RESPECT. Interview: Seattle Tastemaker Zac Levine Talks Future Events & More


Image Credit – Zac Levine

Zac Levine is an audio engineer, mixer, and producer that specializes in Hip-Hop and RnB Vocal recordings. He is an AVID certified ProTools 210 operator with 10 years Engineering and Mixing experience. He provides a comfortable recording environment for all artists he works with well creating cutting-edge vocal production and top-tier industry sound.

A few notable artists Zac has worked with are SkiMask The Slump God, Super Duper Kyle, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Nipsey Hussle, Lex Luger, Denzel Curry, and Jim Jones. Zac is also a Seattle & Tacoma tastemaker that has produced concerts and events with artists including Snoop Dogg, 2 Chainz, Waka Flocka and The Game to name a few.

He also ran Seattle local hot spot the Baltic Room for five years well simultaneously starting his own companies High-Class Studio and High-Class Concentrates. Levine recently sat down with us at RESPECT MAG. To discuss Seattle and Tacoma’s music scene along with other projects that he is currently working on.

RESPECT.: You are considered a tastemaker in Seattle and Tacoma. What are some of the events that we can expect from you in 2018?

The next event that I am working to produce is with Wake Up Presents, a Seattle based concert production company, on George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at Roseland Theater in Portland Wednesday, March 21 and the Showbox Sodo in Seattle on Saturday, March 24. Working on a few other concert bookings, I can’t speak on yet. In addition to concert production, I produce a bi-monthly party called Stayin’ Alive. I transform The Orient Express, a Chinese Restaurant in the South of Seattle housed in a series of hollowed out Train Cars, into a Discotheque with light displays, fog and bubble machines, thumping PAs a photo booth and a killer lineup of rotating Seattle DJs.

RESPECT.: How did you become involved with the entertainment scene in Seattle and Tacoma?

I started when I was 16 working for 107.7 The End, and I just started hustling by handing out event flyers. Even before this, I would go to the Kirkland teen center and the old Redmond firehouse, working on musical projects in the studio as a kid.

RESPECT.: You are the owner of High-Class Studio. Who are some of the local and worldwide artists that you are currently working with at this time?

Currently working out of the studio; PHNK is really incredible. Zelli and Sid Vicious are working on some wild music right now. Moe Black is another, and JCV is an extremely talented young artist at the age of 19. As far as local clients I tend to keep my roster small and don’t want to over saturate myself working on too many projects at the same time. International and national artists that I have worked with recently are Ski Mask The Slump God, and 24hrs.

RESPECT.: Are there any projects that you will be releasing with any of the artists mentioned in 2018?

JCV just did a banger with M16 Productions out of Atlanta. 16 is responsible for the track ‘Duffle Bag Boyz’ by Players Circle. He and JCV got down in the studio last time he was in Seattle. Zelli is currently working on her EP that I’m excited to be released. She is easily one of the flyest MCs out of Seattle.

RESPECT.: In your own words can you describe the music scene in Seattle and Tacoma?

Cold! Every artist in town wants the have the spotlight on them and are not willing to help others even if it helps themselves. The artists who are making strategic moves have a solid team around them like Raz Simone and Sam Lachow with Black Umbrella, and Nacho Picasso with Moor Gang. Macklemore has done his own thing by putting his team together, but outside of those situations, there are too many people competing against each other not working towards the common goal together.

RESPECT.: Why do you think it has been a struggle for artists from the area to make more a splash in the music industry?

I feel the number one thing that artist from Seattle and Tacoma need to do is travel outside of the state. The city is not going to put you on as an artist. If you gain recognization elsewhere, the town will then claim you. Macklemore went through a similar situation at the beginning of his career. So did Jimmy Hendrix. Shit, Jimmy didn’t really pop till he went to London!

RESPECT.: Where do you see the music scene headed in the next couple of years?

Hopefully, blooming. We have a lot of dope artists, and I feel people need to come together in a more collective manor. Support other artists when they release projects and collaborate with each other. There are a lot of talented singers, songwriters, and artists from the area and I just hope it continues to grow. I encourage all artists to travel away from the scene and share your content else. But then remember to come back to the city to help build up the town. We had Upstream Music Festival and Summit last year which featured 300 plus artists. I had the opportunity to work the event last year and had a chance to catch five minutes of a lot of artists sets. It was cool to see how much new music is out there. Gives me hope for The Town.

RESPECT.: You had the opportunity to work the Upstream Music Festival & Summit last year in Seattle. How has the annual event help brought more eyes to the Pacific Northwest?

In my opinion, this festival it did terrific as far as allowing the city of Seattle be more aware of artists that they were unfamiliar with. From a city standpoint, it was great, but I do not think anyone else in the United States gives an s*** about Upstream Music Festival. I would be very hesitant to say that Upstream Music festival brings more eyes to the Pacific Northwest. I do not think that is the case at all. I mean there has to be some awareness out of Seattle, but it is more like Seattle patting itself on the back for how good the city’s artists are as a collective.

RESPECT.: You are apparently not a part of this years event, but how would you critique the festival going forward?

That is a tough question to answer because as I said, I am all for 300 plus local artists gaining exposure, but the issue, in my opinion, is not being seen by individuals outside of the area. People in LA are not checking for Upstream lineup announcement, and neither are people that attend South By Southwest. I am aware that Revolt TV in Los Angeles is a big fan of the Seattle music scene, and there are partnership opportunities there, but like I said I do not think anyone outside of Seattle really cares about Upstream Music Festival.

RESPECT.: What is some advice you would like to share with artists in the city to get more exposure?

Get the F*** out the city! Go network in the town and then go network elsewhere. You have to tell people about your music. Invest in download cards and please do not hand me a CD. I do not own a CD player, no I do not have one in my car, and my computer doesn’t have a CD drive. Make download cards and hand that out to everybody you meet. Go network! Create great music and collaborate with other unique producers and artists.

RESPECT.: How do you feel about interns in the studio?

I have an assistant right now, but it depends on your character. I have to be familiar with your intentions before I let into sessions primarily because of the clientele. You as an individual have to know proper studio etiquette. Know when to talk and be aware of your role. Knowing your position is very important because if you are f****** around in the studio, I won’t hesitate to ask you to leave a session.




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About Landon Buford

Washington State Graduate Past Interviews include Grammy Award Winner Kenny G, David Banner, WNBA President Lisa Borders, Whats Trendings CEO Shira Lazar, Ice Cube, NBC's Chicago PD LaRoyce Hawkins, Family Matters Darius McCrary, En Vogues Maxine Jones, Team USA Track & Field Member Norris Frederick, James Kyson, WNBA Great Lauren Jackson, and more.