Cover Story

Being an introvert subjects a person to a lot of time alone with their thoughts, for better or for worse. When the world closed down last year due to the pandemic, this was heightened for a lot of us, leaving us with no choice but to confront our innermost thoughts and feelings as we relish our forced solitude and confinement.

While some people took on new hobbies, started new personal projects, or got too deep into bingeing shows online just to distract themselves from their inner turmoils, young singer-songwriter Zachary Knowles worked on putting all of his thoughts and feelings down, and making a fully-realized album out of it.

Titled “tendency to be a loner”, the artist told Rank Magazine that his debut full album is precisely what its title suggests, a deep and intimate look into his own introversion. Before the pandemic struck, and even more so when it was at its peak, he confessed that a lot of his songs were and still are unabashedly personal, hailing proud and true from his own experiences with love, life, and everything in between.

Majority of the tracks on the record were conceptualized and produced with this state of mind, replicating his natural flow of emotions—questioning relationships, foregoing plans, connecting with friends, and finding solace with himself, to name a few.

But the lack of new adventures and first experiences also stripped away his usual sources of inspiration. After all, how many times can you write a song out of the same thoughts you’ve been having everyday? In effect, he challenged himself to tell other people’s stories through his music as well, channeling his friends’ emotions and experiences, and putting it into song.

“As a storyteller, I’m just going to try and tell other people’s stories,” he told himself.

Knowles continued, “It took me a little bit [to get used to it], but once it clicked, once I hopped into Zoom calls, meet new people, and hear about their stories, I was able to collect a lot of ideas and a lot of inspiration through that. I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with it now. I think it’s super fun.”

Now, as quarantine protocols ease up in Texas, USA, where the singer-songwriter is currently based, Knowles discovers that a lot of the songs coming out of him are surprisingly leaning more towards the upbeat side. Being able to go out again and meet people for the first time in a long time has fueled a new trend in his songwriting, which he’s excited to explore further now that his album is fully out, and he’s working on new music. But, he did reveal that a few of those post-quarantine tracks have actually made it on the album as last entries.

“‘tendency to be a loner’, ‘time of night’,’carpool’ and ‘johnny and jun’ are the four that I had made prior to the pandemic. Then I kind of just sat on them for a while, and started making new stuff during the pandemic. Once traveling opened back up, and I was able to get back out and connect with some people, that’s when I made ‘dancing in the kitchen’ and ‘stranger to me’. Kind of the more upbeat ones, which I think is a result of me being stuck inside [for so long], and wanting to create something happy,” he shared.

From the first song to the last one in the 11-track album, it is clear that this record deals a lot with the thoughts one gets when he or she is alone. From “time of night”‘s melancholic questioning to title track “tendency to be a loner”‘s somewhat hopeful invitation to be alone together, it definitely succeeds in Knowles’ intention to take us through his natural flow of emotions.

But, as personal as they are, each track is as relatable as the last one. Telling stories of universal experiences, but from the POV of an introvert. Regardless of this, though, we’re sure even extroverts will feel some type of way from Knowles’ tender melodies and touching lyricism.

“The flow was based around how it feels to be an introvert. Because there are some times when I’m super about going out and hanging out with people, but at the end of the day, I think I’m way more introverted than I am extroverted. So there’s like this constant rollercoaster of going up and down, and I wanted the order of songs to reflect that,” he explained.

He went on, “It starts off slow, and I think it sets the tone for the album and what it feels like to be an introvert. It’s this chilled out, mellow thing. It’s almost like you’re second guessing yourself, and hesitating. I think it sets the tone for what it feels like to be an introvert. [The last song] is very personal to me, and I think it portrays what the album is about, and who I am.”

A lot of people have described Knowles’ music as the perfect “weekend chill” vibe, and we can’t help but agree as we picture it playing in the background of weekend afternoons, us without a care in the world. With his cozy acoustic instrumentals, minimal production, and a simply calming voice to match, it’s likened to classic coffee shop playlists, with a slight R&B twist that has truly captured the Zachary Knowles Sound.

However, to Knowles himself, perhaps his most favorite way to listen to this album is through the car stereo, he told us. Acting as the soundtrack of a late night drive on the freeway, with the windows down and the music turned up—he revealed that this has always been his favorite way to absorb music, and take lyrics to heart.

But ultimately, the biggest hope he has for the “tendency to be a loner” collection is to make people feel understood. To have his words resonate with individuals thinking, feeling, and experiencing the same things as him. As he put it, he aspires to help people have that “that’s me!” moment when listening to the lyrics in this particular body of work, and assure them that they’re seen, heard, and perfectly normal with these thoughts and emotions.

On a personal note, he also sees this album as a reflection of who he is, or was, in 2020. Specifically his state of mind while the world was kept in lockdown, and he had a bit more time and silence to really mull over his own feelings.

“At the end of the day, I really want people to enjoy the music and to give them some art that they can connect with. But I want it to come from a place of realness and vulnerability on my end, too. It be a reflection of something I believe in,” he expressed.

Dropped in August 2021, the album has already amassed thousands of digital plays, with previously released singles going up to the millions, like “johnny & june”, “carpool”, and “dancing in the kitchen, which have collected over 6 million streams since their individual reveals. But if anyone’s coming into his music as someone who has never heard any of his songs before, he noted “life sentence”, “stranger to me” and “carpool” as good introductory tracks, as he shared with us that these specific songs feature musical elements he’s leaning more towards these days.

Now, with his full debut album completely out for the world to enjoy, Zachary Knowles is back to his studio to make more music. Brimming with inspiration from rediscovering the reawakening world, we are certain his next release will be vastly different in message, but still largely in tune with the elements of his distinct sound that we love so much.

As we wait to see what else he has in store for us, we’re keeping this record on our weekend playlists. Blasting it on those afternoons in bed where time is nothing but an abstract concept, and we have all the time in the world to replay “tendency to be a loner”, and feel its words pierce our hearts and thoughts, over and over again.