tendency to be a loner is out via FADER Label
Today, rising singer-songwriter Zachary Knowles unveils his long-awaited debut album, tendency to be a loner.
On the project, Knowles is introspective with colorful wordplay (“ttbal,” “introvert”) while also exploring various topics of love (“johnny & june”), heartbreak (“no good at love”), longing (“let you go”), and connection (“dancing in the kitchen”).
Tender pop at its finest, the album demonstrates Zachary’s dynamic, honest songwriting and ability to tap into diverse perspectives and sounds to write songs perfect for summer pop radio (“time of night”) or nights of reflection (“carpool”).
Tendency to be a loner sees co-writing and co-production contributions from great musicians like Ashe, Alexander23, and X Lovers, helping to make a perfect indie-pop album that is fun and genuine. Today, the album arrives with a music video for “life sentence” produced by Del Water Gap and Dylan Bauld. Watch below.
I connect with Zachary Knowles to discuss his creative process, debut album, tendency to be a loner, BBQ, touring, and more. Read on below.
Was writing tendency to be a loner a cathartic experience?
I would say so, yeah. When I was making the songs for the album, I think subconsciously, there were a lot of emotions that came out in the lyrics and overall feel of the project that brought a lot of peace when I look back on it. Some of the songs were made before Covid happened, and some were created more recently, so overall the body of work went through a lot of changes as far as the meaning of everything went. The title track, “tendency to be a loner” for example, completely switched up meaning after going through a long phase of being stuck at home. It made me love the song even more because I saw it in a different light and felt like people would even be able to relate to it on a deeper level.
What was the hardest part of writing or creating the album?
I think one of the hardest parts with making music is overthinking things. It’s easy to get caught up in my head sometimes and worry whether or not a song is actually good or feels complete. I was able to sit on these songs for a while though so hearing them all together multiple times just felt better with each listen.
How did the pandemic affect your creative/collaborative process or timeline?
The pandemic kind of hit me hard at first, honestly. I’ve fallen in love with traveling, and I get a lot of inspiration from seeing new places and meeting new people, so when it was all stripped away, I was definitely in a weird place. It forced me to get comfortable doing things I wasn’t used to, like Zoom sessions or pushing myself to draw inspiration from new places. Something I’ve started to work on is writing about other people’s stories and experiences rather than my own all the time because I think that’s a cool way to connect with people and give them a voice.
2020 was an unprecedented year in many ways. Did it affect the themes/lyrics found on tendency to be a loner?
It was definitely a crazy one, and some of the songs were for sure impacted by it. Stranger to me and dancing in the kitchen were a direct result of being stuck inside for a while because I remember just wanting to make something that felt more upbeat and happy when I made those. Most of the songs prior to those leaned more toward the slower side of things, so those songs added a different flavor to the overall feel of the album for sure. I think they’re necessary though, because with an album called “tendency to be a loner,” I think it would be easy for every song to become sad or slow haha.
You’ve called the album’s latest single “stranger to me,” probably one of your favorite songs. What sets this song apart for you?
Stranger to me was one of the first songs I’d written after travel opened back up so for me it felt like a breath of fresh air. I was so used to being stuck at home and was in a rhythm of overthinking things I was writing, so hanging out with friends and writing something new and upbeat felt amazing. The song overall has a really cool feel to it because it’s actually really sad, but gets balanced out by the upbeat production, so I don’t know, it just felt new for me, and I fell in love with that.
What went into making the experimentally standout piece, “Introvert (interlude)”?
This song honestly might be one of my favorites off the album because it’s so different than the rest and describes the theme of the album so well to me. I made it with Peter Fenn at like 3 am one night after we’d spent all day working on songs. It’s funny because it was so late, and we were both so tired, so the original take was a full-on mumble track. We came back to it the next night and stayed up equally as late writing it and then threw in the vocals. It just felt weird and different and honest, and I loved that. I also wanted to leave the production very raw, so we didn’t really touch it from the time we made it back in 2019.
Of the music videos you’ve made for this album, which has been your favorite to film so far?
Dang, that’s a hard question. I really loved filming the “dancing in the kitchen” video because it was so chill, and the energy on set was just a good time, honestly. I rocked socks and sweatpants the whole shoot pretty much, so it just felt relaxing and fun. Stranger to me was sick too, though, because I love the outdoors and grew up going camping and going to the mountains, so honestly, I’m not sure which one’s my favorite. Both of those were really fun to shoot.
Which song on the album did you write the fastest? Why did it click so effortlessly?
I think “introvert (interlude)” was the fastest. I wrote it so long ago, but if I’m remembering it right, I think it only took about 30 minutes to an hour to write, which is pretty quick compared to my other stuff. It flowed so easily, honestly, because it was super late, and I was dead tired, and I wasn’t overthinking things like I might normally do. Every lyric felt right and felt strong, and I was just having fun. The lyrics in that song are some of the most accurate lyrics I’ve ever written as to what it feels like to be an introvert, too, so I guess because it was so organic, it just flowed.
If you could collab or tour with anyone, who would you want to work with first?
I think the dream would be to take the stage with Justin Bieber, haha. I’ve been a huge fan of his for years, and the energy he brings to a show is amazing. He knows how to work the crowd, and his performances are some of the best I’ve ever seen. I also really love Verzache’s stuff, and Alec Benjamin puts on a great show as well. I got to open for him in October of 2019, and seeing his crowd respond to his music, and the connection they had was awesome. Touring with any one of these guys would be crazy.
What can fans expect after the album’s August 6th release?
Fans can expect a lot more music to come. I’ve been working on a lot of new stuff and specifically thinking about how everything will transfer over live whenever it comes out. After seeing the whole process of what it takes to put out an album, I’m really excited for what’s next. I’m going to push myself like never before and really dive into what I want to share with others. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for what’s next than right now.
Where is your favorite place to write music? Why?
I love writing when I come out to California because it’s such a different environment than what I’m used to back home. I’m really inspired by my surroundings, so anytime I get to travel, I feel like it amps up my writing and creativity big time.
Who makes the best BBQ in Texas?
I love this question. Thanks for asking this. There’s a place in Tyler, TX, which is like 3 hours from me called “Stanley’s Pit B-B-Q,” that’s some of the best I’ve ever had. In my town, though, there’s a place called “Coopers” that slaps hard and a place called “All the Kingsmen.” These are definitely the top 3 BBQ places I’ve ever been to.