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The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

    Music is the driving force behind this Asheville resident

    Zander Parry at his makeshift home studio in West Asheville.

    A small glance around the brick apartment is all one needs to infer a musician is living there. The instrument-filled apartment sits in West Asheville down the street from a recording studio. 

    Inside, different styles of art hang on the cracked walls. A tea kettle shrieks from the kitchen. The ceilings are low and all the lights are off except for a lamp that casts a warm glow in the carpeted living room. A silver drum set sticks out from a corner and a guitar is propped up against the couch. Zander Parry falls back into a large chair, letting it swallow him.

    “I started making my own music in 2018, I was 17 at the time but I’ve always been into music and experimented with playing different instruments,” Parry said. 

    Parry, 22, said music has always been predominant in his life as his father is a musician. He said he grew up in a home where music was always playing.  

    “My dad inspired me to get into music. He’s always been a musician and he got me my first guitar. I got to see his practice space growing up and I’ve seen him play a few times. He was the first person to push me to even try to play an instrument,” Parry said.

    Parry glances down at his phone and hesitates for a moment. He then goes into Spotify and turns on a playlist of his favorite Jazz songs. 

    “Good background noise,” Parry said while shrugging. 

    Parry said his father worked in a makeshift studio in his friend’s basement. As a kid, Parry said he loved to spend time there. He would run from instrument to instrument, strumming guitar strings, banging drums and slamming his fingers on piano keys. 

    “Being able to sit at the instruments and see him practice was just really cool. I was listening to  Black Sabbath and Misfits with him. I couldn’t play drums at the time but I would go crazy and hit them while my dad actually played something,” Parry said as he threw his head back smiling. 

    Parry poured himself a drink and said he admired his father because he was so determined and passionate about music but his hobby never took over or became a problem. He said the drive he saw in his father still influences him to this day. 

    When Parry was around 10 his father took him to his first live show. 

    “It was fun, it felt exciting because it was a whole new setting to me. That experience made me think of music in a bunch of different ways like people can listen to music or make music or watch people perform. The live show is like a tangible example of how good musicians can be,” Parry said. 

    Parry said the show took place in a dark club where loudspeakers boomed and bright strobe lights flashed against sweaty faces. Parry said it was some young rock band and he felt immensely cool to be there getting his 10-year-old body rocked and swayed by the crowd. 

    A few years later Parry decided to start taking guitar lessons. 

    “Guitar lessons were very structured. I started them when I was around 11 or 12. It was so strict and you started with very basic stuff. You just had to get a grasp of learning how to hold the instrument and being comfortable with it. We also learned about where all the notes are,” Parry said. 

    Parry said he did not love the structure of the lessons and said he felt a lot of pressure and frustration from his teacher. Parry said this caused him to become uninterested and he stopped taking lessons a few months later.  

    “In my experience when it comes to making or recording music I want to do it in a comfortable setting. It’s just kind of a spiritual thing to me. I’m trying to have fun with it and don’t want to feel graded. I wanted to be comfortable, and this guy was pushing me harder in a way that wasn’t motivating. It was like he was mad at me for not automatically being good,” Parry said.  

    Parry said wanting to learn to play an instrument should not be forced and if he were to mentor someone he would want them to have fun with the learning process. 

    “Wanting to learn music can’t always be forced. At least for me, the more force I felt the more uninterested I became. So it is a self-driven thing and motivation is important. You really have to want it, and practice consistently. To succeed and stay better you have to be comfortable with pushing yourself and I wasn’t really comfortable doing that at the time,” Parry said. 

    After ending guitar lessons, Parry said he realized he still needed music in his life. He said he wanted to explore something new as the guitar was the only instrument he had seriously played. 

    “When I was 14 I started doing drum lessons at the Rock Academy which is an after-school program. A few years later I was drumming in a band and we played a few shows at The Grey Eagle and The Orange Peel,” Parry said. 

