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Zach Brandon: “Don’t give in to the idea that you have to follow the mainstream”

Don’t give in to the idea that you have to follow the mainstream — you will burn out. Find the pieces of the mainstream that you can comfortably incorporate to your style, but other than that, let your river take you home. I promise that people will eventually get to feel your energy and they will know […]

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Don’t give in to the idea that you have to follow the mainstream — you will burn out. Find the pieces of the mainstream that you can comfortably incorporate to your style, but other than that, let your river take you home. I promise that people will eventually get to feel your energy and they will know if it’s coming from your heart or not.


As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Zach Brandon.

Los Angeles native Zach Brandon’s inspired guitar work, strong melodies, and distinctly personal lyrics combine the elements of classic and contemporary styles. The 23-year-old artist’s songs are defined by guitar-led musical spontaneity and an unfiltered emotional honesty with themes that touch on love, loss and the bitter-sweet terrain of life. Mentored by Midnight and inspired by artists including John Mayer, Shawn Mendes and Harry Styles, Zach shares a look inside his heart through his catchy hooks, heartfelt anthems and innate musical ability with every note, lyric and melody. Zach has performed live at such LA hotspots as The Mint, Genghis Cohen and The Viper Room.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/ecb4cceca21723cd17deaeec0b4e4bc7


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I am so glad to be here, thank you for having me! So, I grew up in Los Angeles with two extremely loving parents, and a perfect role model for an older brother. My dad grew up in Brooklyn, where his entire extended family lives to this day, so we spent every summer in New York. Other than that, I guess I’d say that I played a lot of instruments growing up, and I also played competitive soccer through my sophomore year of college at USC.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I played music my whole life growing up — I was forced by my parents into piano lessons to keep me busy, and that stuck for about 3 years, until I was 11. Then, I got tired of that, so I played drums for another few years. After that, I took a break from music, only to find myself playing guitar around 16–17 (which, consequently, was when I started writing). Music was always in my bones, but I waited to take the leap of faith until I was 21. At 21, I was sitting in a cubicle at a Real Estate internship when I realized that I needed to do something that fulfills me, not something that was inherently safe — and now, here I am — a full fledged musician.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Waking up one day to find out that I got #1 on KROQ Locals Only after being on it for only 2 weeks was very exciting — especially considering that 2 weeks prior was my radio debut.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I have made so many mistakes, but I would say the most important one so far was when I was wholly underprepared my first time really recording in a professional studio with uber talented musicians. I was recording with two musicians who I didn’t know (although now we play together and cross paths often), and I only really got in my zone 2–3 days before going in. When we got in the studio, I felt psychologically underprepared — like I didn’t deserve to be in a beautiful studio just walking in without being “in form” — and it had a huge influence on my confidence and therefore my playing. I really learned and internalized what people mean when they say “always be ready so you never have to get ready.”

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Can’t say yet, but I am working on my most honest, and powerful work that I think I have ever touched. I feel really proud to watch myself continue to mature as an artist and stand firmly in the ground that I occupy.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

I feel that diversity in entertainment is so important because everybody needs to feel like their stories are being told. Everyone deserves to feel elevated and understood. If, as artists, we cannot ensure that everyone feels seen and heard, then are we really doing our job? Our job is to empower people into having confidence in their experiences and emotions, but if a fan listens to music and it feels like they’re watching their experience through binoculars instead of watching it in the front row of a live theatre show, are they going to experience it with as much potency? Probably not.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Practice your instrument until you aren’t afraid of it.

UNDERSTAND YOUR RECORDING SOFTWARE

Write for you, but make sure others are going to be able to digest it easily

hooks hooks hooks

It’s better to be different than to be better

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Don’t give in to the idea that you have to follow the mainstream — you will burn out. Find the pieces of the mainstream that you can comfortably incorporate to your style, but other than that, let your river take you home. I promise that people will eventually get to feel your energy and they will know if it’s coming from your heart or not.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would say that it’s important to look desperately for what makes you confident and secure, and chase it. When you are secure, everything falls into place. You won’t be anxious, you won’t feel out of control, and most importantly, you will be enabled into being kind, because you will not fear others’ successes in relation to your own. The bravest, and most successful people, are those who lift up the people around them, not hold them down.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Charlie Midnight (and Jan Fairchild). They are now my two partners, but I really would not have the confidence that I have in myself as an artist, as well as the confidence that I have in my music, without them. Charlie found me gigging one night and he was the first person to really believe in me. Charlie put so much time into me when I was nothing, and so did Jan. To this day, Jan and I walk laps for 60–90 minutes after every session we have, just talking about whatever.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Comparison is the thief of joy” — my guitar tech (@modernguitartech) Luis has this on a little board in his shop, and I’ve never talked to him about it’s influence on me, but it really has impacted me. Every second you spend thinking about someone else’s successes, it’s a second you lose that you can be working on bettering yourself. Additionally, everyone’s success is different, so there really is no point in comparing anyways. Some people shoot into instant success, some, like Lizzo, take 7 years. But I’m sure that if she was constantly comparing herself, she wouldn’t be where she is today.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Steve Jordan. Let’s make some music if you got the time man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How can our readers follow you online?

I’m most active on my instagram @_zachbrandon. Come hit me up and let’s talk music, life, whatever you want!

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Thank you very very much for having, looking forward to talking again in the future.

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