Zorch seems to have stumbled upon some sort of five-step model for Internet notoriety: buzz, bartering, worrying, depression, and acceptance.
The Austin-based electronic duo has garnered some buzz through a series of YouTube videos songs aimed at influential music critics, most notably Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber, Twitter-based critic Christopher Weingarten (@1000TimesYes), and NPR’s Robin Hilton.
Composed of former Berklee College of Music roommates Zac Traeger and Sam Chown, Zorch is no stranger to offbeat promotion strategies that scratch the left brain. The two operated Jingle Junkies Productions, a short-lived ad agency that created—but failed to sell—themed jingles for Austin businesses. They made their debut EP from 2008 available for free download, and included the song broken down into parts so that fans could create their own remixes.
The critics campaign actually started on a much smaller scale two years ago, when the two band members were still struggling to land gigs in Austin.
The group made audio clips directed at the local booking agents behind the city’s two most prominent clubs, Emo’s and the Mohawk, as well as the programming director for a student radio station. The videos started rolling out last year to impress renowned indie party host Todd P.
“I feel like all bands are after the same sort of thing,” Chown said. “So why not just be overt about it and make a jingle and make an ass of yourself while doing it.
“It was a total experiment in social media and promotion,” added Traeger.
Not all of the responses to the most recent push have been positive, though. The Chicago Reader ran a disclaimer with its blog coverage—"(Disclosure: I think the band is terrible)"—while one subject apparently called the campaign “creepy” and “fucked up.” (The video has since been removed.)
“Some people checked out our silly songs for critics but then they dismissed us without getting to know what Zorch was really about,” said Chown. “They assume that’s what our entire spiel but that’s just one little microcosm of this world that we’re trying to create, the silly side of our personality."
“At a certain point, I started worrying like, ‘Oh my God, are we going to be this band that’s only remembered for this?” Chown added. “What have we done?’”
Thankfully, Zorch offers far more than just jingles. The group’s new digital single, “Cosmic Gloss” b/w “E.M.F.” is a woozy composite of microblog genres – neo-gaze, electro-prog, glitch-pop, and chillwave – that should be the feel good hit of the summer. Traeger sees that silver lining.
“We’ve always approached things creatively,” he said. “I think in an environment where you get access to everything right away and everyone gets the same press email and spiel all the time, you have to do something personalized. You have to make every experience as unique as possible.”