Dublin-based songwriter, producer and musician Zach James Douglas has given us no shortage of new music this year, accumulating in his latest EP ‘4×2’, the second in a trilogy of EPs.
Zach’s sound is impossible to pin down but incorporates elements of electronica, indie, pop and more, collaborating with vocalists to make every song unique. We caught up with him to chat about his new EP and future plans!
Hey Zach, congratulations on the release of your new EP ‘4×2’! What was fuelling you whilst creating this new project? What were your biggest musical inspirations?
Hi, thank you so much, I really appreciate it! For me, this project was critical to my mental health, as it gave me focus and something positive and constructive to aim towards during the second half of the pandemic.
For me, I get inspired by producers and songwriters who have the ability to create a sound that is totally unique – something that hasn’t been heard before. I’m obsessed with Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood and will regularly binge Kid A from start to finish, each time finding little layers and nuances that I’ve previously missed and then studying them for weeks on end, attempting to dissect how they went about creating them and then seeing if I can recreate something similar. Basically I’m a production nerd! I’ve also recently been deep diving into the world of hyper pop, which is a genre that really resonates with my inner production dweeb. I’m someone who fully endorses the “more is more” attitude and this genre really allows an artist to explore the extreme ends of the electronic music spectrum from shiny, glistening pop vocals and synths, to really nasty, industrial basses and beats. For me, the queen of the genre is Charli XCX but I’ve also been listening to a lot of Kim Petras and Rina Sawayama lately. I just find the whole thing utterly fascinating and I feel it’s a genre that I will definitely be dipping my toes into a little further down the line.
This is the second EP in a ‘trilogy’, what do you feel differentiates this EP from your previous one ‘6×3’? Where do you think the next one will take you?
‘4×2’ is unlike anything I’ve ever written before. I’m usually quite an autobiographical writer. I write as a form of catharsis, as a way to unpack my own anxieties and insecurities, which was definitely the case with ‘6×3’ but with this EP, given that we were collectively living in a unique moment in time, within this one shared experience, where every person was dealing with the same fears, the same constant uncertainty and carried a similar uneasy sense of hope that things were eventually going to get better, I felt I had to step outside of my own little bubble and try to write about something a little more universal.
The 3rd part of the trilogy may or may not already be pretty close to completion, so hopefully you won’t have to wait too long to find out! I hope that it will tie this collection of work together in a way that is natural and coherent. I’ve loved this chapter and I’m really proud of what we’ve created, but I’m even more excited about what comes next!
You’re known for collaborating with other artists on your tracks. Why is this important to you?
There are two main reasons, firstly, I’m an absolutely crap singer! I believe you must always serve the song first and having me screech consecutively over the top of the track for four minutes serves absolutely nothing and no one! Secondly, I love the freedom and scope that working with different singers gives me as a songwriter. Instead of having to tailor a song to fit a certain singer’s style or range, I can write with the shackles entirely off and then find a vocalist who I feel is an appropriate fit and who can hopefully bring the track to a new level. I’m so grateful for all the wonderful artists who have featured so far, I’m truly blessed to be able to work with such ridiculously talented people.
How has the pandemic affected your music creation process? Have you seen a permanent shift in your approach to songwriting?
I’m probably one of the few artists that misses lockdown, in a horrible, twisted way. Purely because it gave me the chance to truly dedicate every bit of myself to the finer nuances of my songwriting and production and it definitely accelerated the timeline in terms of my output in the past year. However, it was also creatively stifling for sure. With so much negativity, with so much inactivity, it was certainly difficult to feel inspired. There was a dullness to life and a lull that led to quite severe writer’s block for large periods, but in the grand scheme of things, I’d like to think that I made the most out of the cards that were dealt and have come out the other side a better songwriter and producer.
Where will we be seeing you a year from now?
Hopefully on stage and with numerous new releases under the belt! I miss gigging more than anything and I’m so excited to get this project out on the road. I’m still figuring out the nuts and bolts of how best to perform these songs live but the aim is to be ready for festival season next summer, so fingers and toes crossed!