THE SEASONS OF ZACH CORNELL

How do you establish your brand of who you are as a musician? 

I think the best way to establish a brand in any business is by being authentic to who you are. I try to be a good, God-fearing man, and I try to write songs about my experience or things that made me who I am. I think by doing that, you establish a brand without really having to try too hard. Being who I am will show people who I am a whole lot quicker than just telling them.

What significance does being able to present yourself to the world through your art have for you?

It’s a different kind of high to me. When someone hears a song that I made up and can relate to it, there’s no feeling like it. I have plenty of songs that helped me get through a tough time or songs that remind me of certain people or feelings, and everyone loves songs like that. When you have the opportunity to be on the other side of that for someone else, you just can’t beat the way that feels. I know everyone that writes says that, but that must mean it’s true.

Do you ever take time to reflect on your career? 

I go through seasons where I reflect a lot, and then there’s seasons where I’m so busy with everything that I don’t take that kind of time out. When I get discouraged because I’m not quite where I want to be, I try to look at where I was this time last year. If I’ve walked a little further now than I did a year ago, I think that’s a success. If I haven’t, I know I need to buckle down and start getting after it. And for that reason I think everyone should spend a little time reflecting, no matter their profession.

Putting yourself first is important but do you ever feel like you put the music in that position sometimes at all costs? 

I don’t think I’ve actually put myself first in a long time. In college, when I really started diving deep into writing and singing, music was always the number one priority. Then I met my wife, and now we have a son that’s pushing a year, so I have had something to put in front of me for awhile. And I think it’s great. I don’t think my dad ever put himself in front of anyone in his family, and I admired that from the time I was little. If the wife and baby are the first priority, that means they’re taken care of. The same thing with my music. If I put the music first and devote as much attention as possible to that, everything is a little better and runs a little smoother.

What has been the best time spent when creating a song? 

One of the songs I have coming out in early 2022 was a lot of fun to create. I love old-timey murder ballads, but you just don’t hear very many of them anymore. The wife and baby were out of town visiting some family in Oklahoma, so I had a little extra alone time. I sat down with this idea of writing a murder ballad, and I took it down every last rabbit hole I could think of. I probably spent six hours straight writing on that one, and if I would have kept everything I wrote it may have been ten minutes long. Of course I ironed it out in the end and I think the record is going to be right at four minutes, but it was the most fun I’d had writing a song in a long time.

Could you tell us a story that sticks with you when it comes to the making of that single?

On the murder ballad, I sat down with no intention of writing something I’d ever record. Sometimes there’s so much pressure to write a great song that nothing comes out. But I was just goofing around with this old Gibson LG-0 I bought in a pawn shop a couple years ago, and playing a little different music than I usually do. Like I said before, I probably wrote enough lyrics for a whole dang book, and it was just nice to write something just for the sake of writing. It doesn’t hurt that it turned into one of my favorites.

How do you make sure you visit your roots as you progress in your career? 

I spent my first 23 years in Texas, so I make sure to get back there as often as I can. There’s just a different atmosphere back home, and just setting foot back in Texas is as good a way as any to get back to my roots. When that’s not possible, I try to spend a little extra time outdoors not doing much of anything. The simple things have always been more important to me than anything, and Tennessee ain’t too bad of a place to keep life simple.

We want to know what your fans are listening to right now that they can’t get enough of? 

My most-listened to song is ‘Next to Mine.’ I wrote that one about my wife back when we were first dating on the Texas/Oklahoma border awhile back. It’s been getting a lot of great reception lately, and I hope it’s a song folks are falling in love with every day.

What are you considering dropping next? 

I have some songs that I just finished up with some of Nashville’s very best players, so those will be coming out come 2022. I’ve got everything from the murder ballad to a new love song to heartbreak and more, and I’m excited for folks to hear everything.

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