Zach Tabori is a vision in orange.
“It’s my favourite colour,” he says, Zooming from his home in Los Angeles while wearing an orange robe, in front of an orange wall. His DIY home recording set-up is called The Orange Wonderland, and his press shots have him decked out in the colour, looking like a groovy boho yogi. His entire band get Tango’d too.
Orange is the perfect hue for the half-Turkish 26-year-old guitarist; energetic, magical and a little in-your-face, not unlike Tabori’s eclectic and attention-grabbing musical style, best sampled via his latest record, Soft Boiled. Fans of Frank Zappa should rejoice, as Tabori names him his favourite guitarist: “I’ve been influenced by him for so many years. He has such a compositional mind beyond the notes... I’m talking about lyrics, and emotional states of feeling.”
If you like Steely Dan, The Beatles, 10cc, Todd Rundgren, King Crimson and Queen, you’ll be in some sort of prog and classic rock nirvana. “Anyone who takes a chord and does something different with it, I’m interested,” he says.
Tabori’s musical journey started very early. He was playing guitar at age 10, and by 11 was in his first industry job making coffee for clients at a jingle production house. One day, a composer realised that Tabori could play a variety of instruments, and soon he was adding bass lines and drum parts to various projects. He soon became known around LA as a session player, arranger, producer... and he happily admits he’ll do anything to create music. “Zappa put it best,” he says: “Anything, at any time, for any particular purpose at all.”
In this spirit, Tabori dazzles with his multi-instrumental and multi-genre lexicon that can run from boggling fusion fun such as Entideologue to the Danny Elfman-like Contrapuntal Runt, with “prog-punk trilogy” No Disgrace, Unchecked Desire and CLAO in between. Some songs hark back to his pre-teen recordings, and his Anatolian roots come through with the use of saz (a kind of lute) at the end of CLAO. His latest single, Sweet Baby Angel, is a funky AOR singalong. And here’s where the secret to Tabori’s success lies: a knack for a decent pop hook. “All my songs have pop choruses!” he says. “Of course, there’s fifteen more minutes of music after that... [laughs].”
Those hooks are in demand from contemporary young bucks such as Will Smith’s son, Jaden, whom Tabori found himself working with in 2019, supplying “around thirty songs” after Smith Jr told him he’d got into Bad Brains. Tabori switched into punk mode, and the result was the hip-hop-punk track Fire Dept.
“I’m constantly working with people to try and see how much music I can make,” he says. “I’m doing whatever I need to get the sounds out of my head.”
Soft-Boiled is out now via Flesh Fury (opens in new tab).