At Home With… Spencer Zahn

Art & Culture

In this feature, we ask an artist to bring us "through the keyhole" of their personal living space and let us know what it’s like at "chez artist"…

This time we are joined by Spencer Zahn, a Brooklyn based musician who is set to release his debut solo LP this week on Double Denim Records. As a frequent collaborator and precise instrumentalist he has travelled far and wide in various capacities. However, most recently he has decided to channel his creativity into the production of his own music. 

We wanted to find out a little bit more about the man himself, an intriguing musician with a promising feature… He shows us around…

Share with us your favourite recipe. What is the go to meal/ or perfect romantic fine-dining experience for yourselves? How did this recipe come about and any tips for our readers?

Recently I had a dinner party with my bandmate, Jacob, and we made Pad Kra Pao which is Holy-Basil and pork stir-fry with jasmine rice and a Thai-fried egg. He and I went to Thailand last year while on tour and got inspired by an amazing chef that has a street food spot in Bangkok. A lot of the ingredients in Pad Kra Pao can be found around where I live or in Chinatown so its not too much of an ordeal to make a delicious, spicy, Thai meal.  

What’s your favourite room in your home and why?

My living room is my favorite space in my apartment. It’s spacious, has nice decor, and all of my records. I can spend an afternoon here listening to music and getting inspiration to work on my own music.

What’s in your fridge right now? How often do you clean it?

I have a small amount of vegetables and fruits in the refrigerator, like arugula, tomatoes, zucchini, avocado, clementines, apples. I also make sure to have eggs, a couple different types of cheese, yogurt, and bread. I can usually put something together with those ingredients for most meals.  At the beginning of the week I’ll cook fish or chicken to add a bit to lunch with some greens. I like to have food that’s pretty easy to make a meal out of, since I work from home I don’t want to get too caught up with cooking during the day. 

How would you describe the decor in your home? 

My apartment has a minimal Scandinavian feeling. I like to have my space open and decluttered since I spend a lot of time writing and recording from home. It helps keep my mind on music. 

Are you handy at DIY or do you get someone in?

I don’t consider myself handy but I am proud to say I installed all the dimmers and ceiling lights in my apartment. That’s about the extent of my craftsmanship at home. 

What do you eat for breakfast?

I make coffee first thing every morning. It’s a relaxing routine for me that gets my day started. Once the coffee is ready I’ll have granola and yogurt, toast with peanut butter, or a piece of fruit. 

Do you have a nutri-bullet? Have you ever used it? If so, any health boosting juices you would recommend?

I do have one, yet rarely use it. When I use it, it’s to make pesto or a sauce for dinner.

Who is your neighbour? What do they do? If you’ve not talked to them… maybe now would be a good opportunity to. 

I have a few neighbors on my floor and the one I talk to most is Mya. She and I stop and chat when we run into each other. She works at a movie theater in Manhattan. One night she saw me carrying all my gear into my apartment after a long tour and brought dinner over that she had made with her family. She’s super nice and also a great cook! 

Have you ever locked yourself out? What did you do?

Luckily, I can’t say that I have!

Bath or shower?

Shower. I have a window in my shower so once in a while I’ll take a leisurely, bath-length shower and open the window when the afternoon light is coming in.

Has your neighbour ever seen you naked, accidentally or on purpose?

Nearly all the windows in my apartment look out onto a small backyard and a parking lot so the only time there are people out there is when someone is going home from work. So I doubt it, but its Brooklyn, so it wouldn’t surprise me if its happened.

It’s a lazy evening, no time for cooking. What’s your takeaway option? Who do you use? Do they know you and expect the usual order from you?

De Hot Pot is the best place within a few blocks of my apartment. It’s delicious, Trinidadian food. I usually get chicken roti or doubles. Doubles are great for a small snack, I suggest trying them if you’re around the area!

Do you eat your dinner at the table or on your lap? 

When I have friends over or my roommate is home I eat at the dining table. If I’m home alone, I’ll eat dinner on the couch and listen to music or watch a movie.

Do you have a local shop or are you a supermarket whore like the rest of us?

There is a great local shop called O&J Fruit Corp. which is a pescatarian market that I go to for all the basics. I love it because the people that run it are nice, they know everyone in the neighborhood, and the prices are better than any of the newer, fancy grocery shops. 

Is there a piece of art or ornament that holds particularly fond memories for you, from childhood or travels perhaps?

I grew up going to Florida with my family when I was a kid where my parents had a condo for a long time. When they sold it I took a decoy toucan and tropical fish with me that decorated the condo. These are the two pieces in my apartment that are most important to me. Also I love tropical places so it brings a bit of that vibe to my apartment.

Animals. We love cats here at R$N, but just love people with pets. Is there a special furry/ feathered/ scaly creature in your life, tell us a little about them?

I don’t have any pets but I met a koala recently in Australia and koalas are the cutest. So I’m considering visa options to have a koala in NY. 

Are you a messy person? What’s the worst state your home has been left in after a party? 

I like to keep my space clean so I maintain it to a level that makes me feel comfortable. The worst state it’s in is usually right before or after a tour since I know I won’t be home for a while. I have a few neighbors so I rarely host parties at home. 

What’s your most annoying habit as a room mate if indeed you do have a room mate?

The most annoying thing I do is work on music all day which might sound nice, but realistically it’s listening to the same thing over and over a million times and playing or writing a part for hours. I can imagine that is really annoying for my roommate. 

What’s the worst room-mate you’ve ever had?

There was a roommate I had for a bit that was from a smaller city and got a bit nervous in Brooklyn at night so he would carry a knife around with him. That freaked me out and I started locking my bedroom door at night until he moved out. 

Is there a view from your window, balcony, front door, terrace? Can you share that with us? Who do you look for coming along the street?

I live on Brooklyn’s biggest park, Prospect Park, so when I walk out the front door of my building I’m right on the park. This is really important to me to have a green space near where I live. 

Pick 6 dinner party guests from history, real or fictional to invite to your home? 

This is a tough one, there are so many options! Since it’s nearly impossible to choose, I’ve decided to put together a list of some of my favorite musicians that either played together or knew each other during their careers. I think this would make for an interesting dinner party, to have them all talking about music, art, life, philosophy, etc. With that in mind the list would be:
Charlie Haden
Ornette Coleman
Jaco Pastorius 
Alice Coltrane
Scott LaFaro
Miles Davis

Do you know the name of your postman?

I don’t, but she always says hello so I should find out! 

Where do you listen to music in the home and what’s the set up? 

I listen to music in my living room. I have my dad’s Bang & Olufsen turntable which I play through a Technics receiver. I have been collecting records since high school so I have quite a big collection. When I’m home I listen to vinyl and leave the streaming services for when I’m on the train or traveling. 

What would you change about your home?

Turning the second bedroom in my apartment into a proper home studio would be great. That’s the plan for 2019. 

Buy the new album HERE