Singer, songwriter, composer and producer Zach Henderson—aka oddCouple—has collaborated with some of the industry’s biggest names, including fellow Chicagoans Chance the Rapper and Jamila Woods. As he releases his new album, Reflections, the talent sounds off on his Milwaukee upbringing, his creative process and what’s next for this star on the rise.
“My favorite venues to play in Chicago are places where I have the best memories, and the places that treat everyone with respect,” says Zach Henderson, aka oddCouple. “I think of Sleeping Village, Lincoln Hall, The Metro—just to name a few. It’s really all about providing a place where people feel safe and respected, as well as the experience.”
What led you to a career in music?
I was raised in Milwaukee. Growing up, music was like my crutch. It helped me stand up straight. I listened to it doing everything. I used it to raise my mood, or calm myself down. I never really felt like I fit in—I was either the tallest kid in class, or one of the only Black kids in class; plus, I lost my dad in seventh grade. So I felt like an outcast, but I had Outkast. I didn’t just use music as a way to fit in, but I used it to soundtrack how I was feeling. I still do. ... Once I figured out how to create, I never stopped. Damn near every day for the last 20 years.
You’re quite the multihyphenate. How do you juggle it all?
I love to create, to express myself, and I love to learn. Which is funny because I’m also stubborn and want to do everything myself. As a result, it all comes together in what I create. The different things I work on are a way for me to learn on the fly, learn through experience and express myself. ... Each song, each show, each project allows me to learn something new, which I can apply to a different aspect of my career. It— my career—is like a video game for me sometimes. I feel like my own create- a-player, and I have to keep building attributes by completing missions, or I never beat the game.
As a producer, composer and songwriter, you’ve collaborated with some incredible artists.
Collaboration is the key to my success. It’s how I create the best possible music, and it’s how I’ve found myself. When you’re making music together, you’re exchanging so much energy: your modes of expression, your processes, your visions, your space, your careers. ... I’m learning through osmosis, picking up tricks and growing along the way.
Describe your new album.
It’s called Reflections, and I have to say, this is the proudest I’ve ever been of a body of work. It’s an extremely personal and honest look at my life and how I got to this point. ... I asked myself questions: What strengthens me, what weakens me and why? The album is the truest expression of those questions and the answers.
As Reflections debuts, what’s next?
Releasing Reflections is going to be both a relief and a reset. I plan on building from it with more solo projects, but I’m also hoping it starts conversations. I want to push the conversation around music. I feel like over the past few years, the value of music for the average person isn’t as high. I want to raise that through thoughtful music, thoughtful conversations and thoughtful creation.
Photography by: Courtesy of Zach Anderson