There’s an almost tangible magic surrounding two people in love, and when that beautiful, romantic energy comes together with music the result can be stunning. Zach Galanis and Bridget Schack have been creating captivating songs as a couple for years and are now looking forward to tying the knot later this year. As a duet they are relatively new to the scene but have been performing together for years. Bridget’s exquisite vocals and Zach’s musical expertise layer together to create folksy melodies that are hard to match. They perform all around Los Angeles and along the West Coast, seeking out the most intimate venues – including people’s homes! – to stay true to the rustic nature of their music. I had the pleasure of sitting down with the couple to chat about their journey as a couple making music together and what their future will hold.
Audiofemme: Where’d you meet?
Zach Galanis: We met at Azusa Pacific. I had come out to go to graduate school in music and seminary and she was finishing her undergrad in vocal performance. Literally the first day I was out here I met her singing in choir. Pretty much everyone we do music with I met that day. It was a big day.
Bridget Schack: A big day in the life of Zach Galanis. How long ago was that?
Z: That was 6 years ago.
B: It was the fall of 2007.
Z: Holy shit, it’s been 7 years? It’s been almost a decade, oh my god.
B: For sure it’s been 7 years, it’s August.
Z: We’ve been doing this for 7 years? You’re supposed to be professional at something after you do it for 10. Are we going to be that way in 3?
AF: When did you first realize that you should play together?
Z: I had come out here and I was studying seminary which fell to the wayside big time just because I just became a lot less certain on what I believe religiously.
B: The masters degree that you were pursuing was half theology and half music worship. It was this new program that they had developed.
Z: I think that a lot of my writing had been influenced by theology so in my mind it was a safe way to come to California, to study theology in music. We had met and first started doing music together because I was playing coffee shop gigs. They had practice rooms at the school we went to and I was basically asking people if they wanted to come and play these shows.
B: You started doing music with Amy the violist first so it was just the 2 of them, and we were just friends. I had a crush on him so I was trying to feel it out but he was very focused on music so we were just friends. Him and Amy would do music together and I would go see their shows and stuff. I was the one who pursued him to sing with him. I went up to him and said ‘I want to sing with you and I’m really great at harmony. So I’m gonna sing with you.’
Z: In choir she was one of the best singers, if not the best, and I could hardly hit pitches. So I was really surprised she wanted to sing with us. Eventually I found out she didn’t really care – at first she just wanted to get in my pants!
AF: You started off playing with a full band. How long ago did you split with them and what was behind that decision?
Z: We did the last album with the band and the drummer we were working with had a lot of success, that was in 2012. It just wasn’t jiving and we got a much better response when it was just the two of us. We had been having a lot of problems trying to keep the band together so we thought, why don’t we just do us?
B: Logistically it just made sense – easier to practice and schedule and play shows. Sometimes we would have shows that could be booked but if one of five of us couldn’t make it then we’d have to forfeit the spot.
Z: And we were using guys that were really good so they were busy. It’d always be such a thing to get a show together. Which is why bands that grow up together or that can pay musicians usually do well.
AF: What is your song writing process like?
Z: That’s sort of been my wheelhouse at this point. I’m always trying to figure out a better way. Recently I just heard Tom Waits say, that was of course genius… something like, “Waiting for a good song is like hunting – for the better song, you have to wait and be more patient and quiet.” Sometimes I feel like we have to do a voodoo dance because no song comes the same way twice. I try to write every day. I try to read a lot of the lyrics of bands that I’m really inspired by. In the beginning I would sort of form and fashion the skeleton of a song and bring it to the band, then we’d work on it and put body to the ideas. With the new process as we’ve been doing more of these new songs, because it’s a duet, and it’s not just my name, I feel like she should be in the beginning process of writing.
B: We’re transitioning into that.
Z: We’re trying to figure out our process, how we sit down and come up with ideas and stuff. Inspirationally though, most of our stories come from people we’ve met, events and each other and up until now most of the song content has been about other people. It’s easier to write about someone else’s problem and project it onto ourselves but this newer stuff seems to be more personal. It’s the two of us, which is weird. That wasn’t overt, it just sort of happened.
AF: Do you think turning your music inward more has caused your sound to improve?
Z: Yeah for sure! I don’t feel like I’ve been a musician that could be agile to do a lot of different things. I sort of have to deal with what I have – my voice in some ways is limited. Sometimes I’m not a fan, at first, of the music that comes out of me so I look to other people to sort of carve it out to make it what I want. But I feel like you need to write what comes out of you or else it’s insincere and people can feel that.
