Young Denver Native Goes Professional
Zach Heckendorf is a Denver native, singer-songwriter and musician who writes Jack-Johnson-esq melodies over hip-hop influenced beats. At 23, he has already spent six years as a professional musician. Heckendorf signed his first professional record deal at eighteen and has played with some big names at some big venues; he has opened shows for some of his childhood heroes including Rodrigo y Gabriela, Brett Dennen, the John Butler Trio and Rogue Wave and has also performed at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, one of the most coveted venues in the country.
Heckendorf first started playing the guitar when he was in the fourth grade. He describes his dad as a casual guitar player who always had guitars laying around the house. Listening to lots of Jack Johnson and learning Johnson’s riffs on the guitar was key to Heckendorf’s development as a guitar player. He names Blink-182 and Ray Charles as other major musical influences, though Jack Johnson was his biggest influence, something that can still be heard in Heckendorf’s songwriting today.
After graduating high school, Heckendorf signed his first major record deal. After some time, however, Heckendorf left the company because he felt like his music was becoming less genuine. As for future plans, Heckendorf says that he would love to eventually write something that gets played on the radio, but his primary goal is to write music that is an honest representation of himself.
“It’s a work in progress in a lot of ways,” Heckendorf says. “I’m excited about that.” Heckendorf’s last album was produced entirely with Kickstarter money, a process he says gave him more control over his work. Heckendorf’s latest EP is called, “UP!” and is available on his website, zachheckendorf.com.
Outside of his music career, Heckendorf backpacks and camps as much as he can and is passionate about urban gardening. He is currently in the process of completing an internship with Denver Urban Gardens and eventually hopes to find a way to combine his love for the outdoors with his music career. Maybe through music festivals, maybe potlucks, maybe an art space … he sees both music and food as two of the most effective ways to bring people together.
“Community is so important,” Heckendorf explains.
Q: What music have you been listening to recently?
A: Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper.
Q: If you could only keep one album, which album would it be?
A: “Veneer,” Jose Gonzalez
Q: What’s your favorite place to play in Colorado?
A: (Laughing) Probably CU Boulder frat parties. Everyone is just so excited.