Soul Man Zach Deputy Redefines the Solo Album

Zach Deputy is a road warrier again.
Zach Deputy is a road warrier again. Photo by Joaquin Anico

"It's soul music," Zach Deputy says of his sound. "It touches the soul and the soles of the feet. That gets everyone moving to the orchestra in my head."

The Savannah, Georgia-based Deputy, who will play the Wynwood Yard this Saturday, is a 21st-century version of a one-man band, using a looping pedal to layer chord progressions, beatboxing, vocals, bass, drums, and guitar into his performance. He says his most recent record, 2016's Wash It in the Water, took his solo act to a new level.

"It is a one-man album. I did everything from beginning to end. I wrote it, produced it, I played all the instruments. It was something I always wanted to try."

Deputy's self-made-album dreams were inspired by legends like Stevie Wonder and Todd Rundgren. But now that he's on the other side of the project, Deputy better understands the pros and cons of the process. "Making an album all by myself removed me from any influences, which could be a good thing or a bad thing," he says. "It leaves your vision intact when you're not leaning on anyone else. You have to have the song in your head to begin with. You're not thinking about how other people are taking your music; you're just making it."

Now that he's crossed composing his true solo album off his bucket list, Deputy has resumed his road-warrior ways. "I'll probably play 180 or 200 shows this year. I'm trying to slow it down from 300." He credits water, rest, talking to himself, and knowing when to absolve himself from a party for helping him remain on the road for so long.

His next album will be a souvenir of the Zach Deputy concert experience, titled Live in the V.I. It was recorded in the Virgin Islands and is due out this year.

"My mom and grandmother are from the Virgin Islands. Going back there is always special," he says, describing Virgin Islands music as a happy, joyous mixture of Calypso, reggae, and West African sounds. Those rhythms and notes have been eternally inspiring, he says.

"If you hear my songs 'Twisty Twisty' or 'Wash It in the Water,' that's Calypso. It's taking things in a 30-year circle. I'm taking the music that came out of there from the '60s and '70s and bringing it back in 2017."

Zach Deputy
9 p.m. Saturday, April 8, at the Wynwood Yard, 56 NW 29th St., Miami;; 305-351-0366. Admission is free.

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David Rolland is a freelance music writer for Miami New Times. His novels, The End of the Century and Yo-Yo, are available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland