About Zak Claxton

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

With over 20 years as a professional gigging musician and recording artist based in Los Angeles, Zak Claxton is an entertaining and exciting singer/songwriter performing in Second Life. Using his acoustic guitar, voice, and the occasional harmonica, Zak brings high energy to his original music, as well as occasional covers by artists ranging from the '60s to the '00s. His influences include Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, David Bowie, the Who, the Beatles, and many more.

Zak has spent over two years as one of SL's most enjoyable live music performers, and his self-titled debut solo album is due out in December 2009 on the Frothy Music label. More info available at www.zakclaxton.com.
Here below the interview I had with him.You can find it also on www.slenquirer.com.

Do you want me to use your real names?
My real name as it applies to music is Zak Claxton. I have an album coming out as Zak Claxton in December, and my web site is www.zakclaxton.com. While it started out three years ago as just my SL avatar name, Zak Claxton has now become my stage name for all of my musical endeavors. For your reference, the site Pixels & Policy recently did an article on me in this regard. More info here: http://www.pixelsandpolicy.com/pixels_and_policy/2009/10/virtual-rock-real-albums.html

Where are you from?
I have spent the majority of my life in the Los Angeles, CA area. Specifically, I live in the beach cities area of LA called the South Bay. I love it here and never plan to leave.

How long have you been playing music?
Almost my entire life. I started on piano when I was three, but then took up guitar when I was seven and fell in love with it. I've now been a guitarist for 33 years... which means I'm officially old. You do the math.

What instruments do you play?
As referenced above my main instrument is guitar, and in my SL performances, I play acoustic guitar exclusively. However, I've worked professionally in both studios and stages as a guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, and vocalist, as well as an audio engineer and music producer.

How did you discover SL?
A friend of mine called me in 2006, and was very excited that his favorite band, Duran Duran, had started a presence in SL. While I really didn't have strong feelings about Duran Duran, I did find the concept of Sl interesting. Most important to my start in SL was the fact that at the time, I was in a long-distance relationship; my ladyfriend Kat lived in Seatlle and I was here in LA, 1,000 miles south of her. We joined SL simultaneously so we could do things and feel like we were "together" more often. She has since moved to LA to be with me in reality as well as in SL. But at the time, I did not know about live music in SL. Soon after I found out about it, I started doing my own shows, in early 2007.

What has influenced you to get your to where you are today musically?
Many things. I've always loved music, and I've spent my entire life being involved in it. For the most part, I've been part of bands where I wasn't necessarily in the spotlight, and my music was being used by other people. But after all this time, I found that I had songs of my own that I wanted to get out and perform. That led to not only my experiences as a live musician in SL, but the recording of my first solo album, which is complete and will be released in December.

Do you think SL can be a valid showcase for your RL works?
I don't only think this... I know this. Even in an entertainment capitol like Los Angeles, it's very difficult to build an audience for an independent musician. Through SL, I've performed in fron of thousands of people from all over the globe. I have fans in Europe and Australia with whom I never could have connected if not for SL. Also, SL has allowed me to spend many hours fine-tuning the performance of my original songs, so that by the time I walked into the studio to record them "for real", I was completely comfortable and familiar with my own stuff... more so than I'd ever been before in a studio environment. I credit SL for being a big part of my success so far as a musician.

How would you describe your style?
Personally, I'm an easygoing guy who likes to enjoy himself, and likes to interact with and engage the audience. Musically, I'm a singer songwriter who still likes to rock, so both in my live performances and on my album, there's a pretty wide range that spans from soft, sensitive, eclectic sounds, through hard-hitting power rock. While my album uses full instrumentation of drums, bass, multiple guitars, keyboards and so on, in SL I am committed to just perform using my acoustic guitar, voice, and occasional harmonica. If I can do a great performance with those limitations, it proves that the songs I'm doing can stand on their own.

Which are the sources of your inspiration?
Certainly my ladyfriend, Kat Claxton. She inspires me all the time. But I also draw from many things in my life experiences, in fiction, in my friends' lives. Like many artists will tell you, I really don't always know where the songs come from. They seem to flow through me rather than from me. I'm just there as a conduit to write them down and then perform them. I'm never successful "trying" to write a song. The songs are either there or they aren't, and I can't force them to come out when I feel like it. They come when they feel like it.

Do you use other kind of digital promotions?
Probably all of them. I'm easily findable on Facebook, on MySpace, on Twitter, on ReverbNation and so on. As mentioned earlier, I also have my own web site at www.zakclaxton.com, where samples of my recorded work can be heard, as well as other stuff you'd expect to find on a musician's web site (lyrics, videos, and so on). With the album imminent to be released, we are also making arrangements to have my music be available through iTunes (all countries), Napster, eMusic, Amazon MP3, and others. So yes, digital promotion is very important to me.

Any thing else you would like to add?
I think it's only a matter of time before SL (and, on a more general basis, 3D Internet platforms beyond SL) will be seen as a vital aspect of any musician's career path. I consider myself fortunate that I got into SL relatively early, because if you fast forward five years, I think you'll literally have tens of thousands of musicians trying to get noticed here, and it will become more and more difficult to find the opportunities I've been lucky enough to take advantage of in SL. While I'm not a person who makes fame and/or fortune a big priority, I am taking steps to not only have my album get some attention on an international scale, but also to bring attention to the SL music scene as a whole. I often joke around that I want to be the first avatar on the cover of Rolling Stone. While I don't think that's feasible, I do think that through any recognition I get as a musician in real life, it will lend more validity to SL as a platform for other musicians like myself.