B: I would say you’ve always been an honest, sincere writer but your first stuff was a little bit more removed. You would tell stories that were more universal truths and not super personal. But with this new stuff coming out, I think emotionally for Zach, to be able to connect more and be a bit more honest and vulnerable in performance has been helpful for both of us.
Z: Traditionally it’s always been that I was the writer and she’s been the performer so we’re melding into each other’s world, I guess.
AF: What’s your best music-related memory?
Z: Performance-wise was playing at the state fair with my punk rock band, that was amazing. We were playing next to the world’s largest pig. I was wearing a hoodie.
B: So it doesn’t include me? How sad.
Z: I feel like our best is yet to come.
B: We’ve had more moments in our performances, it’s hard to say there was a whole performance that was just epic.
Z: Actually there was that one performance in Salt Lake.
B: Which one, Suzie’s? Yeah I would say that was our first taste – we did this home show out in Salt Lake City for this group Up For Anything and we had no idea what to expect. It was one of our first home shows.
Z: And we did it in Salt Lake, where I’m from. We showed up to this place and there were 75, 80 people there. I didn’t know any of them.
B: And that was this first time we had a taste of what this could be. We were in our element in this intimate house concert for 80 people we don’t know which had a lot of potential to grow. That was exciting.
Z: That was a great moment.
B: That was the first thing with the duet, like, ‘Oh this could work.’ We had been trying to do the full band thing for a long time. That was the first taste of Zach + Bridget being a good thing to go for.
AF: What are the dynamics of practicing and performing as a couple?
Z: I think it’s amazing, then it’s hard as fuck. I’ve been in bands with guys and there’s like an ego that everyone has and I think music brings [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][it] out more. Then on top of that we have this relationship and then as well like, for whatever reason, we’ve decided to try and make a career out of this so there’s the business too. So you’re doing all three of those things in the same.
AF: You’re kind of taking your work home with you.
B: Oh absolutely.
Z: Even within music you have to decide that you’re not going to worry about music and business and focus on making something beautiful. I think, too, being able to shut both of those off when you want to be a couple. It’s tough. I think we’re both still figuring that out.
B: It’s an ongoing process. But at the same time being able to do what we love together is pretty special. There’s not a lot of couples that get to pursue that together so when we go on tours or play shows we have each other. We’re not alone.
Z: It’s not like we’re leaving for months on end. I think some of our favorite bands have the family component to it. Arcade Fire has husband and wife.
B: It helps to stick together when it’s not so great and that happens with us a lot. One of us will get a little bit down and the other one will bring us back up and it switches.
Z: There’s this communication that can go unspoken. During performances I can kind of look at her and know what the look means. Sometimes it’s not such a good message but I can get it.
B: And then people just think we’re in love so, we can make faces at each other like ‘ I can’t believe you just messed up’ but people think I’m making googly eyes at him.
AF: So y’all are getting married! Congrats! Are you staying in California?
B: For now we’re going to stay.
Z: We dream about leaving this place sometimes but…
B: We don’t feel like we’re stuck here. We feel like we should be here for now and we have a community here and we’re working and playing a lot. There’s music everywhere here. We’ve talked about moving to Salt Lake City, but where would we play? And how would we make money doing that? I think for now we’re going stay. We’ll go with the flow.
Z: Yeah, it’s weird. I would have never said this five years ago, but I love LA. It took me five years, but it takes living here to love it. What you perceive of LA visiting is way different then what it actually is. I miss my family a lot but it’d be hard to do what we’re doing right now anywhere else.
AF: Any musical children coming our way?
B: Ha, I hope not.
Z: Not for a while.
B: Getting married and having a family is something that we see in the future and would enjoy but right now we wouldn’t be able to support a family.
Z: We don’t want to just birth feral children into the world. Because from us, they could be pretty bad. So we’re going to wait so we can support them.
AF: What are your next steps?
B: I think our next big plan is to record a new album with just the two of us. We’ve done two full-length studio albums with the full band under the name Galanis and the full-band kind of mindset.
Z: They were more of a solo project for me with Bridget coming in as an artist working on some of it.
B: Now were looking to do our debut as Zach + Bridget. Not necessarily just the two of us – we’ll have guests come in – but the focus will be on the duet. So that’s the next big thing we want to do. Just to play and make money while we are doing it so we can financially support ourselves.
Zach + Bridget are still figuring out when their debut album will be recorded and released, but in the meantime they’ve been working on a series of live music videos, and we’re pleased to premiere one of them below! Give it a watch and feel the love.