Sometimes when you hear a track for the first time, you just know it's going to be a hit. When Zach sent us his newest single Turn It Around, we got those vibes immediately. His own opinion of the track initially surprised us though- he thought it was "too basic" and maybe not even worth releasing at all. He also confessed that if he could, he would get rid of all pancakes in the world because they are the most overrated breakfast food. That we can actually get on board with. But enough about breakfast food, please welcome neutral. to 60 Questions!
Hey man! Thank you so much for talking to us today. We’re super stoked to get to know you better!
Zach: No problem! Thank you for having me.
Let’s jump right in. What’re doing right now?
Zach: Besides talking to you? I’m actually on my way to work! I work a coffee shop called Blend in my hometown. I also just donated blood, so it's been a busy day so far.
Woah, busy day for sure! Where are you from?
Zach: Yeah, I even got breakfast with my grandma! I’m from Washington, Illinois which is a very small town about two hours away from Chicago. We moved here when I was like 2 years old, and I've been here ever since.
Right on. What’s your favorite thing about living there?
Zach: Haha there's not very many. I’d have to go with my friends- since there’s not a ton to do in Washington I feel like I have most of my fun doing stuff with them.
Makes sense. What’s your least favorite thing about living there?
Zach: Probably that since it's such a small community, you end up seeing the same people everywhere. Like you can't go or do anything without running into someone. It's strange.
Gotcha. Tell me about your artist name. Does it have to do with chemistry? What’s the meaning behind it?
Zach: I don’t really know where it came from, I was rebranding myself because I used to go by my my real name but it was feeling kind of stale. When I text people I always use the slanty face emoji - I’m kind of obsessed with it haha. I’m also a very neutral person and not really opinionated, so combining that with the slanty face emoji I thought neutral. was cool.
We like it! What's the best piece of advice your parents have given you?
Zach: Probably to quit music and pursue a college degree! Haha I haven't really taken their advice though.
I'm not sure we support that advice either! Are you currently in college?
Zach: Yeah I was, I went to the University of Iowa and then transferred to community college when I wanted to pursue music more seriously. I’m taking a small break this semester to see how this whole music thing goes. Fingers crossed!
Well we think it’s working out pretty well so far! What’s one thing you always have to have on set?
Zach: Definitely my laptop! But also a drink, I really like Jack and Coke- so probably one of those.
Let’s talk about your new track Turn It Around. How’d you pull it together?
Zach: So I got the vocal a while ago from an artist who didn’t want to be accredited. She sent me the raw vocal and it was totally dope, like I knew immediately that I wanted to use it. A few weeks later I finished the production of the rest of the track and made it my own! I honestly didn't think it was going to do that great, so the success it's seen over the past weeks has been amazing.
Nice man, we really like it. What’s a cause you really care about?
Zach: I really care about the environment. When I’m not working or making music I really like being outside. I haven’t really done a ton of volunteering to support the cause, but it’s definitely on my mind and something I plan on working on in the future.
Fair enough. What do you think the best show on Netflix is right now?
Zach: Oh, that’s a good one. I really like Ozark, it’s one of my favorites for sure. I just finished the first season... It’s really weird to see Jason Bateman in a serious role, but I think he pulls it off. I can’t wait for the second season!
Totally agree, it’s a great show. Alright on a more serious note… Do you know what you’re going as for Halloween?
Zach: Haha I haven’t thought that through! I don’t even know what I’m doing the rest of the day, I’m pretty sure I’m working on Halloween. They’ll definitely make us dress up as something though, I need to figure that out.
Working on Halloween! That should be illegal. Alright, the next couple of questions are called Hot and Cool. You know the drill, ready?
Zach: Haha let’s do it.
Awesome. Hot and cool, but they’re obsessed with Razor scooters.
Zach: ABSOLUTELY. That’s really edgy, and I love Razors haha. They're super dangerous too, which I think would make her even cooler.
Hot and cool, but they think you’re a Pokemon trainer.
Zach: No way, like never.
Yeah that would be too much. Alright, this is a good one since you work at a coffee shop: Hot and cool, but they insist that you drink a pumpkin spice latte whenever you eat with them.
Zach: Yikes, I try to avoid people like that in general haha. Not down.
Hot and cool, but every Monday they wear a bikini wherever they go.
Zach: That depends. If you’re living in California it’s kind of acceptable... I’m gonna go with yes. I mean they’re hot right so why not?
True! Hot and cool, but they say a “Your Mom” joke whenever they get a chance.
Zach: Hmmm, I don't think so. That would’ve been awesome like ten years ago! Back in high school I would’ve thought she was hilarious.
Very true! Good job. Ok, back to normal questions. What’s the best date you've ever been on?
Zach: Hmm... I won’t act like I go on a ton of dates, I'm a pretty busy guy. But I do I like to go to this park near me, maybe after a dinner. I took a girl there a while ago and it was a really fun date.
That does sound nice. What's the worst date you ever been on?
Zach: I actually have never gone on a bad date! At least not one I remember.
Lucky you! If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Zach: Probably the west coast, like Los Angeles. I did a show out in San Francisco about a month ago then spent a couple days in LA. I absolutely loved it.
We’re definitely jealous of their weather. Do you have any shows coming up that you’re stoked about?
