Who Am I ?


February 2012

1: Who am I?

Zach Barocas.

2: What do you do and what project are you currently working on?

In addition to my job, I’ve currently got a few things cooking: my band, BELLS≥, is performing regularly and working on new music; another group of mine, Kill Dalton Ames (featuring J. Robbins, with whom I played in Jawbox from 1992 to 1997, and Gordon Withers, both from Office of Future Plans), will be recording a live soundtrack for a feature film directed by my BELLS≥ bandmate, Chris Ernst. The Cultural Society will be publishing four books of poetry this year, by Chuck Stebelton Sally Delehant, Shannon Tharp, and Peter O’Leary.

3: Where are you from and where are you going?

I’m originally from Rochester, New York. I lived in Silver Spring, Maryland from 1991 to 1997. I’ve also lived in Mesa, Arizona, Minneapolis, and Woodside, New York. I’ve moved to Brooklyn four times since 1997. We’re staying this time.

4: Who is your biggest hero?

My heroes are many and of more or less equal size: Kimberley Yurkiewicz, Ian MacKaye, J. Robbins, Hollis Frampton, Derrick Buisch, R.B. Kitaj, Kim Coletta, Elvin Jones, Jason Ian Moriber, Paul Biedrzycki, Jesse Pires, Christine Cody, Steve Shodin, Adam Rizer, Chris Ernst, Manu Katche, David Grubbs, Peter O’Leary, Pam Rehm, Joey Baron, Kevin McKendree, Laura McKendree, Diane Arbus, Jason Ian Moriber, Bill Barbot, Nena Johnson, Alex R. Johnson, Marshall Johnson, Ian Prince, Hayden Carruth, Brian Price, Ralph Barocas, Sue Barocas, Victor H. Barocas, Drew O’Doherty, Damon Locks, Wayne Montana, David Batista, Soung Wiser, Caspar Newbolt, Giles Copp. Matt Sundin, Chantal Akerman, Darren Zentek, et al.

If you haven’t heard of all of them, I’m not surprised. I generally don’t distinguish between the heroes of mine I know and love and those I’ve never met. They are all an inspiration, cherished counsel, crucial to anything I do. I aspire, in one way or another, to be like them.

5: What book is your bible?

Off the top of my head: David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest; Dave Hickey, Air Guitar; Hollis Frampton, Circles of Confusion; Pam Rehm, The Larger Nature; R.B. Kitaj, First Diasporist Manifesto; William Bronk, The World, the Worldless; George Oppen, Collected Poems.

6: What are some things you love? And some things you hate?


7: What is your raison d’être?

The concentration and reduction of consumerism to a corporation-dominated, value-equals-price system has not only ballooned at the expense of independent businesses themselves but also the culture they foster and fuel, a culture of communities and scenes which has, in fact, dwindled, however much it appears to flourish online. We need to be mindful of what we’re giving up when we make our financial, economic, political, and cultural choices.

What I love is people working at what’s important to them, their aesthetics, their politics, their causes, and getting together with other people to celebrate and expand their common ground. I exclude much of the political right from these activities because their systemic self-interest excludes them in the first place.

I’ve learned that I’d rather stick to my guns at whatever scale is possible than compromise myself to take part in something inflated or hyped to generate revenue for someone else in the guise of promotion, exposure, or any other chimerical promise made by corporations who don’t care about my collaborators’ and my work the way they and I do.

I assert that excellence of any kind is defined by its pursuers and is not the province of a given market but rather the result of a given practice.

The idea that everything we do or make should be monetized is anathema to me. If I need to sell books or records to make available work I believe in, my hope is that those sales will cover my production costs. But the truth is, I don’t care if they do. Running out of money would surely slow my current pace, style, and mode of production (and has in the past) but with the help of my friends and supporters, I’d figure something else out (as I have in the past).

8: What is your favorite color?

Blue, mostly.

9: Who is your favorite comic book superhero?


10: What is your favorite NYC hot spot?

Brownie’s, circa 2000.

11: What turns you on?

Intelligence, humor, confidence, grace, thoughtfulness, care.

12: What would the last question of this questionnaire be if you were the one asking?


Poet and musician Zach Barocas lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Kimberley Yurkiewicz.


Version Industries


The Cultural Society



Twitter: @zbklyn

Tumblr Page


Questions by PMc Magazine

Edited by Meaghan Coffey

Photography by Caspar Newbolt for version industries

Design by Jillian Mercado

Contact Jillian Mercado if you’re interested in becoming a “Who Am I?”


Zach Barocas Performing with BELLS≥, Bruar Falls, Brooklyn, 2011, Photography by Caspar Newbolt for version industries

read the complete article