Singer/Songwriter Zach Heckendorf was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, where he laid the foundations of his musical career. Now living in New York after traveling around South America, Zach took an hour to chat all about his musical career and to use his experiences to guide and inspire the hardworking creatives at Always Werking.
[Above: The Gondola Sessions Aspen: "The Garden" Speed Checked by Aircraft, 2014]
Zach’s artistic style features staccato guitar riffs and smooth buttery vocals inspired by artists like Jose Gonzales and Jack Johnson. Zach’s ability to speak Spanish and interest in world music gives his own music a very cross-cultural sound. I asked him if this is intentional and he said that, “I listen to as much as I can. If I like how something sounds, it may end up in the music.” His wide range of interests is evident in the fact that he took guitar lessons from a local when he was traveling in Brazil.
Zach has been playing music with longtime friend Curtis Halle for years now and continues to do so when possible. Both Zach and Curtis are working on producing their own stuff, but certainly bring a very special and personal vibe to the music when they play together. Zach discussed the importance of having a friend like Curtis throughout his career. He describes Curtis as his “musical brother” who pushes him both musically and personally. Curtis and Zach’s musical brotherhood has been crucial to their growth because, as Zach describes, creative people need other creative people in their lives. We discussed that there is an element of understanding between creative people (specifically those pursuing a creative career) that often times cannot be understood by those on a different path.
“Creativity is a constant exploration of yourself,” Zach noted, and it is important to have someone with you along that path.
[Perspective and Patience]
My favorite part of talking with Zach was discussing the “highs and lows” of his career in music. When I asked him what these might be, he was challenged to come up with some, because there were so many. Zach said stoically that he is searching for more balance between highs and lows- in his career and in his life. A creative career can be such a roller coaster- way up and way down- and Zach is working on moderation between the two. Then he said to me, “I don’t really want to speak to the lows. There have been plenty of ‘lows,’ I presume, but in the end that isn’t really what they are. So I don’t want to call them that.” He went on to add, “Whatever happens, whatever obstacles you hit, you have to have faith and trust that the work does pay off.”
He said that the highs and lows weren’t the things to focus on in a creative career, but really your own perception. Perspective and patience are Zach’s recipe to a successful and fulfilling creative career.
Zach’s most recent album, Artifacts, released May 19th 2017, is a series of snapshots from different times in his life. It is a collection of the old and new, which Zach describes as a very “reflective” album. “The Harvest,” is one of the first singles from Artifacts and its lyrics are a good summation of the album and its message.
Residents of Zach’s and my hometown of Denver, Colorado can look out for some shows coming up! Most notably, on October 13th Zach will be playing a show at the Bluebird Theatre on Colfax and Adams; a place that Zach describes as “really fun, kind of like home base.” On a larger scale, Zach is Always Werking, and is looking to make some big career moves soon. He is not sure what those look like yet, but he does know that he is growing much more confident in his pursuits everyday.
[The artistic landscape right now is owned by people who are willing to be bold]
Zach leaves us with some much-needed wisdom: “If you want something, you are probably right.” Listen to your gut, and don’t talk yourself out of something just because it is different than what everyone else wants. Stay true to yourself and to the world. Zach noted, “The artistic landscape right now is owned by people who are willing to be bold.” SO BE BOLD. TRUST YOUR GUT. AND STAY HONEST. Your success and fulfillment as a creative person will not disappoint.