“You have the power to take control of your situation,” encourages Zach Henderson. “There are powers, people, forces in this world that are designed or intent on holding you back, but the decision to succumb to or rise above those things ultimately lies with us.”
Known professionally as oddCouple, Henderson keeps his feet firmly planted, even when the world rages against him. “Whether the enemies are in our minds, or physical beings and energies in the world, we can take control of our lives and move forward,” he adds, “effectively defeating those same enemies that want to hold us back.”
With his new song “Enemies,” co-written with collaborator theMIND (real name Zarif Wilder), Henderson owns the turmoil he’s endured, excavating deep within himself, and forges a clear and triumphant path ahead. “[The song] is a mantra about the path to self-realization and the accountability and clarity it comes with─taking ownership of your life, your thoughts, your actions, and thus, the moment,” he tells American Songwriter. “We’re exploring the ‘enemies’ that we, ourselves, created in our minds, the ones we manifest with our own energy, and all of our internal struggles to battle our own self-destructive tendencies.”
“Enemies,” the follow-up to the Jamila Woods-featuring “Reflections,” is another primer to his forthcoming record, Reflections, out June 4. The smoldering, wonderfully left-of-center track encompasses many of the “trials and tribulations” he experienced during the album creation process.
“Honestly, it started to become hard to decipher what was happening to me, or what I was bringing on myself─essentially, is it that life is unfair or am I making bad choices? That thought process, that self-destructive lifestyle, took such a toll on me that I finally had to make real changes to take control of my life,” he reflects. “So, I went all in on making music that would explain that journey and process. Little did I know, theMIND was going through such a similar time in his career and life. When I reached out and told him what I saw this being about and where I was, he knew exactly where to take it. ‘Enemies’ is our tale of those moments when we looked inward, took stock, and took accountability for our futures.”
Pull the trigger / Don’t hesitate, don’t wait / ‘Cause it’s gettin’ bigger, sings Henderson, a deep emotional yearning emanating from his core. Dances with fate, I’d rather take soul redemption / Down the darkest alley, still ain’t found the valley / Now I’m staring down the barrel of my own mistakes.
As his favorite lyric, these images explore “those deep and dark bouts of self doubt, in their rawest form, exemplified as a life and death shoutout─but within ourselves,” he remarks. “That internal battle to find yourself and stay true to that can be and has been such a harrowing and silent fight. Realizing the enemies in life are really the ones we create in our heads─the I cant’s, I shoulda’s, I coulda’s, they didn’t, it’s my fault─this part of record is where we find the strength to battle those enemies by taking control of our thoughts, our decisions, our actions.”
Originally from Milwaukee, Henderson first became hooked into songwriting through “being a super fan and learning all the words to my favorite songs─literal car karaoke all day,” he remembers. His curiosity then led him to “figuring out how people made the beats,” sampling, and finally recording. “Essentially, I just became a huge fan of how music was made and the music that was made, so I just started reverse engineering stuff. Making my own beats with the same samples, ‘remixing’ and repurposing lines, recording freestyles. And next thing I know I was creating music every day in the infant stages of songwriting.”
Henderson made waves with two studio records in 2018, Liberation and Chatterbox, and his dedication to the work is admirable. Now based in Chicago, the singer, songwriter, and producer healthily mixes “introspection and inspirations” in his songwriting. “For example, I take ‘Are You That Somebody’ by Aaliyah and Timbaland, where Tim uses Aaliyah’s baby voice as a sample in the beat, and the first word is ‘baby girl.’ So, in turn, I’ll go through an experience, and it’ll stick with me. And I go back to that reference from Tim and Aaliyah, and find a sample or noise to match with the content and story behind the music. Those easter eggs create a lot of cohesion and uniqueness in the music.”