Zach Broocke ’01 knows that when it comes to making a living in the music business, diversification is key. His songs have been featured in a range of settings from a Morgan Freeman movie to Ultimate Fighting Championship commercials to surfing documentaries. Broocke has also produced projects for up and coming artists, and cowritten with some of the biggest names in the industry. He has toured the country as a solo musician, and is currently embarking on a fifth tour with his critically acclaimed duo, Slings & Arrows.
“I honestly don’t know what I would do if I weren’t a musician,” he admits. It’s that mindset that has guided the Milwaukee, WI, native throughout his career. Broocke has always been willing to go where the music takes him, or to “follow the love” as he puts it.
Broocke moved to Nashville without ever having visited the city. On the advice of Berklee songwriting professors Pat Pattison and Jon Aldrich, he took a chance and left school for Music City. That began what Broocke now describes as his “jaded love affair” with Nashville.
He got nowhere for about a year, but then found his niche after seeing artists such as Mindy Smith playing at the old 12th & Porter club.
“That was where I finally got to hear other writers who did what I wanted to do,” he recalls. He begged his way to a Monday night slot and started putting a band together. Just as things were starting to click in Nashville, doors also began opening in the West. Some of his band mates had decided to make the move to Los Angeles. The chance to make a record lured Broocke to follow in 2005. Just as it was when he moved to Nashville, Broocke had never seen Los Angeles before he got there. He was just following the love.
In the city of angels, he began collaborating with such writers as David Hodges and Mike Busbee—now two of the top writers in Nashville. He was also introduced to the idea of music placement in Los Angeles, thanks to an unlikely source: Myspace. A rep from music-placement giant Lakeshore Records came across Broocke’s music. That led to multiple song placements and opportunities to write for film and TV projects. One of Broocke’s songs has been licensed numerous times. “It’s like a slot machine that keeps paying out,” he jokes.
Music brought Broocke back to Nashville in 2009. In 2012 he signed a record deal and began touring after the release of a new album. He credits touring with allowing him to forge lasting working relationships and experience the immense talent that exists outside of the Nashville bubble from which some aspiring songwriters find hard to break free.
One collaboration in particular accidentally triggered Broocke’s latest project. He began playing shows with an artist named Marlaina Youch. The two performed as solo artists and then backing each other up. Soon audience members began asking them for CDs featuring both of them. A few writing appointments and studio sessions later, and their duo Slings & Arrows was born. They quickly garnered attention from local radio powerhouse, Lightning 100 FM, where their single “That Was Me Then” has entered heavy rotation.
Broocke never would have imagined all of the ways his music has gotten out into the world. “It’s something you don’t often see or think about when you are in the grind every day.” There’s little doubt that following the love is working for Broocke.