Sleepy Zuhoski


Sleepy Zuhoski

Sleepy Zuhoski was performing his song “Asleep for A Year” at an open mic night at Sundown last year when Salim Nourallah first heard him. “A friend of mine was literally in mid-sentence & I held up my hand & said, ‘Wait a minute. Do you hear this guy? We need to stop talking & listen!’” After doing the same thing on two more occasions, Nourallah invited Zuhoski to come over to his recording studio and meet Sarah Henry, Palo Santo Records’ Grand Poobah. The Wisconsin-born indie rocker was soon in the PSR fold and making a record with Nourallah producing.
“Most of the recording I’ve done in the past was solo home recording where I played all the instruments, did all the production/engineering myself, and drowned everything in effects. This record was a very welcome break from that,” says Zuhoski. Raised by avid record collector” parents and influenced by artists such as Radiohead, Bob Dylan and Elliott Smith, Zuhoski has a wide array of influences and inspirations. Look for the full-length release later this year on Palo Santo Records.
Q&A with Sleepy Zuhoski

What was the songwriting process like?
I don’t really have a specific method for writing songs. Sometimes I write different sections years apart, sometimes I put a whole song together in 15 minutes. Sometimes I’ll write something on a piano and then figure it out on the guitar to give it a different feel. Lyrics are usually last for me. I’m not too concerned with lyrics when I’m listening to music. I’m way more interested in a good chord progression and melody, but I do take my time and try to say something interesting usually. Sometimes it’s about things that are happening in my life, sometimes it’s just a verbalization of thoughts or feelings, or and idea that I think is funny. My songs tend to have a dark sound to them because I pick up the guitar the most when I’m in a weird mood and need to distract myself.

Who collaborated with you on the album?
Salim Nourallah – Helped with song structuring, harmonies, aux percussion, a little bass, and of course he produced the record at his studio, Pleasantry Lane.
Nick – Played guitar, but most of the time you would think it’s a synth or something. I’ve never seen anyone play pedals the way he does, and I’m very happy to have worked with him on this.
Ryan – Played bass on most of the songs, and helped me with some lyrics, He’s the frontman in Straight Tequila Night, a 90’s country cover band, and we played a band previously called Sunburnt.
Alex – Played drums on several songs, sang backup and played guitar, and electronic guitar on a few songs, and helped write a few verses. He was the drummer in Sunburnt as well, and I’ve played in bands with this guy on and off for probably about 10 years. He’s one of my favorite drummers I’ve worked with because he writes songs too, and knows how support a song rather than just bang on the drums.
Chris – Drums. This guy is a great drummer. He jumped in and pretty much nailed everything right away. I hope to work with him more in the future. He was super into some of the weirder ideas I had on a few songs.
Becky – Backup vocals. Becky is a very talented singer and really took the harmonies to a new place and breathed some new life into everything she touched.

What genre is this new project?
Ultimately I’d call it an indie rock record, but there’s definitely influences like folk, dance, noise/drone, and some light psychedelia

How were you discovered by Palo Santo Records?
Believe it or not I was actually discovered playing and open mic night. My band had just broken up, and I was just looking for something to do to stay musical for the time being. After playing a few times he gave me a call, and told me Palo Santo was interested in making a record. After meeting with them, I knew we would get along great, and had a very similar vision for what we were looking to accomplish with the record.

What’s your Dallas, TX story?
I was born in Wisconsin, moved around a bit as a kid but ultimately ended up in Rowlett at age 8. I’m an honorary Texan now, and finally started saying “y’all”. I’ve lived in Old East Dallas for the past few years and love how close everything is.

How is this album unique and different from what you’ve done in the past?
Most of the recording I’ve done in the past was solo home recording where I played all the instruments, and did all the production/engineering myself and drowned everything in effects. This record was a very welcome break from that. I have always considered myself an experimental singer/songwriter, and this record is my experiment with a more straightforward sound and much more lush instrumentation.

Who are your top 5 musical influences?
Radiohead, Elliott Smith, The Notwist, Bob Dylan, Night Beats.

Tell me more
My parents were pretty avid record collectors when I was growing up. I fondly remember going to the record store with my dad and brother when I was very little. There was always music playing in the house. My dad was really into bands like Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, Talking Heads, REM, and stuff like that. It’s funny because even at age 60 he still mostly just listens to modern college rock. My mom always struck me as more of the music historian playing stuff like Billie Holiday and Scott Joplin.

Any Hobbies?
I’m a big computer nerd. I love putting Linux on old computers and trying to re-purpose outdated technologies.