    Parry pointed to his drum set and said he used to play a lot but more recently he has been focusing on music production and beat-making. 

    “As far as beat production goes I started when I was around 17. My friend Connor installed a program called Fruity Loops on my computer and I kinda just spent time exploring from there. I also watched a bunch of YouTube tutorials,” Parry said. 

    Parry said he became inspired to make beats by watching people on social media. He said he had always been intimated to create something and put it out there but watching other amateur artists do it encouraged him. 

    “I used to watch this guy named Felly who was putting out videos when he was like 16 or 17.

    Watching other people on social media kind of made me realize how accessible making music could be. It can be intimidating to want to start making music and put yourself out there. Watching other people just made it seem more realistic,” Parry said. 

    Parry said he most enjoys listening to music outside while taking aspects of the environment. 

    “I love listening to music outside, like anywhere outside. Somewhere chilling in nature and looking at the world around you while listening to the lyrics is so cool,” Parry said. 

    Perry said the world around him has changed since creating music. He said he pays so much more attention to sound and can find melodies in any real-life situation. 

    “When I’m listening to music I always look out for tiny details someone may not hear or notice. Once you start making music you just listen to the world in a different way. You hear all sounds as instruments and can hear random sounds at once that can fit into harmony. Like sometimes I’ll be driving and hit a speed bump and the sound worked with the song I was listening to,” Parry said. 

    Parry said he enjoys creating his own music because he can take inspiration from other artists and sounds and make it fit into what he likes. Although there is not much he does not like. 

    “I like making all kinds of music, I’m not really trying to stick to one singular sound or type. I do a lot of sampling so I will listen to a bunch of different music. A lot of soul and jazz but also punk and country, all kinds of stuff. I just try to find crazy sounds I can use as a sample and take a different spin on it,” Parry said.  

    Parry said music is spiritual to him and it can transcend one into a different state of mind. He closes his eyes and tells everyone around him to pause and listen to the smooth jazz encapsulating the room. 

    “Everything about how sound works is so intriguing. All the chords and progressions can create a whole scene. You could close your eyes and listen to a song and let it transport you to somewhere you would never be otherwise,” Parry said. 

    Currently, Parry works as a senior intern at Drop Of Sun Studio in West Asheville. Sitting on Parry’s front porch, one can see the studio down the street, past a busy laundry mat. 

    “I work at Drop of Sun studios in West Asheville, it’s a great facility and I got the internship a year ago. It’s been great because they don’t really require a bunch of experience to start the internship. You can really go there to learn and be introduced to a whole new realm of how music is created,” Parry said. 

    Perry said he is dedicated to his passion and sometimes it can be challenging and takes a lot of determination. He said not every day is a good day and not every song is a good song. 

    “One of the biggest things I’ve learned is you really have to work for it. The beginning of the internship was very basic work that was not exciting. It was like washing dishes and picking up food for the artists and I would help set up for sessions,” Parry said. 

    Parry said there were times when it was tiring but he knew what he was getting into, and ultimately he was just happy to be there. 

    “I was just really excited about the opportunity. I was super excited to be there but realized I needed to put in the work, be there for hours sometimes, be on call and really show up. 

    I had to put in the time to build trust and responsibility and show I could learn quickly and be someone they can rely on,” Parry said. 

    Perry said he highly encourages internships. Since graduating high school in 2019, Perry had gone back and forth about enrolling in college. After starting the internship he said he feels he has found the right learning environment for him. 

    “Anybody can make music in their room, you don’t need school to do it and I got the internship without any experience or being enrolled in school. At the internship, I get to just learn about things relevant to me and what I’m interested in,” Parry said. 

    Perry said his year at Drop Of Sun has been extremely valuable and taught him a lot about music and business. He said he enjoys seeing his hobby work as a career and seeing others who have become successful doing what they love. 

    “With all of the songs I’ve been making they are getting better and I can see so much growth with each song I put out. It’s satisfying to go back and see how I have progressed. My growth lately has been way more consistent than it was in the past,” Parry said. 

