In the pantheon of stressful life activities, moving cross country is pretty high on the list. You have to try to find a place to live, sell your home or get out of your lease, meet all new people, and worst of all: packing. While the experience can be good fodder for writing material, making music during such a move can be a big change. This is what Zach Hurd, the face of musical project Bay Ledges, faced when he made the move from New York to Los Angeles. In the time since then, he’s adjusted nicely and created the kind of pop that’ll have you dancing along while diving deep into your feelings.
Reflecting on the experience, Hurd says “I feel like my time in New York was a learning process, I was doing more of the singer-songwriter thing and trying to focus on how to write a good song.” His heavy acoustic focus began to shift when he moved to LA, with a focus on making music that’s bigger and exploring other sounds that interested him. “When I got here is when I started to put the acoustic stuff, not away, but I wanted to actively see how I could explore other sounds,” Hurd explains. It’s from that sentiment that Bay Ledges has formed and evolved.
It was a process for Hurd, but he didn’t shy away from trying a ton of new things no matter what. “There were definitely a lot of tracks that I worked on that were not good, not releasable,” he says with a laugh. He further explains that in New York he was more focused on the traditional sense of “making it” as a musician, while in LA he instead shifted his focus to having fun and creating more things that he enjoyed, which resulted in his big single, “Safe,” and two EPs, Bay Ledges: The EP and the more recent, Fountain Tropical, which was released in August.
Hurd has long worked on his own, but that has changed more recently. He still writes all of the songs himself, but after that, more people come into the picture. His sister, Georgia, now plays a larger part, co-writing the dreamy surf-pop track “Perfect” on the new EP and lending her vocals to many of the songs. Showcasing both that partnership and how experimental he can get now, Hurd reveals that the slide guitar-esque sound on the Fountain Tropical’s opening track “Straight Jacket” is actually Georgia’s voice run through a few filters.
Throughout it all, singer-songwriter to Bay Ledges, Hurd tries to keep his writing as organic as possible, crafting songs that come naturally to him. “There are phrases when I’m starting to write. I’ll just play some chord progressions that I like and then sing what comes to mind over it,” he explains. “Sometimes a phrase comes out, and that phrase will feel really good.” He further explains that sometimes that phrase will have no particular meaning to him, but he’ll flesh out ideas from it to craft it into a full song.
Part of that organic nature comes from Hurd being at least partially an introvert, even if it isn’t always immediately evident. “It’s weird, I really love to connect with people and I do like to be around people, but I am introverted in certain ways,” he muses. “I do get easily overwhelmed by social situations sometimes.” It’s a sentiment that’s not uncommon for introverts everywhere, and you can hear parts of it captured in Hurd’s music.
Hurd is already hard at work with more new music for Bay Ledges, and even went on a short tour in September to support Fountain Tropical. With fun, infectious music that has grown with each box packed, move made, and person interacted with, Bay Ledges has a warm and sunny future.
*A version of this interview first ran in the current print issue of Substream Magazine, on stands now and available through our online store!