Upon listening to Zac Greer’s debut EP “headaches”, you’d be surprised to learn he’s just 18 years of age. The project has a focused sound, one that he took time to develop after the success of his 2019 hit single, “glitter”. I was lucky enough to interview Zac about the making of his new EP, his journey as an artist and his plans for the future. Along the way, we discuss a mysterious Reddit post, his favorite movie and what childhood activity (didn’t) help him with being an artist.
Maybe we could start with a little introduction, your name, where you’re from?
I’m Zac, Zac Greer, I’m 18, I’m from Arizona and I make music in my bedroom and put it on the internet.
Let’s get right into it. First off, the new EP ‘headaches’ is out. How does that feel?
It feels really great, I had a project come out in the beginning of 2019 that I have since taken down everywhere, so this is like the first focused real EP
or project and feels really good. This EP has been finished since like May, but before that it took me like 6 months to really get it together, and it feels really great for it to finally be out and ride the wave of recognition for a little bit.
What is the significance behind the name ‘headaches’?
Well I wrote the song headaches, before I knew the EP was going to be called headaches, so I ended up deciding to call it that afterwards. I think the word headaches for me is a metaphor for things you have to overcome to figure out who you are, figure out who you have around you that’s important to you, and like overcome the bad stuff to get to the good stuff.
Speaking of which, the title track ‘headaches’, and ‘enemies’ have a more acoustic, organic sound – was that an intentional step in a new direction?
Yeah! I don’t even know if I consciously did that. I think. I started making beats, I think 2 years ago now, my junior year of high school. I didn’t play guitar or anything so all my beats sounded really electronic and kinda fake. Just the music that I’ve been listening to more recently and the stuff that I’ve been playing. I started picking up guitar around the time I started making the EP. I don’t even know if I consciously was like, I’m gonna make an acoustic song or have an acoustic guitar with a trap beat, but that ended up happening, and I was like ‘wow this is really cool’.
The single, “crazy”, has an awesome video by the guys at Overcast, and is my favorite song on the project. What was the process of making that like?
This was like the first video video that I did, and it was really fun. I connected with the Overcast guys around the time I finished the EP, so we got to like take this finished product and sit back and decide how to play this – they were really involved with the entire thing. So the video, it was really fun, we did the entire thing in one night, we drove out to the desert, shot it, and then their friends have this vintage store that you see in the video, we did that. We got back at 3 or 4 in the morning. They’re great guys, I live right down the street from them.
There’s a line in the song that’s a call back to ‘glitter’ – I thought that was a really cool bit of songwriting. Talk a bit about ‘glitter’ and what that song means to you.
I’ve never been asked a question like this, but it’s definitely very on purpose. I like doing shit in my lyrics, I guess you could call it corny, but like it’s meta, you don’t really hear that shit on the radio, so I like saying shit like that. But yeah, so glitter was really cool. The big thing about glitter for me as an artist was that before I put that song out, I was kinda drowning in my influences and didn’t really know who I was as an artist. Not that I do now, but, I definitely didn’t then. I put that song out and it was the first song I put out that didn’t really sound like anything, or wasn’t reminiscent of another artist or style that had already been done. So when the response was great, I was like “oh shit, I can be my own artist, I don’t have to recreate another sound.” Since then, I feel like this EP is more me than anything – that song is cool and I like it but what it meant to me in the greatest sense was that I can just do what’s true to myself as an artist and people are going to respond to it.
Do you now own any Dior or Saint Laurent?
*Laughs* I don’t! I was working on a demo – another one of those lyrics – I was talking about “I did a million streams talking about Saint Laurent and I’ve never even seen Saint Laurent!”
You’re still independent – you produce your own music – I know there’s been by interest from labels – what prompted that decision to stay independent?
That’s a good question. I think you have to get a certain part of the way by yourself. You can only get so far if you have people pushing you, but that’s it. If I had a label or a manager or videos when I was making music a year ago, then people wouldn’t pick up on it. I don’t want to say too much about labels or like those conversations – but now I guess I’ve proved a little bit – the EP is produced, written, mixed by myself – now I can be open to having those conversations.
Let’s throw it back a little – growing up who were some of your influences musically?
I didn’t really get into music until until high school, I started listening to rap – Kanye, Chance, Kendrick – still into that huge fans of them all, but as I refined my taste I listened Frank Ocean and Childish Gambino, and now I’ve been more open to pop shit and Top 40 stuff. I’m realizing you can make stuff that’s “popular” but make it in a cool a way and it’ll be good.
I know “headaches” is your official debut, but the first project you dropped was GROWINGPAINS. “Au Revoir” was how I first found you. If a 16 year old Zac could hear the new EP and see the reaction to it, what would he think?
That’s a great question. I think he’d be thrilled – and I could say the same thing about 18 year old Zac reacting to what 19 year old Zac makes. The truth is though, 16 year old Zac thought GROWINGPAINS was a masterpiece, but now I listen to that and I’m like “euuueww”. Not to say I think “headaches” is a masterpiece, when I listen to it in a year or so I’ll learn from it too.
To keep the throwback going, and I could be wrong on this, but I remember I was browsing Reddit a couple of years ago, and saw a post about how some kid had to change his name because a band with the name “Greer” released their first song? Was that you?
*Laughs*. Yeah that was me. When I released my first project, I was going by the name Greer, and then around that time, this band called Greer – and they make good music – which is why I was so pissed about it, cause I was trying to grind and get better and they were like “we’re already good!” and I was like “fuck!”, you know? So that happened, I don’t know why I wasn’t already going by Zac Greer – I think it’s catchy and cool.
I know you went on tour with Keshi. Where and when was your first gig and how did that feel?
Man, I was so fucking nervous, bro. I did theatre as a kid and I had the mindset that it’d be similar – that you’re just going on stage and performing but it’s not the same. In a good way – I think in theatre there’s pressure to do it exactly right, but for performing it was just about the energy and connecting with people – I loved it. The first show was insane, it was surreal, even walking into the venue and seeing my name as the opener, I can’t even describe that feeling.
That’s sick. Do you think theatre and acting makes music videos easier for you?
No! No. I wish it did. *Laughs*. I don’t think I was ever that good an actor, I was always good at singing. But the new video that we have coming out soon, is a little more conceptual and has me like acting instead of performing all the time, and it looks really good – I’m excited for it. But I don’t think that theatre helped the music video stuff!
If you had to pick one song to recommend to someone who’s never listened to Zac Greer before, what would that be?
“headaches”. I think it’s super accessible and probably the best song I’ve ever written. Your grandma will like “headaches just as much as someone who listens to Post Malone.
If you could put your song in any movie, what movie would you choose?
My favorite movie of all time “The Social Network”. Maybe I’d put “enemies” in the parts where they’re all hating each other and they’re all yelling at each other.
Thanks so much for hanging out!
Thanks so much for the interview!
Watch Zac Greer’s new video for “Enemies” below