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Q & A with Matt Zajac

Matt Zajac
How old were you when you first started playing?

I grew up in a household where music was revered. My father is a working musician, a teacher and performer. I have pictures of me as a kid climbing up to the drum throne and banging away before I could even speak. I began playing at five years old.

Where did you go to music school?  What did you study there?

I graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2018 with a degree in Professional Music. I also studied at Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain. Over the years I took classes in music theory, technique, ear training, various drum labs (rock, funk, jazz and Afro-Cuban), chart reading, world percussion and improvisation.

What are your favorite kinds of music to play and why?

I love playing rock n’ roll, funk and blues which all have an underlying thread of jazz. Improvisation is a big component of my playing but only possible from years of study and practice. I like to be able to communicate on the fly and have a “conversation” with other musicians as opposed to always reading written arrangements.

What are some of the musical styles you teach?

Like most Berklee grads I play and teach many different styles of music across cultures. Rock, jazz, metal, Latin… I like when my students are well-rounded, studying the similarities and differences between musical styles. This makes them better suited for any musical situation.

Where are some of the places you've performed?  

I’ve been performing across New England since I was in elementary school. In more recent years some of the more exotic concert locations around the world include London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Valencia and Ibiza.

Who are some of your favorite bands and musicians?

I love classic rock, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and more are always in my rotation. I also love classic jazz from artists like Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Among my favorite blues artists are Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. Modern day groups I appreciate include Lettuce, Gary Clark Jr., Alabama Shakes, Norah Jones and Ray LaMontagne.

What are your other musical pursuits and accomplishments?

I sing a little bit but I try and leave that to the professionals. My dad and brother have fantastic voices and I never really live up to the pure bliss that their voices emanate. I tend to leave most all of my practice time towards bettering myself on the drum kit. I play in several different groups right now and take calls for various recording sessions. I gig weekly and I co-write songs with many close friends and family members.

What are some of your artistic goals?  

My artistic goals include producing more content for people to hear and to write more songs. I always love playing shows and have a goal to play more festivals and expand my audience. Artistically speaking I plan to keep playing the drums with passion until I’m old and grey.

Tell us about your sound clips:

1) The “Portal” recording is from my live performance at TEDx in Spain. A colleague of mine Rodrigo Andreuik wrote the tune and we performed it at Valencia's TEDx talk. 2) “Space to Be” was also recorded during my time in Spain where I met other musicians local to Valencia. We met at a club, began jamming and composing tunes to play live. This clip is a short portion of a track from a live-in-the-studio session. 3) “Red Bounce” is a completely improvised piece featuring three other musicians, Jesus Molina on keys, Nick Sabet on guitar and Devon Maloof on bass. We got together in the studio and recorded some live jams. This is a cut from that session.

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