“Play music because you love it, not because you think you are going to be a star. If you call yourself an artist, then have something to share.”
Check out the interview with Zack Kirkorian exclusively on Skilly Magazine Online.
SKILLY: Where did this all start? Tell us about your journey in the entertainment business.
Z.K: I’ve been creating music since I was an infant and continue to this day. My fondest memories are of touring the country and playing the Sunset Strip in the days when Aqua Net laden music fans packed Gazzarri’s, The Roxy, and Whiskey A Go Go. I got the chance to play all the great clubs, see all the up and coming artists. A highlight of that time led to a role as keyboardist for Columbia Recording Artists, Warrant. As the vibe died on the Sunset Strip, I had to reinvent himself. I sold gear at Goodman’s Music in North Hollywood, and as computers became the center of modern studios, I landed a technician’s position at Steinberg GmbH, one of the world’s leading musical software companies and developers of Cubase, a popular music recording, arranging and editing software used in digital audio workstations. My tenure at Steinberg gave me the mastery of studio techniques drawing the attention of Leon Russell who hired me as his in-house engineer. So, I’ve been immersed in the creative process at all levels.
What would be your biggest piece of advice for the young kids out there trying to do what you do?
Play music because you love it, not because you think you are going to be a star. Do you shoot basketballs because you think the Lakers are going to call? Some of the best music is never heard by the masses. Would that stop you from creating? If music brings you joy, then you just play. If you call yourself an artist, then have something to share. Really learn your instrument, and yes, your voice is an instrument. Study music theory, take some classes at your local community college. It will give you ideas and train your ear. Since age 5, I’ve studied music, again throughout college and graduated from the Grove School of Music considered the Berkley School of Music on the West Coast.
What are some of the hardest challenges and tasks in your position?
For me, the biggest challenges are all mental. When people hear my live set they love it. The album is getting attention worldwide. Creating music to me just flows, it is a love for the process. Mentally I have down days. We are humans, you know. I don’t mind working many hours for just 3 seconds of sound. I believe that most people don’t really care if you are using Neve preamps and all the best gear. They either like your material or they don’t. That is why I jumped from producer to consumer. I will take the feel and vibe over something technically perfect.
We all know the entertainment business is very tough, but what do you find is the best way to promote and advertise your music?
I say you have to study the business. Search out blogs, magazines, college radio, public access TV. Submit, Submit, Submit. Play shows, sell what you can, give out download cards. I make sure that at my shows people walk away with something. Create a budget for promotions. The business part of it can be frustrating. Reach out and embrace every opportunity. Pay to play, till they pay you. Did I mention use social media?
Tell us about your city. How are the artists and the fans?
Well, Fresno, CA is tough. Not a lot of places to play live especially those that embrace original music. If you got a tribute band you’re in, as a matter of fact, my bandmates and I had a good 10-year run selling out shows in a Pink Floyd tribute band. I had to move back home to take care of my father before his passing. It is relatively inexpensive to live here so it is a great place to work on your music and not be stuck in traffic. As far as the artists go, we truly have some top-notch talents in the Central Valley in all genres of music. If you are innovative and intriguing, you will get local support.
Where do you see yourself a year from today?
Don’t ask silly questions, use your imagination. How about music for mass consumption and mental health ambassador?
Who and what were your biggest inspirations? Who do you look up to in today’s world?
I’m inspired by voids, my music sounds like no one else I hear today. I write what I want to hear even if it is not today’s flavor. My audiences are growing exponentially. “Build it and they will come”. I look up to anyone who overcomes their adversities to be successful and that has nothing to do with money. You find a place of peace and contentment in your life. There is also a human-interest story not noticeable till you see my show. I was born handicap from birth. I have had to overcome my physical disabilities. Most people find it fascinating. Music was/is my sports but it actually runs much deeper than that. Music is the only thing that has never let me down and you truly get out of it with what you put into it. As an artist, I don’t do it for money or recognition. To quote Michael Jackson, “You don’t choose Music. Music chooses you”.
How do you feel about the music coming out today? Do you like it?
This is a really interesting question, in my opinion, I expected to see music to be more complex and more challenging. To me it has become more minimalistic. Artists sampling the past. With that said, at the same time it has become more sophisticated by creating a captivating experience with mostly rhythmic content and less harmonic structures. The voice has taken the place of the hi-hat. And to answer yours, there are many more things I like than dislike in all genres. I’m an equal opportunity listener.
Thanks! Where can we contact you and find you online?
Google Zack Kirkorian Exercise in Stupidity I’m the only one.