Interview with Zechariah Lloyd
Born to a drummer and pianist in Vicksburg, MS, Zechariah Lloyd woke up every morning to his mother playing on her baby grand. He began playing drums at age 11 on his father's drum set - cutting his teeth on Zeppelin & Skynyrd records he borrowed from his uncle and playing with the church band. After high school he ended up in Alaska for work, picking up the guitar, and crafting his songwriting skills. He showed back up in Mississippi a year later with long hair and a song to sing.
In 2015, Zechariah Lloyd won the Vicksburg Blues Challenge and went on to represent the Vicksburg Blues Society in Memphis for the 2015 International Blues Challenge, where he made it as a finalist in the solo/duo division.
Down to the River, his first single recorded with Plaid Dog Recordings (Boston, MA) was self-released in 2019 and was used to help crowdfund the full EP, titled “Heart in a Notebook.” in 2020, Down to the River won 1st place Blues for both the Unsigned Only Competition AND the International Songwriting Competition. It placed 2nd in Blues for the 2021 International Songwriting Competition.
After delays attributed to the global pandemic, Zechariah & Plaid Dog Recordings were able to finish the EP in February of 2022. The EP, “Heart in a Notebook”, will be released to all public platforms July 14th, 2022. The single, “Heart in a Notebook” releases July 1st. While promoting the release of his current EP, Zechariah Lloyd has been and continues to work on his full-length album with producer, Billy Smiley, at The Sound Kitchen studios in Franklin, TN
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
My family: my mother & grandmother played piano in church, grandfather led music at the Methodist Church, father and uncle were drummers. I'm also a chef, if I weren't into music I'd probably be pursuing that as a full time career.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I love cooking, hanging with family, being outdoors, and road trips to music festivals and new places. I feel like it ALL influences creativity in different ways. My Songwriting, a lot of times, is my way to process life experiences, so getting those new life experiences is important for the process, I feel.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I'm originally from Vicksburg, MS. I currently, and for the last 10 years or so, have been based in North Mississippi. Exposure to the Hill Country Blues of North Mississippi has definitely had a huge impact on my music. Before stepping into the Songwriting world, I played as a drummer for regional acts such as Eric Deaton ( on tour with the Black Keys), Garry Burnside, Duwayne Burnside. I played a gig with Kenny Brown and Carey Hudson Once as well. It all ties into my writing style.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
I think the worst show I've EVER played was as a drummer with a North Mississippi Blues artist, Andrew Hancock. We were booked as an electric Blues act at some random new venue in Memphis- not sure how we got the connection. The owner kept coming up and asking us if we could get quieter and quieter, until the guitar players literally had their amps as low as they could go and I was BARELY tapping the drums at all. It was miserable. A great story now, but the worst "gig" I think I ever played.
I've had a lot of really GREAT gigs. I don't know if I can pick the "best." I will say, the first time I played a show and saw someone singing along with one of MY songs, that was something special.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Proud Larry's, in Oxford, MS, is probably my favorite venue to play. Sound guys are great, the sound system is great, it's big enough to fit a decent crowd, but small enough to be an intimate experience with the crowd. The Ryman Theater is a bucket list place to play. I would love the chance to get to play there at some point.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Oof - great question! Marcus King, Lucas Nelson, Gary Clark Jr, Paul Thorn, and Robert Earl Keen
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
Get out there! EVERY gig is an opportunity to network and meet people. I've played many gigs that weren't the best paying gig or were a long commute to make happen, but I met someone who connected me to something bigger and better in the area. People and relationships are the heart of being successful in music.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Be confident, stay with it, take chances.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
It's never been recorded, but the first complete song I ever wrote called "A Song for Her." It was the first time I finished a song and felt like "woah, that's an actual song, and it's good." It gave me the confidence to keep writing.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
My favorite new-ish song to play is Down to the River. With the full band, it's just so fun to play that tune. The guys fill out the sound and round off the whole vibe. And since it came out. That's probably the most requested tune I have online.my creative process depends on the song. Sometimes, I have lyrics and need music - so I write the guitar part to put lyrics to the riff, finish it from there. Other times, I'll have a riff or progression that I really like and I have to find words to fit it. A lot of the time though, I'll have something I have written about an experience or sometime I'm dealing with, and I'll write music for it after the words.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
A lot of songs I've written are about heartbreak and those songs are more of my way to process, but I try to put positivity into my songs, when applicable. "Waste These Days" is a good example. It's probably my "preachiest" song, but it's pretty much a call to action, saying that we need to each do our own part to be an act of good in the world. Though Down to the River is an origin song, I feel the chorus lyrics are both a literal and figurative mantra. Going "down to the river" was something I did a lot growing up, but is also an analogy for taking time to be with oneself for reflection, prayer, and meditation. I hope that translates to the listeners.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
Most folks I collaborate with are pretty easy going. If a disagreement arises, we usually try to make sure everyone's views are expressed and fully understood before trying to make a compromise. But compromise usually works out fine. In the event it doesn't, it may boil down to "who's the majority input in the song's origin?" And they have the final say. Everyone just wants to be heard and for things to be fair. And, obviously, for the song to be the best it can be.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Well, I just recorded a cut at Wishbone Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL with producer Billy Lawson on a song called "Travelling Man". That will probably be released in the next few weeks.
Also, about to release a music video for my most recent single, Heart in a Notebook. And the folks with Mississippi Songwriter of the Year and the media department at Mississippi State University are working on a music video for my 2020 single, Down to the River.
As far as the future, I'm trying to get on the road and take things to the next level. I've been doing my own booking for a while and I'm trying to grt an agent on board to help get into bigger venues, opening slots, etc.: