We recently interviewed Zachary Parks, a singer-songwriter in the Pacific Northwest. He naturally gravitates towards putting notes and words together to craft songs that celebrate life and hope!
Editor—Hi Zachary. I recently became acquainted with your music and was inspired by what I heard, so I’m happy to be able to introduce you to our ASA community. Tell us a little about yourself and how you became passionate about music.
Parks—Thank you so much for the opportunity to share. I recently graduated with my master’s degree from La Sierra University (an incredible experience) and am currently a pastor at Journey Church in Longview, Washington. I have loved music for as long as I can remember. My parents and grandparents had the foresight to start me in piano lessons when I was four, and I never looked back. I am one of those individuals who has a physical response when they hear good music. I am drawn to unique voicings, and nothing inspires me more than a well-written piece of music in basically any genre. So for me, a passion for music was something I was born with, and it is my family’s investment in that passion that has helped grow it to where I am today.
Editor—Music is a powerful thing. It can be a big part of a ministry or help to shape one’s outlook on life. Do you write songs, or do you mostly play other people’s music? If you write, tell us what that’s like for you? What is your process?
Parks—The answer to that is both. As a church musician, and honestly just a musician in general, I play a large variety of music. I always have and always will love playing other people’s music. Several years ago, I started writing, and I play my music whenever I have the opportunity. The writing process for me is a combination of things. Sometimes I have a melody stuck in my head that I harmonize and put lyrics to. Sometimes (often), a simple phrase such as “watching raindrops die” is so embedded in my brain that I write around it. Other times, there will be a chord progression that ignites something in me, and I write around that. It depends on the moment.
Editor—I’ve heard some of your recordings, and they are good. They sound like studio recordings, and maybe they are. Many would-be artists find the recording process challenging because of having to buy studio time. The price range of $25-50 an hour may not sound like much, but it’s crazy how fast it adds up! What ends up happening is that many artists buy a couple of mics, a laptop computer, some recording software and try to record everything themselves. While this approach is doable, it’s a lot harder than it looks, and it takes a toll on the musician’s creativity, who is now trying to be a musician and a recording engineer. Do you buy studio time or record yourself? Please tell us how you go about recording your songs.
Parks—Studio time is always a delightful experience! While I have made several things with a professional band and in a professional studio, some of my music has been made entirely out of my living room! A recording is always an investment in both time and money, so anybody looking to do it should be aware of that.
I have been slowly saving and purchasing gear for several years now and continually budget to upgrade my equipment so that I can do as much at home as possible. However, the crucial part of my process is mixing and mastering. That is one of the most overlooked parts of recording at home. My mixing and mastering engineer is a guy named Lucas Pimentel, and he can take a home recording and help turn it into something that sounds professional. So for me, recording is a mix of things. Sometimes I buy studio time, and sometimes I purchase band members’ time. Sometimes I record everything with my equipment in my own space. However, all of these options end with a trusted mixing and mastering engineer to help things sound as professional as possible.
It is ALWAYS worth the time and money to take something to the next level. I think the best motto is to produce less at better quality.
Editor—Why do you write and produce music? That may sound like a strange question, but please open your heart to us. Why do you do it?
Parks—I write and produce music because God is good. That may sound like a strange answer, but scripture very clearly tells us that the character of God is goodness. This good God that I serve created beauty, emotion, expression, color, sound—all of which make life incredibly meaningful. So to me, to experience the beauty and especially feeling in life is to acknowledge the character of God. I write and produce because I want never to forget that God is good.
Editor—I love it! And doesn’t the Psalmist say, “Sing a new song to the LORD! Let the whole earth sing to the LORD!” (Psalm 96:1, NLT). Something about a new song is refreshing—especially if it is to the Lord or about Him! Thank you for sharing your journey with music with us, and happy trails!© 2017 - 2023 ASA. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.