationships great.
How does it feel to release music at such an uncertain time?
I think people are really receptive to music right now. Because everything was put on hold for so long, there’s so many things people have to say, and so many willing to listen. It excites me, because I feel like there’s an excitement for music right now that’s inspiring to me and makes me want to get my thoughts out there.
What do you hope it brings to your listeners?
I just want people to hear everything I’m working on and feel happy and hopeful and inspired going forward. This next single “dancing in the kitchen” especially, because it’s such a feel-good song. I’d love if it boosted someone’s mood, that would make me happy.
What’s next for you?
Well, I’d love to travel more. Now that things have opened up I just want to see new places and gather inspiration. I also really really want to meet fans and play some shows. It’s crazy having people who listen to your music and only being able to connect with them through social media. I’d love to meet them, and hang, and just play music and sing together. I’ve also been working on a lot of new things, and have challenged myself in new ways that I’m ready to share. It’s hard to say what’s next exactly, but I’m hopeful.
What are you looking forward to in 2021?
Putting out more music than I ever have, travelling, eating really good food, and pushing to reach more people with my music. There’s a lot of things I’m looking forward to, but those are probably the highlights!