By Simon Berdes
photo via Rene Marban
“My music isn’t for a person who likes just a single genre — my music is for people who just want to listen to feel good music,” Zach Henderson says. Better known as oddCouple, the 27-year-old producer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin has found major progression during his time as a hip-hop producer in Chicago.
Working closely with big Chicago names like Chance the Rapper, Jamila Woods, and Jack Red, oddCouple’s success within the city’s production community skyrocketed after signing to Chicago-based indie label Closed Sessions in 2014. One of oddCouple’s bigger 2016 records has been Woods’ hit 2016 song “LSD.” “LSD” stands for Lake Shore Drive, one of the major highways the sits right by Chicago’s lakefront; the song speaks on what it means to be a true Chicagoan.The beat is sampled from the Donell Jones song “Where I Wanna Be.”
“You can’t label me as one thing — I have so many different aspects. I’m goofy, [and] I’ll talk to you about some serious shit, no problem. But I’ll also be easy going. But I’ll also turn up on you. I’m all over the place.” Those dynamic emotions are reflected in oddCouple’s beats. Each song he produces can sonically fluctuate from being extremely dark to bright. He samples different beats from several different genres, not just hip-hop. That’s very much the case from the first two songs off his mixtape Beat Tape Vol. 1. “Firefly,” for instance, is sampled from the song “Paradise” by the band ColdPlay, and “Bombay Dripping” is sampled from the rapper and producer Travis Scott.
Immersing himself in the art of beatmaking for 13 years, the inception for his passion to produce started during high school study hall. A kid came up to him during the middle of the period and told him to listen to his beats. “Yeah, his stuff was kind of wack, but the concept and idea of working with sounds seemed pretty cool,” oddCouple says. Intrigued, he downloaded FL Studio, which jumpstarted the rigorous learning process of becoming a full-time producer.
His work ethic was mirrored by his brother’s ambition, and his family’s values of working toward a higher education. “Chicago is the promised land. You go there to be those inspirations you see on TV — become the people you looked up to, like Kanye [West] or Lupe [Fiasco]… You live in Milwaukee to learn from your environment, and you go to Chicago to be that next Idol.”
“[Closed Sessions] liked my work, and I really liked the stuff they were putting out. It made it easy for me to sign with them. The people that work there are like family,” oddCouple says emphatically, “That made it feel like less of a business agreement, and more of joining community.”
oddCouple originally came to Chicago to attend DePaul University and majored in e-commerce. “Chicago might not have a ceiling, and when I got here I thought I could make it big. But when you have three million other people who have the same mentality as you do, you really have to work even harder to make it big.”
Having a plethora of connections and resources through DePaul really did help oddCouple move up in music. He’s happy with his progress he’s made since graduating from college, and the friends he’s gained along the way. Still, like any artist, he wants to see himself on a bigger platform — but he wants to do that in Chicago. The city has done a lot for him. “I didn’t know I needed Chicago until after the fact; the city found me.”