    Adam McDaniel is the co-owner of Drop Of Sun Studios as well as an engineer and producer. He said he met Zander on November 13th, 2021. He said Zander contacted him for a tour of the studio and expressed excitement about wanting to work there. McDaniel said the internships offer some great things. 

    “You can learn about recording, mixing, producing, mastering, electronics, acoustic design, business, hospitality and making good coffee,” McDaniel said. 

    McDaniel said when it comes to music, he looks for inspiration in humans and human behavior. 

    Connor Murphy, 24, lives a few houses down from Parry. He started making beats and instrumental music when he was 15 as he was inspired by the soundtracks in video games. 

    “When I started I just wanted to make stuff that sounded like video game music but then I got software and got more into hip-hop and wanted to start making different types of music,” Murphy said.

    Murphy took a long drag of a menthol cigarette. The smoke outlined his face as he chattered his teeth standing in the icy night air. 

    “My favorite part of creating music is making stuff  I personally find enjoyable and making it something that is personable but still fun to listen to. I like all my percussion to be really danceable but also make you think. Like it can be played in a club but still makes your brain go over time thinking about all the different sounds,” Murphy said. 

    Murphy said he gains a lot of inspiration from his job where he works as a welder. 

    “I work as a welder and there are all these sounds I hear every day that sound almost melodic. I’m hearing loud saws and grinders clashing and welders making all these different clanking and hammering sounds on different metals,” Murphy said while chuckling. 

    Murphy said he has taught a lot of people to make beats and use software for producing. He said sometimes people are really excited at first and then lose interest or don’t have the motivation to keep learning when it gets hard. 

    “Zander impresses me because I have put Fruity Loops onto several people’s computers and most of them don’t really stick with it. Zander picked it up and just ran with it by himself,” Murphy said as he dropped the end of the cigarette, stomping it into his concrete driveway. 

    “The way he makes music really inspires me because I’m not into creating lyrics but Zanders has been doing that a lot. I really respect the hustle this man is going through. Now Zander is making videos that are cool, and he’s collaborating with other musicians too,” Murphy said. 

    Over the summer, Perry and a friend shot and produced a music video for one of Perry’s songs. His friend, Oliver Pippin, goes to UNCA and met Zander a few years back at an abandoned K-Mart. 

    This was during the early stages of Covid I believe, so there was not much to do except get outside. The local skateboarding scene had created a skate spot at the K-Mart which was really refreshing for the community. So me and Zander met through skateboarding, however, I did not know he was making music at this time. I was touched by how friendly a person he was and I knew it would not be the last time we would meet,” Pippin said. 

    Two years later Parry approached Pippin at a thrift shop, wedding chapel and bar combination called Fleetwoods. Parry asked him to help produce a music video and Pippin was thrilled to be involved. 

    “I was very excited to work with Zander because his passion was apparent from the jump, which made it easy for us to come up with a solid approach to his song. I listened to the song ‘Siphon Hands’ that he sent me and was blown away by his delivery, punchlines, and production,” Pippin said. 

    Pippin said he worked to create a storyboard for the video that matched Parry’s energy. After working on ideas they had come up with a plan which would involve night shooting and fun outfits. 

    “Zander’s sense of style really helped carry the music video with his ridiculously cool motocross pants, wool poncho, and zebra mask. One of the main challenges of the video shoot was lighting, as we were shooting a lot of the video at night. We were able to find success in using a lantern which gave us localized light and a cool aesthetic while Zander held it,” said Pippin. 

    Pippin said he enjoys music the most when it feels like the artist is speaking to him. He said although not every song does this he finds enjoyment in music while also just kicking back or driving through the mountains with his windows down. 

    My big inspiration for the Siphon Hands music video was Zander’s incredible lyrics. In other music videos, I have taken the song and built a story for the music video around the song, but in Zanders case, I wanted to highlight his words by providing visuals that matched up nicely,” Pippin said. 


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