Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Zach Hurd: New Beginnings

For a city that bolsters such beauty, power, and culture, it’s not hard to understand why people are often intimidated by her presence. Talent is abundant, seeping out of the aged, familiar cracks on the streets, echoing softly in the branches of the massive trees that have seen generations grow up and move on, whispering in our ears as we stroll down the streets our beloved artists once walked on, feeling the same nerves and anxiety that exist today. For Zach Hurd, a tall, quiet singer-songwriter hailing from Maine, his chiseled features and calm exterior were a simple façade, masking the concerns and fears of moving to New York.

Hesitant to relocate to the city after years of playing out in Maine, Connecticut, and New Jersey in addition to touring the country with his former band “Causeway,” Zach worried he would fall into the path he’d seen so many musicians succumb to- get a day job, work endlessly to pay rent and make ends meet, and eventually forgo music because there just wasn’t enough time. Fortunately, Hurd has experienced quite the opposite; he found himself inspired by and able to identify with the positive vibe in NYC. “New York has this reputation of being so saturated with artists and musicians, and I guess it is in some ways,” Zach explains. “But when you’re here and you’re doing it- it doesn’t feel quite so unattainable… It gave me a new sense of determination and urgency to really be involved in what I’m passionate about.”

Growing up in a home where both parents were singers, one of Zach’s first memories was observing and hearing his mom sing. “I remember seeing it and thinking ‘Wow, that’s amazing,” Hurd recalls, grinning. “My mom has this really powerful voice and she just connects with people.” While Zach inherited the singing genes, he lacked in the stage presence department, opting to play and write songs on his electric guitar in the privacy of his room or as a part of a group. Bands like Nirvana, Jimmy Hendrix, Green Day, and Pearl Jam were influences in his early years, and after learning many of their songs and beginning to write his own, Hurd and a friend were ready to take on an open mic freshman year of high school. “I could have wet myself I was so nervous,” laughs Zach, recalling the memory.

Over time, the nervousness wore off, and Hurd continued to hone his skills throughout high school and college, eventually forming Causeway with Barbara Pecirep and booking college tours throughout the country. The duo moved to Middletown, NJ as an attempt to get closer to New York City, but after a year and a half Zach decided to break out on his own, picking up and moving to Williamsburg two years ago. The move was an attempt to start focusing on his own music and ambitions, and felt a bit nerve-wracking at first for the new kid in town. “When I moved here, it felt like I was starting all over again,” Hurd confesses.

The singer-songwriter began playing out everywhere he could, making connections, playing open mics such as Spike Hill and Heartland, and re-visiting the New York Songwriter’s Circle, an organization he was already familiar with during his time in Causeway. Feeling apprehensive about going solo and unsure how it would be received, Zach was pleased to find it opened some new doors for him, helping to meet new people, boost his wavering confidence, and obtain feedback and support on new work.

Now Hurd is preparing to release his latest album “Changing Landscapes,” recorded at Thump Studios in Greenpoint, and features Hurd, Richard Levengood (the owner of Thump) on drums, Nick Sullivan on bass, and Norman Vladimir, Lourdes Santiago, and his mom Laurie Hurd on back up vocals. After years of trial and error, Zach is extremely proud of the finished product, and looking forward to the upcoming record release show at The Living Room on August 27 at 8:00pm. “I took more risks,” Hurd reveals, “It’s experimental in places. I wanted to try new sounds, think more out of the box.”

Often lyrically inspired by the more challenging parts of life, such as relationships gone wrong and death, Zach also finds himself stimulated by creative people and fellow artists, observing life through a new, metaphorical pair of glasses. “People who are always creating inspire me to want to go back to my apartment and write,” claims Hurd, adding, “I’ve been moved a lot lately by painters and visual art. Living in the city there’s so much of it- its so visually stimulating. There’s so much to work with.”

As time passes and life continually evolves, Zach’s love and passion for music grows exceedingly evident. Determined to maintain a career based on longevity and a wonderfully loyal fan base, much like singer-songwriters James Taylor and Beck, Hurd greatly admires creativity and classic resonation, striving to produce the same qualities in his own work. “The music is really important to them,” Zach notes. “Yeah, they’ve had some hits that allowed them to continue their careers, but it’s easy to see it’s not about the hit song, it’s about doing what’s right for the music… Just doing what you love.”

An artist who has quietly crept into the NYC music scene with his inventive, captivating sound and a warm sincerity that instantly draws you in, Zach is bound to make giant strides in the wake of his latest album. Understanding the importance of overcoming hardships and insecurities and pushing yourself to get to the places you need to be, Hurd is the upcoming artist to watch- securing a place on the stage and a place in the hearts of enthusiastic audiences and familiar faces that make the “Big Apple” seem that much smaller.

For more information on Zach please visit www.myspace.com/zhurd or find Zach on Facebook at www.facebook.com/zachhurdmusic. Be sure to check out the Record Release of "Changing Landscapes at The Living Room this Thursday, 8:00pm and get your copy!

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