January 16th, 2020 7pm Stage 1
New York City-based musician and producer Zach Benson has been making a name for himself in the pop scene since 2017. His hard-hitting, synth-heavy production style paired with his introspective, confessional lyricism has gained the attention of fans across the country.
Born and raised in Northern Virginia, Zach surrounded himself with music from a young age. Between piano and drum lessons, school choirs, musical theater, and a healthy obsession with acts like Green Day and Fall Out Boy, Zach said that he “knew [he] needed to be part of the music world.” At age 13, Zach started playing drums for various local groups. By the time he graduated from high school, he had played over 100 live shows across the east coast.
Zach left behind his drums to study public relations at James Madison University, but “never got rid of the itch to create music.” He began teaching himself music production in order to pass the time in between classes. He started out by creating mash-ups in Garageband, and then became interested in songwriting, drawing major inspiration from acts like The 1975, Jack Garratt, and twenty one pilots.
Soon enough, Zach had his first collection of songs which were released in an EP called Pretty in May 2017. Listeners took interest in his indie-pop style production, especially the slow jam “Kissing as the Cars Pass By,” which now has over 165,000 streams across platforms.
He continued writing more music over the summer, releasing his second EP, Humidity, in September 2017. Track one on the project, “Jaws,” gained traction after being featured on Ash Hardell’s YouTube channel, exposing the song to their nearly 650k subscribers. His single “Best Friend’s Basement” was released in November 2017, and has remained a fan favorite at live performances ever since.
2018 saw the release of Prom, Zach’s third EP. With a strong, crisp sound combining 80s pop tropes with his signature confessional lyrics, Zach found his biggest success thus far with lead single “Running Back.” Songs from Prom were featured on Spotify’s Fresh Finds: Poptronix playlist and Sofar Sound’s Now Playing playlist, as well as various publications such as The Permanent Rain Press, The Music Elk, JMU’s The Breeze, and QT Music Blog. His first east coast tour in support of Prom took place in June of 2018, bringing Zach’s music to New York City, Boston, Connecticut, Virginia and DC.
Zach quickly became known for his high-energy performances, as well as his outspoken support of the LGBTQ+ community. Notable performances include Charlottesville Pride, Shenandoah Valley Pride, Rockville Pride, Sofar Sounds Philly & Long Island, and various appearances at Rockwood Music Hall, Jammin Java and Songbyrd Music Hall. To date, Zach has logged over 75 live performances across eight states.
“The live show is me at my happiest. These songs were all contained in my bedroom for months and months, and seeing people dance, sing, and smile along reassures me that I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing,” said Benson.
Throughout 2018 and 2019, Zach continued touring and releasing music, including four singles — the nostalgic and sentimental “Sunset,” break-up sing-along anthem “Deflated,” sensual banger “kitchen,” and bass-pounding “everything reminds me of u.” These tracks found success online, including editorial playlist spots for “kitchen” and “Deflated,” as well as “everything reminds me of u” hitting #1 on the Q Review 32 Chart for 5 weeks.
During 2019’s pride month, Zach orchestrated and released Power the the Queer Kids, a charity compilation album made up of eight LGBTQ+ artists covering songs relating to their queer identities. “There were so many important songs that made me feel less alone while I was figuring myself out, and I know so many other queer people have had the same experience with music. I wanted to pay tribute to these songs and hopefully inspire LGBTQ+ youth along the way to be proud of every aspect of themselves,” said Benson. The album raised hundreds of dollars for The Trevor Project, and is the first of a collection that will be released annually.
Zach hopes to inspire audiences of all identities to live authentically and love unconditionally. With over 75 live performances, 275k streams across platforms, and recent relocation to New York City, Zach is ready to take over the pop scene in 2020.