Musician and producer Zack Arnett has recently begun a new project under the alias of SUR. Emily May recently spoke with Arnett about this project. Check out SUR’s new single above, and what Arnett had to say below.
Congratulations on the release of your debut single, “Lean Back”! How has the reception been so far?
So far so good
In addition to being a musician/producer, you are also a visual artist, poet, medicinal farmer and apothecarian, as well as a prolific painter and former graffiti artist. How did you come to be involved with so many different things? Do you feel as though they all kind of feed into each other creatively?
It’s one big happy dysfunctional family up here, we get along for the most part and work together when we need to.
You grew up in an artistic household and started playing guitar at the age of 10, as well as various other instruments. Who were some of your musical influences growing up? Who inspires you today, whether it be musically, spiritually or artistically?
So much of my job is to be searching for inspiration, from everywhere and anywhere, it’s a crucial task that will make or break an artist. I like the way peoples brains work, like how someone will put so much time and effort into something that I know nothing about. Instagram is a good source of new artists and like minded things. I follow a lot of nature photographers that make amazing pictures happen. Come over and find me on insta, you can peak in to my windows.
You built a makeshift recording studio in the back of an RV to begin the writing and recording process for your upcoming EP, Savage Beast? What was it about LA that felt so confining and that led you to record and write on the road? What brought you back to LA to finish recording the EP?The roads in LA are crammed, the place is full of people and I only like some of them. It’s essential to escape and recharge your system, preferably in the wild blue wild open, and then you must return to handle business. You’ll find that upon arrival things become more graceful and with a level head you can filter out the madness, until you can’t, so step repeat.
How do you feel that your songs and the recording process benefited from the different environments of nature/the open road vs the city?
I allowed the environment to be the story teller, I let the landscape write the music, my mood would define the tones and set a solid foundation to bang out a tune. When I got back to the city the songs would change a bit, the grit and the grime came from the city, it’s a good combo actually.
How did Big Sur become your spiritual and creative haven? How did it become such an inspirational place for you?
I’m here right now, she’s so calm and beautiful, I love the way she makes me feel and how she smells, loving her is like no other, she’s one of a kind, mine forever but never mine at all.
Could you talk a little bit about the inspiration behind the EP, as well as the message you are hoping to portray?
I always want to make music that inspires an emotion so if you take that wild ride with me it’s like we’ve been through something together, like a new friend that understands my deepest depths and my highest highs. I try to convey a feeling I’m having and the instruments are my tools… it’s not a job for the timid heart.
What was the appeal for you in doing all aspects of the EP yourself, from the writing, recording, producing, instrumentation and artwork?
I love the gritty sound of “Lean Back”. Did you have a certain sound in mind for the EP when you started writing and recording it, or did the sound naturally evolve?
Everything about SUR is a natural evolution, as soon as it’s over thought and contrived it becomes something else and I don’t like it.
From where do you derive your inspiration when writing songs?
Everything and anything I can get my hands on.
Who are you listening to right now? Are there any new or lesser known musicians that you feel that people should be listening to?
I like anyone who writes music from their soul, it can be mindless music but if there’s soul in it, it’s all good with me.
I saw that you have a residency coming up next month at The Hi Hat in LA! What are you looking forward to the most with those shows? Besides the residency, what’s next for you?
We’re taking over the place! I can’t wait, we’re gonna make it so dope. I want it to feel like we’re all on the illest camping trip of our lives. You guys gotta come through!