Zach: I don’t have anything major planned just yet, but I do have a local show next week that I’m excited about! I’m also part of a collective that does shows in Orange County, so hopefully I’ll be doing some stuff with them soon.
Nice, good luck! What was your favorite moment of the past year?
Zach: I’m going to have to go with the San Francisco show, it was like the best show I’ve ever done. When I dropped my Alan Walker remix, the place went nuts. That was like the best moment ever.
What’s your favorite thing to cook?
Zach: Probably falafel! Weird right?
No way, that’s pretty advanced. What’s your favorite sports team?
Zach: The Detroit Redwings. I've played hockey since I was 3, so I'm super into the NHL and the Redwings are my team.
Very Cool. Along those lines, what’s the best sports movie of all time?
Zach: Miracle! I actually watched it a couple days ago and realized the acting wasn’t as great as I remembered. When you’re a kid you don’t notice how bad the acting is in movies. But it’s still great though.
So True. What’s your favorite book?
Zach: Freakonomics- I was actually forced to read it for my ACT class, but I ended up loving it.
Do you enjoy playing on stage or working in the studio more?
Zach: That’s a tough one. Probably playing on stage because it’s a culmination of all the work you’ve put in, and you get to see what you’re working for. The studio is where I spend a majority of my time but I feel more fulfilled on stage I think.
Makes a lot of sense. Where was the first place you played?
Zach: The Blue Moose Tap House in Iowa City, Iowa. I was shaking the whole time, there were like 25 people there, it was great haha. But I honestly haven’t done a ton of live shows, I think my SF show was like my 4th show? And that one was in front of thousands of people. So it's jumped up pretty quick.
That’s crazy. If you could play at any Venue, where would it be?
Zach: The Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, that’s where I saw my first electronic show. It was Flux Pavilion, and from that day on I’ve been dying to play there. That’s been the dream for a while now.
What song is stuck in your head right now?
Zach: The new Illenium song, Beautiful Creatures with MAX is phenomenal. But have you ever heard of TELYKast? I’m friends with Kyle, one of the members of TELYKast, and I love their song There For You. Whenever I’m at the studio I’m thinking of that song.
That’s a great song for sure. If you could meet any celebrity right now, who would it be?
Zach: Probably The Chainsmokers. I feel like they’re always having a really good time, and it would be awesome to meet them and hang out.
Totally. Ok, this next section is called this or that. We’re gonna ask you which of two things you like more. Ready?
Alien or predator?
Zach: I’ve actually never seen either movie, but I feel like Predator sounds cooler. So let’s go with that.
French Toast or Pancakes?
Zach: French toast. If it was waffles vs. french toast I would go with waffles. But pancakes are up there with the worst breakfast food in my opinion. Not to be dramatic, but if I could I would get rid of all pancakes.
Haha that's aggressive! But we also like French toast more so it's all good. Kanye or Jay-Z?
Zach: Kanye, he is incredible. I don’t like him as a person, but his production is phenomenal.
Agreed. Beer or Wine?
Zach: Wine! Not a huge beer drinker.
Disneyland or Six Flags?
Zach: Disneyland! I went to Disneyworld with my family last year, and it was awesome.
Pine tree Or palm tree?
Zach: Palm tree.
Night out or stay in?
Zach: Can I go with both? But if I had to pick, stay in.
Scuba dive or rock climb?
Zach: Scuba dive, that would be cool
Fuckjerry or Beigecardigan?
Zach: That’s a good one! Fuckjerry, I feel like he’s more edgy.
Opera or Symphony?
Zach: Symphony, I don’t know if I would vibe with an opera haha.
Totally. Good Job! Alright, back to normal questions. Who do you look up to most in the music industry?
Zach: Illenium, he’s one of my favorites. His sound is so impresive. If you would have asked me this a year ago I would have said the Chainsmokers. They really helped me find my sound I think. But I'm not the biggest fan of their newer stuff.
Yeah their newer stuff is questionable. What’s your favorite chick flick?
Zach: Legally Blonde for sure haha.
Great movie! What’s your favorite app?
Zach: Soundcloud, it’s how a listen and find new music.
Fair enough. What are you super interested in that most people haven’t heard of?
I really like going to the gym a lot- most people have heard of that but I’m still super into it. Fun fact, in the spring of 2015 I weighed 350 pounds, and since then I’ve lost 100 pounds! Going to the gym and eating healthy have really helped.
Wow, that’s awesome dude! Is there anything you regret not doing when you were younger?
Zach: Probably making music, I wish I got into it earlier. I didn’t really start producing until I was nineteen, which was only two years ago! Artists like Whethan that broke onto earlier seem like they really have it going for them.
Can’t agree more. Only a few left! What’s your favorite saying?
Zach: How about “shit happens”, does that count?
Sure! What’s one habit you wish you could break?
Zach: Doubting my music is definitely one. Two weeks before I released Turn It Around I was really doubting whether I should release it at all. And everyone who’s heard it now loves it. So I think I need to just have more confidence in my production.
Well we think it's awesome. What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
Zach: Getting in front of 1,200 people in San Francisco for sure. That was intense. Awesome, but stressful haha.
Yeah that's nuts. Okay last one, who makes you laugh the most?
Zach: Dillon Francis… or have you seen Nathan For You on Comedy Central? It’s so good, that show is hilarious.
This interview has been edited and condensed.