How do you usually write the lyrics of your songs?
I lay down some piano, get either frustrated or elated by some aspect of life, then write it out in a notebook until it’s rich with wordplay and internal rhymes or a hooky melody. Sometimes, it’s both.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing in songwriting?
The most important thing for me to focus on is telling a story in an interesting way rather than bending over backwards trying to find a story that’s never been written before. Every tale has been told before in its most basic form many times over, so in order to stand out and captivate listeners you have to find a new method of telling it.
Are you ever scared of revealing aspects of your personal life/experience to strangers through your music?
I’m not scared of getting personal with my lyrics (that’s all I can write most of the time), but I do hesitate to tell the full truth often, purely because of the nature of the events I want to write about. There’s this clean-cut, TV-ready image of Zach Callison that’s been cultivated for me over the last decade of working in Hollywood…I’m so, so far from that in real life that I’m afraid of letting it all out at once because it might be too much of a shock for people.
The entertainment industry is not a place for growing up. It twists young people. In many (recent) cases, it kills people…but that’s where I grew up, that’s my story. I’d be a fake if I didn’t write that into my music, so I’ve had to strike a balance with this first album.
What is the best lyric that you ever wrote (the most meaningful for you)?
Of the stuff that’s released so far, I’ll go with the chorus for Curtain Call:
bourbon to kill my pain/curtains to hold my shame/no they can’t look away/cannot contain my rage
I felt the need to put a spotlight on the plight of young performers, including myself. We leave all of our issues in the wings of the stage; we get under the lights, do what we love, then return to all the demons we left behind the curtains. And people just eat it up.
What inspired “Curtain Call”, part of your upcoming EP “A Picture Perfect Hollywood Heartbreak”?
The role Curtain Call plays in the overall narrative of A Picture Perfect Hollywood Heartbreak is hard to describe without spoiling unreleased songs, but the intent of the song was to capture the moment where a damaged mind decides to start “playing a part” in their day-to-day life in order to deny that anything is wrong.
It’s also a commentary on a lot of young actors and artists who have lost the battle; there’s been a lot of dead 20 and 21 year olds in the industry this year, some of whom I knew or admired. I don’t know how we fix the problem, but I needed to say something. In the words of Juice WRLD: “nothing like the feeling of uncertainty, the eeriness, the silence…”
What was the best moment of your career? And the most difficult one?
Finishing this album, and finishing this album. It has been the most formative experience of my life.
Also, beatboxing for LL Cool J while he freestyled was a high point.
What are your plans for 2018?
Release the album in the summer, drop some video content (!), go on tour in the second half of the year with NateWantsToBattle (tour dates just announced!) and make some new music post-album. There’s definitely a war plan for the next six months.
To conclude the interview a short Q/A session, please answer the first thing that comes to your mind:
- Define in one word your upcoming EP “A Picture Perfect Hollywood Heartbreak”: Massive.
- The best show you ever played: So far, the first one. Just getting the album on stage was a huge accomplishment.
- The one thing that you must have in your backstage: TEA.
- The soundtrack of your childhood: Muse.
- Your favorite song lyrically speaking but not written by you: Blood On The Leaves – Kanye West.
- Last question is “unusual”, we want to know your best relationship advice:
- If you think you’re ready to settle down, wait just a little longer.
- Don’t ever let someone tell you that a traditional relationship is the only way. I’ll never do it again.