Reading about, listening to and witnessing a performance by Zach Deputy are three entirely different experiences, and all of them are a mildly disorienting at first. But everything makes complete sense about two minutes into seeing him live.
Deputy’s music incorporates a plethora of technology — including drum and looping machines, among several other effects and devices — but its core creation comes from his voice and an acoustic guitar. His studio recordings often sound like the work of a full-on powerhouse Funk band with a classic Soul vocalist that is also able to shapeshift into Reggae, Gospel, Hip Hop, Soca, Folk Rock, Pop, Blues and any number of other formats, pulling each into the sonic whole without making it sound like an awkward mash-up. In fact, a big part of the intensely rhythmic music’s appeal is its fluid, organic vibe.
Then there are the performances. A Deputy concert is a kinetic, mesmerizing whir of energy, improvisation, soulfulness, playfulness and joy, though he performs alone and seated with his acoustic guitar on his lap the entire time, jostling between various knobs, buttons and microphones to concoct his groovy jams.
After playing in bands for several years beginning in his early teens, Deputy started getting burned out, eventually selling his gear and eyeing a different line of work. But inspiration struck once again when he started playing shows with just his acoustic guitar and began experimenting with loops. His “one-man-band” shows became the talk of the Savannah, Ga. club circuit and word-of-mouth soon made him a popular draw nationwide.
Deputy has continued to challenge himself when making an album, exploring his songwriting and presentation, as well as persistently reaching deeper into his bottomless bag of genres. His albums (and dozens of live releases, collected and updated at zachdeputy.bandcamp.com) give a great overview of what Deputy has to offer, but the uninitiated should take a peek at a few YouTube videos of him performing — you’ll immediately understand why people freak out about his shows and you’ll likely find yourself making plans to catch him when he pulls through Cincinnati this weekend.