Zak Hartzell is a singer-songwriter and regular ol’ literary writer based in Columbus, Ohio. His music has been recognized by American Songwriter. His stories and poems have been anthologized or featured in Crack the Spine, Rubbertop Review, Plainsongs Poetry Magazine, and The Noise Organ.
At thirty years old, he’s held just as many jobs — including interactive narrative writer, cryogenic technician, escape room manager, and lowly farmhand on a cult compound. Currently, he writes copy part time and stays up nights working on recordings and poems in his humble little music studio downtown.
Thick harmonies and indie rock melodies blend the DIY production techniques of an Elliot Smith or early Mac Demarco with thoughtful lyrics and occasional moments of guitar bravado. Often skipping out on class (and menial day jobs) to study music theory and write lyrics in various men’s room around Ohio, music has always been on Zak’s mind and in his soul. His vocals fluctuate between the ribbony soft and the fully desperate to paint four-minute tapestries that stick.
Interested in the edges of humanity and willing to show up there himself, Zak pulls melancholic stories from a slew of bizarre real-life experiences. His work finds a space between the reckless verve of a young man and the curiosity of someone observing their own foolishness in action. The spiritual whimsy of his prose calls to mind moments from Kerouac or Corso. Coupled with a decidedly 21st century bent for digital ennui, his essays and poems continue working to carve out a space all their own.