Zach Kursman Stays True to Himself on Debut, "Old Armor"

Zach Kursman Stays True to Himself on Debut, "Old Armor"

February 2, 2024 in Features

by DJ rat

A knight, (Austin artist Zach Kursman) dressed head to toe in a steel suit, (his dad's winter coat over a blue sweatshirt) picks up his weapons of choice (his Vic Firth drumsticks) ready to charge into battle (the release of his first album, old armor.)

25-year-old Kursman began the creation of old armor at the beginning of 2020, during his final phase at UT’s Butler School of Music and right before the pandemic. The therapeutic genre-bending debut takes a look at Kursman’s relationship with himself, and the nuance of letting the past go while appreciating it at the same time.

Old armor represents stripping away everything that Kursman and others wear to protect themselves from getting hurt as well as the many versions we present to the world to shelter who we truly are.

“It's all about letting it be heard. Telling these stories from my past and present,” said Kursman. “I've learned that it just takes a lot of energy and a lot of love and care to honor where I'm at right now and honor the past. I wouldn't be here without all those versions.”


Photo by Spencer O'Neal

The 11-track, 32-minute album begins with old armor theme song, an ambient track introducing us to Kursman’s punchy drums and the central thesis of his work:

“The battle is already over, the weight is off my shoulders, but why am I always fighting?”

As we walk through Kursman’s acceptance of change and the recontextualization of his past, heavy R&B, dance, electronic/glitch, and alternative make appearances throughout the project keeping the sound fresh and each idea distinct. Chameleon keyboard melodies bring a playfulness to most songs, camouflaging the pain in Kursman’s lyrics.

Kursman's pitch can change and his inflection may vary, but his dreamy delivery echoes in your head after every line. The lyrics are clear and the feeling’s hazy, like a memory of the past it’s vivid and fuzzy.

The album also benefits from an illustrious catalog of collaborators adding powerful verses, and their mastery of a multitude of instruments.

“I wouldn't be here If it wasn't for everybody on this album – that's my first statement. It wouldn't have come to completion," Kursman said.


23 (where i'm at) cover.jpg

Honoring the past is at the forefront of Kursman’s debut album, with the iconography of his younger self and lyrics discussing his childhood experiences and musical beginnings.

Kursman started playing the drums at two years old. Yes, he even has proof.

“My family had a VHS recorder camera – I didn't even know I started that long ago. I just saw a video and I'm like, Oh, shit.”

The video showcases Kursman banging pots and pans on a DIY drumkit assembled by his oldest brother. In 2008 he would move up to his first mini drum kit.

" At 4 years old I got my first mini drum kit and in 2008 around 9 years old I got my first actual full acoustic kit which was a Pearl Vision series!"

Although Kursman has been playing the drums since he was two, even going to Jazz school to continue the drums, there were many times in his life where he left the sticks behind.

“I abandoned the drums many times. – I abandoned myself many times,” said Kursman.

The process of overcoming these mental hurdles can also be attributed back to Kursman's childhood, and the principles of the martial arts classes he took. The principles he learned in these classes make up the songs on the album all deserving of an entirely uppercase spelling.

The songs COURAGE, FORGIVENESS, CONFIDENCE, PURPOSE, HONESTY, and EXPRESS all mark significant milestones in the project and stand out after multiple listens.

The last track, 23 (where I’m at) gives a glimpse into the artist approximately 50 lbs lighter. It’s a reflective and self-gratifying track in a refreshing and well-deserved manner.

However, it is unfortunately outdated in a way because Zach Kursman is now 25 years old. I asked Kursman to add some more reflection on his future, and his goals as a musician.

Kursman put it simply: “I hope that I can continue to inspire myself, heal myself, and heal others with this record.”

Make sure to follow Zach Kursman on instgram and steam old armor out now.

View this profile on Instagram

z (@zachkursman) • Instagram photos and videos

All photos thanks to KVRX's own Spencer O'Neal.

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