Interview: Ziggy Alberts on Creating His Own Rulebook, New EP & More

From his 8 million streams on Spotify and an exploding social media presence, singer/songwriter and indie folk artist Ziggy Alberts has been on a roll. The Byron Bay-based musician has released two full lengths and dropped his latest EP, Four Feet in the Forest, in May of 2016.

A shining example of a TuneCore Artist, Alberts started his musical journey like so many others: in the local coffee shops and busking around town. He’s come a long way since, then, too – from touring internationally to supporting artists such as Ash Grunwald, Nick Saxon, Benjalu, San Cisco, Daniel Champagne, Dustin Thomas and Mat McHugh.

A rising Australian creative who is passionate about the ocean – from his love of surfing to his outspoken views on water conservation – Ziggy took some time to answer a few questions for us about his creative process, the new EP, and more:

You’ve only been strumming for a few years – what led to your interest in songwriting?

Ziggy Alberts: I first picked up a guitar when I graduated at 16 years old in 2011; at the time, and from about 13, I pursued freelance journalism working for surf magazines. I’d been involved in creative writing for years before I started songwriting; I saw it as a new, incredible direction of condensed storytelling. When I wasn’t so soaked in academics that creative passion just came naturally.

What were your first couple of years of performing around Byron Bay like? Were you active in the local scene?

I started busking in Byron Bay during summer 2013; at 18 years old, and coming from a fairly conservative unsupportive music scene on the sunshine coast, this was where I became immersed in a music community for the first time. It was incredible. Those ( I’d prefer to say “these”) last couple years busking day and night amongst intense national and international touring has been a huge journey of self discovery, in my songwriting and personal life. This is where my career has really grown from.

I was definitely active in the social scene, because I have been living in my van since I was 19; the streets were and are my home!  (laughs). But I was never involved in the drug taking party scene of Byron; I just lived and breathed [as a] surfer/coastal-folk musician/busker living in a van. I was too busy busting my ass playing music to be spending any time doing the social climb.

How has your coastal upbringing and love surfing impacted the way in which you write songs?

My songs are an entire reflection of my personal life, and events within that. So forth, my writing has been hugely driven by exploring my relationship with the ocean, referencing and subliminally addressing issues surrounding it. Growing up homeschooled by the beach sparked what is now a huge passion for environmental consciousness, which I can share with others through songwriting.

As a truly independent artist, how have you used TuneCore’s tools and services?

I’ve been lucky to use TuneCore as a simple way to have people access my music on  a seemingly professional level. It made it possible for people to find my music on the internet after seeing me busking on the street; it allowed people to share my music on reliable platforms with their friends, lovers and the rest of the world!

Do you have any advice for young up-and-coming indie artists who are looking to make a splash throughout Australia?

My advice as a young up and comer, to other young up and comers, is make your own f**king rulebook. Gone are the days of getting signed and making it. If you find the guidelines, can you guys let me know? Please? I’m still winging it ! (laughs)

Write your own music and become your own artist, the one you truly are, from within. Build a sustainable career suited to your personal journey. Know that nothing counts more then being an honest songwriter, and putting on an amazing live show. Nothing.

Oh, and if you think I ended up where I am by accident, be assured, I worked harder than most people are willing to consider. I’ve lived in a van since I was 19, for example, to achieve what I have. I was self managed until last year, it was a nightmare, but that’s what it took.

Last but not least – don’t accept the industry guidelines as the only way to create your career. I ignored all the rules, and making my own was and is the only reason I have any of the humbling success I have had as a songwriter today.

What are some of the main themes on Four Feet In The Forest?

This record covers themes of issues including ocean animals in captivity, the texting whilst driving epidemic in young drivers, the value of personal health, mental wellbeing, my hate for cigarettes, the necessity of clean rivers, the impact of irresponsible packaging, trust issues, relationship maintenance, the importance of becoming who we truly are meant to be, the personification and importance of our integration with mother earth, and the importance of trees plus space for intimacy. That kinda covers it! (laughs)

Tell us a bit about your plans for the remainder of 2016.

Well, [the] tour starts in 2 weeks, celebrating the release of Four Feet In The Forest – six shows and five cities. I’m really looking forward to how incredible these shows are going to be.

Then I’m going to really focus on my health and personal life for a couple months over winter, amongst shooting and releasing some music videos.

As of November, I will start my Four Feet In The Forest Summer Tour, where I’ll do heaps of all ages shows in rural and coastal communities throughout our beautiful country. Which will bring me to the end of the year and beyond into March 2017 – cutting laps around the sun, playing music and surfing, the things I love doing all year round.