Well before a budget guitar made Zach Deputy’s fingers bleed as a teenager, he conjured up music with his mouth, lips and tongue.
As an adult and music festival staple, Deputy, who will perform Tuesday at John’s Alley Tavern in Moscow, plays guitar, has drum pads and effects pedals to augment that verbal percussion.
Deputy has spent most of his life skirting the border between Georgia and South Carolina. He was mostly raised by his grandmother, and her Calypso mixtapes have left the largest tattoo on Deputy’s musical sensibilities. Those Latin rhythms, mixed with the Motown and R&B he learned from his father, along with folk and gospel, are all part of the music Deputy creates for audiences.
“Music is a culture,” he said. “I feel like it’s my duty to pass down the culture that I was given.”
Beatboxing is a part of Deputy’s music that is all his own, and it goes back to when he could only produce a breathy “in and out” sound as a youngster, he said. It harks back to a childhood and adolescence spent in a trailer park and the contrived forest lot in the middle of the park.
“You had to go through this little bunny trail and pricker bushes and all we had was this piece of plywood,” Deputy said. “That was our hangout spot we’d hang out on a piece of plywood and beatbox.”
The bearded Deputy often begins a live show seated in a swivel chair with his guitar. A bevy of pedals by his feet and other musical gadgets hem him in. He can start a song by beatboxing, laying down a beat on his drum pad or with a guitar riff, he said.
When he stops his act, the music keeps playing – that is called a loop. For more than a decade, this mode has allowed Deputy, as a solo act, to layer and build novel compositions of what he calls “island infused drum n’ bass gospel ninja soul.”
Like his ad-libbed music, which builds on the preceding sounds, Deputy said, he has continually grown his craft so that he has become the best looper “that has ever lived.”
He has added new microphones and different guitar tones — his guitar could resound as a steel drum or a horn section — while the particular technological aspects behind looping have also evolved.
Most important is his “leaps and bounds” growth as a producer who can mix sounds live, Deputy said.
Deputy’s musical moral code draws distinctions between drum pad and drum machine and live music versus pre-recorded music. With his creations especially the pad created drum loops that are sometimes confused with samples these distinctions are essential toward understanding the artist’s improvised, truly original live shows.
“My motto is ‘Zach Deputy sample free since ‘83,’” he said.
Deputy has two albums on deck for this summer. The first is a solo effort he best describes as a “Calypso and hip hop album,” while the other is from his blues and reggae side project, Zach Deputy and the Hashtags.
Through his live loopers, Deputy always aims to bring out a groove that audiences have never felt before.
“If they want music that touches them on the inside and the outside, that’s what I do,” he said.
If You Go:
What: Zach Deputy
Where: John’s Alley Tavern, 114 E. Sixth St., Moscow
When: 9:30 p.m. Tuesday