Born May 20th 1989 in the greater Orange County, southern California, Zachary D. Symes had an instinctual knack for the arts from an early age. He was raised in a household with a rather unique dynamic - mom a Buddhist Democrat while his Dad claimed the more expected Christian/Republican worldview: a marketing assistant/freelance writer and veterinarian respectively. When his father had an opportunity to buy his own practice the family moved to the southern reaches of the United States, Spanish Fort Alabama; a nice suburb outside the port city of Mobile. Listening to his music you would hardly guess he spent 22 years in the Deep South, but its possible to pick up a southern drawl here and there.
Beginning with art in the most literal sense, drawing and sketching was the first sign of him "finding his lane", as he would put it. Hung all over the house for company to see, his mom was very proud of her kid and as she should be, he was really good [insert lol]. After a few years and a season or two of art lessons Zachary would find himself participating in drama class through his middle - and high school years. He then landed the role as Wilbur, in his local community's play-house rendition of Charlotte's Web. With the spotlights and applause, he loved being the center of attention. Always being the class clown growing up, he looked back on it and said:
***I always had really good grades and I really only got in trouble if the entire class laughed. If the same joke about the teacher was said and nobody laughed… teachers seemed not to give a fuck.***
A few years later he found music, and that was when everything seemed to click;
***I could be a triple threat with art, theater, and music. In my mind that's what it takes to really stand out, being able to do it all***
Starting around the age of 12 he started to see rap music as his best form of self expression.
***There are just more words in hip-hop, which today is sad because no one's really saying anything besides the obvious stand outs Kendrick and J. Cole. I mean, one track off a hip hop record has more lyrics than pretty much an entire album done by, say, One Direction.***
He found Eminem, as people might assume, pretty young. "The word play" he says, "the ability to match 6 syllables 6 times is what drew me to rap music. I remember the single line to this day that had me like 'damn that's what I want to do'. Back story: Zachary was 9 when a friend on his elementary school playground turned him on to Eminem. Zack was that kid Slim Shady often referred to in his records. "That was me. I remember the day my friend run up on me, like 'Oh my God there's this white poet guy who just killed his wife and stuck her in the back of a car'". [referring to the Slim Shady LP record '97 Bonnie & Clyde, a record Eminem wrote to his daughter during a troubled relationship with his now ex-wife]
He started in rap as most kids his age did, free-styling in the cafeteria and rapping over other famous artists' productions. It was his first talent show in 8th grade where things first went "south" as he puts it.
***"I mean south in a way, I guess. I got up on stage, stood up on a chair, and just started dissing people. Half of them loved it, the other half tried to fight me the next day at snack. It was a real turning point for me as a kid, because behind all of that drama was a whole 'nother level. My girlfriends mom at the time was a teacher at my school and my girlfriend's older brothers got taken out of high-school to come see me perform. My classmates loved it, her mom… well, she made us break up and we dated in secret for a while until my girlfriend just couldn't deal"***
High-school goes on, with Zack performing a few shows and practicing his lyricism. He then took a short break, saying I'm done. Until he realized No... Nah... Nope, I have to keep going. A few years passed with him getting really into the engineering side of things.
***Music production is such an interesting art to me. Anybody can hook up a microphone and hit 'record' but what does it take to make an album that you recorded in your bedroom actually not sound like well, you recorded in my bedroom?***
During his first real experience making a full album, Zack, like most new artist, "borrowed" beats from other rappers to produce his first mixed-tape, "The Rabbit Hole." That may sound odd to say in other genres, that you "borrowed" a Pink Floyd guitar riff and wrote a song to sing over it, but that is referred to as sampling in the hip hop world and was actually the back bone of the genre in its early 90's conceptualization stage. Zack wanted to be sure he put out The Rabbit Hole before he graduated in order to show his peers just how truly serious he was about this "music stuff." His first mix-tape when on to do just that – impress family and friends. And when his dad gave him his first midi keyboard for graduation, "That changed everything for me.". He wanted to actually make the musical pieces that would serve as the backdrop to for him to lay his rhymes over, a feat he says few other 'rappers' can put on their resume. "To be able to say they made their own beats, played most of the drums, played all of the piano pieces, and composed all the string sections." Zack touches on this topic with his hilarious record titled 'Dumb Rapt p. 2' where he says in the chorus "Your beats are made in China by Ling-Ling". It's a metaphor and he wants everybody to know how he feels about metaphors, "They bridge a gap and better illustrate or convey what I'm trying to say".
Now with his first fully original and double disc album "The Garden" coming out in February 2017 he says he couldn't be more excited. I've gotten a lot of good feedback from my mini roll out of a few singles over social media. People are coming out of the wood works from years ago telling me they either had no idea I was a musician, or that they're excited that I kept it up and wanna hear more."
"So whats next?" I asked him.
***"I'm currently building the website and a whole brand trying to separate myself from the weeds, trying to do this seriously and be the next flower that grows in The Garden, thats a plug by the way (Laughter), and sprout from all the weeds that say it can't be done. See, metaphors"***
Sounds great! Anything else we should know?
***"Yeah, I used to do a lot of drugs, I quit. But I have some crazy stories to share in our next interview."***
And that was that.
Interviewed at Wonderland Recording Studio