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Loop artist Zach Deputy is truly a one man band. Using live recording devices, he lays down drums, bass, keyboards and other instruments on a loop, one at a time, and then sings and plays guitar over top of it all in an original brew of what he calls “island-infused, drum ‘n’ bass, gospel-ninja-soul.” We spoke with Deputy at his home in Savannah about giant bullfrogs, disc golf and why he hasn’t listened to music in years.
You play all across the country. What about the North Carolina vibe sticks out to you?
My dad grew up in North Carolina so we used to [come here] most summers to visit my grandmother in Franklin. North Carolina always meant the red clay at my dad’s, my grandmother and Cheerwine. From my kid’s memory, I thought of Franklin as the world in “Mario” where, for the first time, everything was bigger; the mushroom heads were bigger, the blocks were bigger. We were outdoors, fishing for catfish and bass. I remember seeing this bullfrog jump that had to be 3 feet long. It was the most giant bullfrog of all time. It seemed like a magical place, butterflies everywhere. The mountains of North Carolina, you can’t get much prettier. They’re so welcoming and beautiful.
You have a big voice. Tell us about your vocal influences.
I love Appalachian music. I love Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, love gospel music growing up, too, love Harry Belafonte, a lot of calypso and salsa, Tito Puente. I came from a bilingual house and even if I couldn’t understand what they were saying, I emulated it. Fifteen years ago, I stopped listening to anything. I asked myself, ‘What is the voice of my heart,’ and I did not want to be influenced by anybody else. All those influences as a kid and lack of influences as an adult, that’s me.
So when you’re on the road you don’t listen to music?
Oh no, not at all. My job is not to have a musical IQ. My job is to keep my heart pure so it is not fake or unwarranted. I’m a soul singer, everything else is technical jargon. What I try to do for my audience is be knowing of myself, understanding of myself, to be myself in front of other people.
You play a lot of disc golf. What is it about that game that draws you?
It’s a grassroots sport and I identify with that as a musician. That’s my whole motif of how we run my thing, grassroots, a small group of guys trying to do big things. It is very zen-like. To be good at disc golf you have to be good at knowing yourself, at letting go, at not trying to control reality, at believing in yourself. You have to be good at seeing the possibilities. It is a good sport to learn about yourself and about life. In this world, where people don’t really talk much anymore or open up to each other, you gotta go out there and hang out face-to-face for a couple of hours. It’s really good for connecting with people on a deeper level.
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