New York singer-songwriter and producer Two Feet, born Zachary William “Bill” Dess, is headlining in Spokane for the first time Saturday night at Knitting Factory, and, to get his feet wet in the Lilac City, the 28-year-old music artist answered questions Monday morning over the phone:
Taking a look at your tour, you’re going all over the place with quite a few days off between shows. What’s bringing you to Spokane from the East Coast, and what have you been up to between show dates?
We’ve been doing kind of an interesting run here. This tour wasn’t set up at all three months ago, and then suddenly I just had the urge to play some cities that we’ve never played. So, we did it really quick, and several of the shows have sold out. Spokane’s about to sell out, and I’ve never played there. Doing 1,400 tickets in Spokane, you know, a place I’ve never played, feels pretty good. So, we’ve been heading to stuff kind of like a weekend-warrior-type run.
Has it been a little nostalgic going back to the weekend warrior gigging days, especially after playing long tours and major festivals like Lollapalooza?
It’s funny you brought that up because all the crew guys were like, “This is just like touring when we were young.” It is nostalgic, especially because – and I haven’t announced this yet – we have a big, big fall tour, like seven weeks long, coming up. We’ve got two buses, a big crew and a bunch of production for 3,000 to 4,000 cap rooms. But on this tour, we had a few shows close by, like the one in Baltimore that I drove to in my car.
Yeah, that’s a big shift between those two mindsets for sure. So, you were saying this is your first time in Spokane. Describe your sound to folks who haven’t heard you before.
I’m one of those artists where you say, “You know Two Feet?” and the person says, “No,” and then you play them something like “I Feel Like I’m Drowning,” and they’re like “Oh yeah, I know that song.” A lot more people know the music than they know my name or what I look like.
I would listen to my Spotify top five, and maybe you’ll hear something you’ve heard before. The live show is a lot rockier than the recorded music. There’s a lot more guitar and a live drummer. The record is like R&B, alt rock and electronic music. You kind of get everything in one.
How did you come upon that style? I know you have a background in jazz, and you’ve toured with Panic! At the Disco, so you’re not a stranger to diversity. How do you make it all coalesce?
A lot of it can be tuned up to the fact that I grew up in New York. I grew up in an extremely diverse area where you kind of heard everything. My dad always had interesting friends and always took me to interesting shows. And my family lives and breathes music.
My dad pretty much raised me by himself. He was a cab driver for a while. He raised four kids, but he always loved music and just took me to basically everything. We went to a crazy rave in a warehouse in Brooklyn when I was 14.
And we would go to jazz shows all the time at the Cotton Club or other places in the Lower East Side. When I started trying to make music and started guitar, I could play pretty much anything. I’d fill in for punk bands. I’d fill in at jazz, whatever, so, I just kind of would write songs in every style.
That makes a lot of sense. A lot of your press really emphasizes that eclectic nature of your music and your lack of traditional pop elements. Why do you think your music translates so well into the mainstream without being pop as such?
I kind of wonder that myself. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I try to keep my stuff in a pretty rigid form. And I use popular production techniques, so I do all the same things the pop guys do. I like to use sub-bass a lot. I’ll use popular drum kits … sounds that people might be familiar with, but I use it in a totally different way.
So, your latest album, “Shape and Form,” was released on May 13. How has it been received so far? What’s new on this record in terms of your growth as an artist, and what’s been left behind?
On Spotify alone, it already has 40 million whole streams. So, it’s performing extremely well. I feel super lucky about that. It’s doing considerably better than my last album, so that’s always a great thing.
In terms of how it’s different, this album, I wrote most of it in my home studio. I’m a self-taught producer, so it took me a long time to figure everything out. I wrote it in more like a jammy way, where instead of sitting and really thinking about every element, I would throw on a drum loop and come up with parts live.
That sounds really freeing, actually. To wrap up, did you have any last thoughts for the readers at home?
I’ve never played in Spokane, and I am super excited. I’m honestly kind of surprised at how fast tickets are moving. I’ve been getting a bunch of messages about the show. I’m really excited. I think it’s going to be super hype and a lot of fun. Get your tickets now because it’ll definitely be sold out within the next couple of days!
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