Guitarist Max Zaska is a hard man to put in a nice, easy-to-grasp box. A brilliant guitarist and adventurous songwriter, he eschews genre convention, preferring to flit between funk and R&B, pop and soul. The result if often bright, bubbly and bouncy.
His approach to performing is similarly atypical. Zaska’s forthcoming debut album hosts something of a who’s who of Ireland’s more interesting musical fringes: BARQ, Come On Live Long, Little Green Cars, Super Silly, Loah and Wyvern Lingo all have members who have chipped in on vocals or instruments, taking roles that Max himself jokingly says he’s utterly unable to fill himself.
It’s hard to peg precisely what Zaska is, then, apart from a project led by a man who’s clearly not short on vision, or on friends (Hozier has also been a regular feature in his career). The inventive musician finds his finest moments is big, bold, diverse collaboration.
“The album title, ‘It Takes A Village’, comes from the way this album was put together, both with all the collaborations and with the FundIt [crowdfunding] campaign that’s supported it,” Zaska told the Gazette of his debut.
“I’ve been working on it since 2015, and the €14.5k people contributed to my FundIt has kept it going right up until now. I’ll just be pushing into my own finances for the first time with some of the promo stuff, so I’m so blessed. It’s been a lot of work. I almost died from exhaustion, but the support has kept me afloat.”
The result is brave and bold. Zaska’s new single is a swipe at Dublin’s increasingly prominent housing crisis. In the imagery around ‘It’s Ridiculous’, you can see the songwriter perched outside the Central Bank in a cardboard box labeled ‘two-bedroom apartment’, grimacing and clutching another piece of cardboard with the song title penned on it in marker.