All clucked up: A chat with Zach Deputy

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We didn’t realize that the massively talented Zach Deputy would be playing the Ancient Mariner tomorrow — tomorrow being Friday, Jan. 29 — until it was too late to do something for the paper. (But hey, don’t let that stop you from reading this week’s very special Anvil interview
and Grammy predictions.)

Anyway, to appease the gods of music, sin and redemption, I went ahead and e-mailed a handful of questions to the South Carolina-bred musician. Deputy traces his family lineage back to Puerto Rico and St. Croix, which explains why songs like “Home,” the opening track on his Out of Water album, wouldn’t sound out of place on a Wyclef Jean record.

What else should you know about Zach Deputy? Well, for one thing, he’s among the best of a growing number of artists who accompany themselves by recording and looping audio samples live in real time. And for another, he’s arguably funkier than just about anyone else who’s doing that.

He’s also very funny. So go catch his free show in Manitou tomorrow night. He’s scheduled to play from 9:30 to midnight, so you should still be able to drop by after seeing John Hammond, whom we also interviewed right over here.

And so, without further digression, our chat with Zach:

Indy: You do a lot of live looping when you perform, which is something mostly associated with either experimental music or people who’d sound good in a hotel lounge. How does that translate into the more R&B-influenced sound you favor?

ZD:
I think of a live loop machine as an instrument, just like the guitar is an instrument. I’ve heard guitarists that suck and guitarists that wail. You use the instrument to get across your art, but it is the artist who has the vision. In 10 years, when looping is common knowledge, people will quit looking at loop artists as loop artists and simply artists with a cool instrument.

Indy: Do you really play hundreds of shows and live in a truck? Is it a nice truck?

ZD:
Yes, and yes. It’s a cool truck. Most of the time we stay with friends and at hotels, but we stay in the truck when we need to. We love it.

Indy: You have a funky little song about chicken pot pies, which mostly consists of clucking and repeating the title over and over. And you’re also using the lure of chicken pot pies to recruit street team members. Is this kind of an obsession, and how’s it working for you?

ZD:
The song is out of hate. I hate chicken pot pie. Especially frozen chicken pot pies. I wrote the song when I was 18 years old, when I lived with my mom and there was nothing to eat in the house except for chicken pot pie. The song became a song of comedic rage of epic proportions. But, Stouffer's has reported a 20 percent increase in chicken pot pie sales as a result. I’m still waiting for my cut.

Indy: As for the clucking, is that a tribute to the Meters?

ZD:
I don’t know what you’re talking about. "Cissy Strut"? Maybe... I’ve never heard a Meters song with clucking in it that I can recall.

[Note to readers: Zach came real close with his "Cissy Strut" guess. The correct answer is actually "Chicken Strut," which the Meters had a regional hit with one year later. A chicken pot pie consolation prize is winging its way to him at this very moment.]

Indy: Has anyone ever told you that you look a little like D. Boon from the Minutemen?

ZD:
I don’t know who that is. Maybe it was before my time. But I’ve gotten Grizzly Adams, Paul Bunyan, John Popper, Jerry Garcia ... pretty much any big guy with a beard. But to my friends I just look like that Zach Deputy fella.

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