Zach Mackey is a singer, songwriter and producer from North Carolina. He is a graduate from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) with a Bachelor of Music in Composition from Dr. Michael Rothkopf. Mackey’s goal with his music is to express the true, raw forms of emotions in each piece in order to connect with his audience. Mackey has recently relocated from North Carolina to Southern California, where he began to learn more about singing, songwriting and production. Combining his own ideology of composition to pull at people’s heartstrings and a broken heart of his own, Zach’s music has taken new strides and helped him to take steps forward on a new journey. His teacher, Dr. Rothkopf, has this to say about his music: “As an artist, [Mackey] imagines his music through fundamental human narratives. His approach, always, is to connect his listener to their innate humanity.”
“Let You Go” is a new single release by Zach Mackey. One thing is certain after listening to this song: it is truly unique. The song begins with a simple and melancholic piano and the low dulcet tones of Mackey’s vocals. The first striking element of this song is the way that the chords change. There are several instances of chord changes that are definitely not conventional in popular music, but these changes are so moving because the listener doesn’t expect them. The song builds slowly, adding some synth and kick drum elements gradually. The delay of gratification in this slow build is used to great effect, and draws the listener in ever closer. The harmonies are at once haunting, yet soothing; the lyrics are melancholic, yet hopeful. Mackey has seemed to touch upon a previously untapped source of emotion in his music, some of which could probably be attributed to his formal training in composition. We highly recommend you experience this great emotional journey on “Let You Go”.
Listen to "Let You Go" here, and be sure to check out Zach's personalized interview below!
Hey Zach, thanks for chatting with us! So you’ve recently moved from North Carolina to the West Coast. How would you describe the difference in musical tastes and the music scene in general between the two places?
Hi! Thank you guys so much for having me. Smog aside, moving to LA County has honestly been such a breath of fresh air. I was fortunate enough to go to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts back home, and wow... the talent that was around me. I was constantly getting inspiration, no matter what medium of art I was exposed too. It's the same feeling here. I feel like I'm surrounded in art again. The music scene in NC is absolutely fantastic. You could find any genre coming out of it's cities- but as you expect, Los Angeles is a gigantic hub of creativity and originality that has everything. I mean, my neighbor could be the next artist I obsess over here! That keeps me excited, and really inspires me to push myself.
What is your writing process like? As a student of composition, did you develop a method early on, or has that shifted somewhat in your exploration of different types of music?
It's funny actually! As a composer, I struggle terribly with writing vocal music- like, it's bad. I never saw myself pursuing much of a career writing for the voice, let alone becoming a songwriter. It's so much easier to convey a message without words for me. I don't have to think about what to say next, or really how to say it. I can just let the music flow in the direction it does, organically. I think that's the biggest difference in my process for the two. I push myself to write the lyrics first so I can really get it out right, then come up with the melody. That's when I'll begin the production process.
Who would you say your biggest musical influences are?
Oh goodness: Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O'Connell, Isak Danielson, and London Grammar are my go to's for music. I literally listen to these artists and get inspired daily. However, I think from a classical perspective, I'm influenced a lot by film composers (Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch) and maybe a little Mahler- which definitely pushes into my productions.
You touch on an interesting range of emotions in your new single, “Let You Go”, and also you use unconventional chord changes. Would you say this is in part a product of your education in composition?
"Let You Go" is definitely an interesting one. This song was written from the perspective of someone else, as if they're singing to me about how they're manipulating me. I wanted it to be enticing and very dark, but still have the sadboi vibes I always go for. I think my education in music composition only helped me achieve being able to comfortable step into and elaborate on more unconventional ideas. I love all of the colors of music, and there's so much to play with at any given moment. So why close yourself into a box of a I-V-vi-IV chord structure, you know? I really think artists are out here taking risks with their music more and more, and it's definitely paying off. New sounds and effects come out every day! Partially why I love music so much. It's such a creative playground and it's always changing.
What can we hope to see from you in the near future, Zach?
I just want to give people music that means something to them. Let them take my music in any direction that they need. I've always said, "music is the only journal I've been able to keep," and I want to give that same experience to listeners if I can. As far as projects are concerned, I'm currently working on two albums. One for myself (Just Boy Things), and one with my amazing singer/songwriter friend Samantha Richardson (To Look the Other Way). I will say though, beginning this process into the music industry has honestly made me fall in love with music all over again. You can expect way more music to come!
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