A Brief Convo with Zack Holdridge
I had the wonderful chance to chat with local up-and-comer Zack Holdridge. Zack, who is fresh into young adulthood with a personality as up-tempo as his music is, dropped his premier single “Everything About You” in September. “Everything About You” is a bubbly and spirited pop about teenage romance. Zack really shows his stuff at the song’s climax and proves that he has the grit, the charm, and the vocals that, accompanying practice and experiential growth, Zack has the potential to be the intrepid male popstar the 518 can bop to.
Elissa Ebersold (EE): Hi, Zack! Have you been interviewed before?
Zack Holdridge (ZH): No, this is my first time!
EE: I’m happy to be a part of this journey. So let’s get the ball rolling. Tell me a little bit about you. Who you are, where you come from, and how you got started in music.
ZH: My name is Zack Holdridge and I’m 19 years old and I’m from East Greenbush, NY and I got started out in music when I was very little. I get told that when I was little I was always singing. Always. I always had a passion for music and I love all kinds [of it. Like most other school age kids], I was normal and did music in school. I took chorus, and after that I just loved singing. I did the musicals in elementary school, middle school, and high school! In high school I wanted to get more serious about music, so I asked my friend Madison Vandenburg where she went for singing lessons and she led me to Lesley O’Donnell [at Modern Day Music School] and she is amazing! She helped me get to where I am today with writing and recording music!
EE: What little nuggets of information did Lesley give you which you found to be the most helpful?
ZH: Well, I had trouble in my breathing department, and in hitting the notes in the right places She helped me with my breathing—learning to breathe from my diaphragm. I learned that where was more that a chest and head voice and there is a voice in between called the mix and most people don’t really know much about it but it can help you hit a lot of noted you want to hit and doing that and breathing from your diaphragm can help hit higher notes you couldn’t even imagine hitting.
EE: All very useful information for a serious vocalist to learn. What musicians and artists influenced your musical journey?
ZH: I would have to say Ariana Grande for a female artist. She isn’t afraid to be herself in her music and I admire that! For males I would say a tie between Sam Smith and James Arthur because their voices are so unique and amazing. When you listen to their music it’s just something you wanna hear all the time.
EE: I’ve never really listened to James Arthur, but I agree about Sam. The cry in their voice, especially the runs, is so unique. And Ari is a force. While I’m not a huge fan of her new album, there’s hardly a song she’s put out that isn’t a bop. Have you found that these artists influenced your songwriting and /or music-making?
ZH: Yes, actually! The main style I listen to is pop because of them and they really helped my song writing!!!
EE: What is it about pop music that you love so much? Or rather, what is it about pop music that makes you want to write pop music?
ZH: I feel like the mood behind [pop] just makes you wanna dance, and I love dancing. Some of the music is just so nice and mellow, and it makes you relaxed. And some makes you sad. I want people to feel those things when they listen to my music. I want them to be able to jam along and dance to it.
EE: There’s a pop song for every emotion under the sun. What aspects of pop music did you bring to your new single? Was the emotion you wound up with the one you started it when you started writing and producing it?
ZH: I brought the love aspect that most artists have in their music, and the emotion was kind of a happy-in-love-smiley emotion. I wanted people to be happy and smile when they listen to my song!
EE: What was different about the whole music writing/producing/recording process than what you expected?
ZH: A lot more was different than I [thought]. Writing is a challenge. My original lyrics changed as the song was being made. Sometimes it takes awhile for you to get the sound you want. Recording is pretty hard as well because you have to do so many takes, which is awesome to find the sound you want. But while I was recording I made a lot of mistakes. Mistakes are okay though because it shows you what you need or want to improve.
So I wrote the song in high school at the beginning of 2019, and I didn’t really get it going until late 2019 and began getting a backtrack to it. Had to make sure it was going with the lyrics a little and changing them if needed. Then more of the background music was made. As that went along, I started recording and once I was done; a couple things were touched up. I added my backtrack music and changed some of the beats and piano.
EE: What was a mistake that you found to be the most impactful in your experience? If you wish to share, of course.
ZH: If I’m gonna be honest I definitely feel like hitting some of the notes just right and making it sound like I wanted it to sound was my hardest experience
EE: And that’s okay. Like you said before, mistakes are okay because it shows you want or what you need to work on. I think that’s some really excellent advice, actually.
ZH: Thank you!
EE: So you mentioned that Madison helped you with this song? How long have you known her, and what sort of help did she offer throughout the process?
ZH: So actually I have known Madison since she was in 7th grade and I was in 8th. We met at a talent show, funny enough. In my song, she helped me with a couple of lyrics and she also produced it for me as well! She is a really close friend to me and she’s been such a help with producing and getting me to write more songs!
EE: Did she give you any advice that you found particularly useful or insightful? Especially given that she’s now been out there as a professional musician, and in a pandemic nonetheless!
ZH: Yes. I get really bad writer’s block when I write. She told me when I have writer’s block to just write how I feel and how I want the song to go, even if it doesn’t sound good. Just keep writing and later on fix or take out what you don’t like. Also, don’t give up… sounds corny but you just keep going, and just keep writing, and just keep recording. Never give up and just keep going.
EE: Corny is corny for a reason. A lot of the time, it’s the truth and it’s what works.
ZH: Yeah, it is big time.
EE: So obviously the music industry as a whole has felt a lot of pressure in many different ways due to COVID-19, and I imagine you have felt a little of that yourself. How has COVID affected you as a musician and how do you think any of the aforementioned would have changed if we weren’t smack dab in the middle of a historic pandemic.
ZH: Right when I got up the courage to try to start doing gigs and performing was right when COVID-19 hit. So I never had the chance [to play out] because of the pandemic hitting. But I also feel like it made me a better musician at the same time! I got to focus on a lot more stuff like producing music, and learning more about which software to use, and which microphones are good to record with, and how you need an interface to make it sound professional. So I was able to learn all of that, which is pretty awesome. It also kinda changed my song. My song was originally supposed to come out in the summertime, but with the pandemic Maddy and I couldn’t really work on it together because we were worried and wanted to be safe. So we put it on hold. If the pandemic never happened, my single would have come out on July 7th, which was months before the actual release. If I’m going to be 100% honest, I’m glad it didn’t come out then because we had more time to really mess around with it and make it what I really wanted, and make it something that people would enjoy!
EE: Are you comfortable sharing some of the changes you made to the song in that time or the ways you changed things so it resulted in what we have now?
ZH: So some of the parts in the song were lower—like the end of the first verse had a run in it, but I decided to make the note higher. I hit it, and it worked out well and so it stuck. For the bridge, the climax note wasn’t as good the first go round, but I let it stick…until later on I was messing around with Maddy and I was just doing runs and we both loved it and made it the bridge.
EE: What is one thing you learned from the writing & producing of this single that you will continue to employ going forward as you make music?
ZH: The order of which to do each step in. You write lyrics, make the backtracking, and then mix them together. Also when I’m writing no matter, how much I don’t like it, keep going and fix it later!
EE: What are you working on now, and what can we expect from you in the future?
ZH: I’m currently working on an EP with five songs on it! I’m going to be making more music and releasing more.
EE: What do you use to make your music?
ZH: I have a MacBook and use Logic X Pro to make and record my music.
EE: How can the Nippertown readers help you out going forward?s
ZH: I would love it if the readers can give a listen to my music, share it, and follow me on Instagram at Zack71001. I’ve also got merchandise, shirts and hoodies, for my single for sale!
Writer’s note: I just want to express how grateful I am to Zack for all of his patience with me in what has been a very busy several months for me. Thank you Zack!