One evening, a fellow NSLC student approached me. “Kelina has an assignment for you,” he said. “Go interview that kid Zach. He got signed or something.” Kelina, one of the Team Advisors, works in music journalism and knew I am pursuing a career in the same field. I knew Zach already because he always chilled with my roommate, Nickolaus, and I. We played many games of wall ball together. I knew he played guitar, but did not know anything aside from that.

That was all I needed to hear. It was an opportunity to get my foot in the door of music journalism. Immediately, I found Zach and told him I was interviewing him. He seemed shocked at first by my blockhead confrontation, but he realized I meant nothing by the way I went about it. We went to his room; I had never actually stepped inside there, but it was unkempt and smelled of boy. He apologized for his roommate’s clutter, and we began.

Where do you reside regularly and how old are you?
Drums, Pennsylvania and I am 17.

How did you get discovered?
I have a few YouTube videos. My most viewed song is “Butterflies.” This guy from a new record label called Death Row Studios contacted me saying they were looking for breakthrough talent. I haven’t signed anything yet; it is all up in smoke right now. My father and I are going to set up an appointment when I return.

Since “Butterflies” is your biggest hit, how many views did you have?
Around 270,000 hits, but at my dad’s office I put a stack of CD’s out for sale so I will see how many are gone when I get home.

Who was “Butterflies” written for?
My first love, Christin. We were together for about two years then she moved to Bethlehem, PA. We tried working it out for a while. It was rocky; then, for some reason, her mom flipped her lid and sent her to live with her grandma, which was even further away . . . But the way she acted that last time I talked to her, it made me think that nothing she said was true.

Who are your music influences?
Secondhand Serenade, Goot, Gorilla Zoe, Yellowcard, Cute is What We Aim For, Dangerous Summer, The Spill Canvas and Romance on a Rocket Ship. Oh yeah, I met the guy from Romance on a Rocket Ship a few times, kinda weird dude.

How did you get into music?
My parents forced me to play the violin, saying it would be good for me. I wish they would have forced guitar on me instead. (Laughs)

What is your earliest memory of music?
I was maybe 5. I was in my sister’s room with my grandpa and he was letting me pluck the strings of her violin that was before he died, though.

Do you play shows? If so, where?
I normally play shows in these little restaurants. I played this one show at an Irish pub and had to stop early because there was a brawl. Another place I normally play at is the clubhouse of this housing development near my home. There is also a park near the clubhouse where I usually go to chill out and think. I recently played a show in Washington, D.C.

What was the difference from playing that show in D.C. and back home?
I was pretty nervous, but the crowd seemed more inviting.

All right, one last question before you start playing: What kind of guitar do you play?
I own this beautiful Schecter with mother of pearl on the frets. The only problem was the recordings I did with it turned out horrible. So one year, I asked for an acoustic. My parents took me out to look for one, and I found this Taylor acoustic that held a beautiful full tone. My parents said the only way I could get it is if I pulled my grades up, which I knew was impossible. So I gave up. Then one day, my mom told me to look in her trunk and there it was! I have recorded a good bit with it; I like the sound it gives out.

Finally, I get to hear what Zach’s capable of. He pulls out the Taylor acoustic that he has been telling me about, sighs softly, stiffens his back and begins playing “Butterflies.” The intro has a slight blues four/four beat to it that is both solemn and joyful. This type of intro feels reserved, like the artist is holding back something that is waiting to be understood. It was a fuzzy little tune that seemed to radiate sunshine with each chord. “Butterflies” is a contemporary rock ballad about love with a sting of harmonic blues.

As he played, I could not resist the urge to smile. You could feel the energy pouring out of him. He plays from the heart. A few parts in the chorus his vocals broke into staccato repetition that gave the song more of a groove feel.

The second song he played was a cover of Usher’s “OMG.” The original being a pop/dance song, would prove to be a great transition. On every downbeat, I could hear his foot thump in tempo with his playing. He made use of the decrescendo section of the song by softening his voice to match his instrument’s tone. It is a rather interesting variation of the song, not quite as danceable but a good little tune to play on a bad day to change your mood around.

The third and last song Zach played was a freestyle jam he had made up on the spot. I am a huge fan of improvisation. Zach played this song with unrelenting easiness, which surprised me. This song was the most intricate of three songs, with heavy lows, stinging pitches and a breakdown that was handled with snapping precision. This song felt enlightening. I had the urge to break my masculinity and give someone a hug.

His singing is that of a warm, full whisper that resonates between his acoustic strumming. He showed no signs that he even remembered I was in the room. Zach played this song to its fullness. He left no room for fillers or for over-extensions that ruin most acoustic songs. It was like giving your love one last kiss. As your love is about to speak, you leave. Knowing they aren’t fully satisfied until they can say whatever it is they needed to say. Making your love feel so happy, yet utterly craving for more.

Zach Perlmutter looked up from his Taylor acoustic and sighed heavily. “I think have enough for my story,” I said. His eyes held a look of understanding something that was beyond words and obviously beyond my realm of comprehension. He was about to say something when his roommate flung the door open and entered the room. The roommate seemed a little upset I was sitting at his desk. I figured this would be the right time to leave, but before I left Zach mentioned his YouTube account name, P3arled, to see any of his videos.

Zach did an excellent job portraying his musical stance, even under such short notice. I have to give him a great amount of respect for his ability to perform so well under conditions in which he had no time to properly prepare, or warm up for that matter. I expect great things from Zach and plan to stay in contact with him to see if he had gone through with the appointment at the record label.

—Nathan T., Denham Springs, LA

To contact the writer, e-mail Nathan at