Zac Robertson's debut solo single, featuring Ash Kennedy, is titled 'Closer'.
Young Melbourne-based songwriter and guitarist, Zac Robertson recently released his debut solo single ‘Closer’, a song that features the vocal talents of pop, R&B singer Ash Kennedy.
With inspiration drawn from London’s burgeoning jazz and soul scenes, and experience performing with a number of Melburnian bands (Dandecat, JAYDEAN, Rya Park, ALLIPHA), Zac is working on a debut album he plans to title ‘Polar Opposite’.
Here we get to learn more about what makes Zac’s musical creativity tick, his songwriting processes, and the fact (unfortunately) he is a Collingwood Pies fan (jokes).
You recently released your debut solo single ‘Closer’; how does that introduce you as an artist? I guess with my first single, I really wanted to show the kind of music I love to make; lots of interesting harmony, easy to remember melodies, and well-performed parts. I think it’s the perfect glimpse into my world.
You collaborated with vocalist Ash Kennedy and producer Jade Kerber; how did both come about, and what did they each bring to ‘Closer’? I met both Ash and Jade while studying music.
Ash has been an amazing friend and collaborator. We wrote ‘Closer’ together over two years ago after a New Year's party. We both realised how fast time goes and how important it is to appreciate each moment, which brought the concept of ‘Closer’. She brings a really fun energy in the room, which makes it super easy to be yourself – we just gel really well when we write together.
Jade and I started the production of my project over two years ago, so we’ve really been on this journey together. His vision and his production skills bring my tracks to life, so I really do value his input.
What can you tell us about your forthcoming debut album ‘Polar Opposite’? Ten tracks, six incredible featured artists and a whole lot of talented friends. I really tried not to let genre interfere with my writing process for this album.
There’s definitely an underlying sound to it as a whole, but as an artist I’m in love with a range of different genres, so putting a label on this body of work is challenging. The title came about from another track I wrote with Ash Kennedy. It really fit the concept of the whole thing.
Why the move to a solo career? A solo career was always on the cards for me. Growing up I was always the frontman of the bands I was playing in, but after going to uni I wanted to take a backseat and focus on my guitar playing and songwriting.
When did you realise you wanted to be more than a session guitarist, songwriter, to take the plunge and own the stage yourself? As I perform with a bunch of Melbourne acts (shout-out to Dandecat, JAYDEAN, Rya Park, ALLIPHA) I decided to take the forefront in the writing and direction, which resulted in my own band. I don’t think I necessarily want to own the stage. . . I want to share it with other amazing artists.
Your songwriting process; do you have a template or is each song its own, creative beast? My best songwriting tool is inspiration. Sounds super cheesy, but without being inspired by other artists I can’t feed off anything.
Once the rush of energy is in the air it doesn’t matter what order I lay down the instruments, it will happen how it wants to happen. I don’t really know anyone who actually has a ‘set’ rule for writing songs. Some songs take a year, some take an hour. If you hear what the correct formula is, let me know.
Tell us a bit about your influences, inspirations? I’ll start with the obvious: Tom Misch was one of the first artists I listened to that made me want to mix my guitar playing with hip hop elements and jazz harmony. So much so, that I had to name a song on my album after him (you’ll see when it comes out).
The London soul/ jazz scene as a whole is popping hard with artists like Jordan Rakei, Blue Lab Beats, Alfa Mist, Richard Spaven; the list goes on. Talking locally, I’m a huge fan of Melbourne acts Billy Davis, The CB3, Thando, and Kaiit. They are all so inspiring and are so damn talented.
To put this into perspective, if you asked the same question six years ago I would have said Green Day.
How are you coping without being able to perform to a live audience? It’s super strange. Playing live is usually my physical outlet. Carrying gear is a workout that I just don’t get anymore. And who can afford a gym membership? Not a gig-less musician.
No matter the expense, send me a case of? Jedi Juice from Hop Nation. This question was the hardest to answer. Big craft beer fan.
What celebrity/ famous person would you love to be your spokesperson? Samuel L. Jackson. Have you seen 'Pulp Fiction'?!
Your favourite app at the moment is? Ohhh, definitely House Party. You go into the app and BAM! You're on a video chat with whoever is online. Perfect for this current situation.
While you’ve been in lockdown, have you discovered any new hobbies or taught yourself a new skill? Remember Tech Decks? I started making a mini skate park and learnt how to kick-flip with my fingers. Don’t say I don’t do anything practical with my time.
Being from Melbourne, how stir-crazy are you for the footy to return? I’m originally from NSW. I grew up watching rugby league and playing soccer, but I go for Collingwood. Make of that what you will. I’m sorry if I’ve offended anyone.
What’s next for Zac Robertson? I just honestly love creating music. Whether it’s successful or not I don’t see myself ever stopping. On to the next album.