What's In Your Fridge: Zach Kleisinger

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      What’s In Your Fridge is where the Straight asks interesting Vancouverites about their life-changing concerts, favourite albums, and, most importantly, what’s sitting beside the Heinz ketchup in their custom-made Big Chill Retropolitan 20.6-cubic-foot refrigerators.

      On the grill

      Zach Kleisinger

      Who are you

      I was born and raised in beautiful Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and moved to Vancouver in 2015 when I was 18. My passions are literature, history, and music. I also love woodworking, leather-making, and cooking. I was gifted a guitar when I was nine and never really set it down. I am grateful for having a youthful indifference towards the capitalistic machine, which gave me the courage to pursue music as a means of sustaining myself, and I am now thankful for my stubbornness, which has kept me from abandoning this pursuit.

      First concert

      My first concert was Billy Talent in 2007 at the Credit Union Center in Saskatoon. My older brother and I went with our best friend from the neighbourhood, having left on a frigid day in January. My friend’s mom drove us, and, due to our age, attended the concert as well. I know for sure BT was not to her taste, and it is not beyond the realms of possibility to assume she didn’t exactly enjoy the show. But! Blessed be the moms suffering through rock concerts for the sake of their children’s enjoyment. As for the show, I remember where we sat, and that Rise Against was an opener. The memory sticks with me because of the lady sitting in front of us. During their set, perhaps after each song, she would yell the band’s name in a thunderous staccato—each syllable seeming to reach the band from our side of the stadium. This was possibly the moment my friend’s mom became aware of how her night was to unfold.

      Life-changing concert

      Seeing Bob Dylan play in 2012 for the first time. It was strange to me then, and still is now, that I saw him perform in Lloydminster, where only 4,500 general admissions were made available. My dad and my brother immediately bought tickets when they came on sale, and so did one of my friends, who lived in nearby North Battleford. It was our big summer excursion. My relationship with Dylan’s work was fresh and robust then, but the idea of him as a real person, and someone I could witness in concert, had not occurred to me yet. It was fascinating and perhaps a bit overwhelming. The concert was held at the outdoor exhibition grounds, where, on non-concert days, there would typically be horse races and such. We showed up good and early and were the first in line at one of the two entrances, which were on either side of the long line of bleachers facing the stage. Between the bleachers and the stage was about 80 metres of open dirt. Our tickets must have been checked in advance because when the gates opened at six o’clock we were free to enter wherever we’d like. At first, everyone hesitated; there was a second of confusion, but when both sides understood what was happening, everyone flooded towards the stage as though we were thoroughbreds ourselves. Of course, we were young and fit then and did not trouble ourselves in getting to the front of the stage. It was amazing. I couldn’t believe it. The band opened with “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” and was on fire. They came out first, looking badass in matching suits, and then Dylan swaggered out after them as though it were 1966. They broke my heart with the second song, ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”, and the remainder of the concert was incredible. A lady who was our concert neighbour/friend flashed Dylan several times, which was an enormous sight for my 16-year-old eyes. Another thing I remember is how Dylan would do this thing during his songs where he’d stare at someone in the front row for a few seconds, as though he were reaching into their brain. He held our gaze on multiple occasions, which was a fantastic, uncomfortable sensation. It was ecstasy that evening.

      Top three records

      Bob Dylan Blood On the Tracks This album is responsible for most of what I am today. I must have been 14 when I began listening to my father’s records. I still remember the first time I put on Blood on the Tracks—it was an evening in the living room with my ears a foot away from the speakers while the household continued moving around me. I didn’t realize until then just how much depth of emotion and imagery could be placed in a song. I didn’t know a tune could be an entire novel. It blew my mind right open, as I am sure it has done for many others. The next day I snuck away to the basement with Desire where I could listen without anyone else near, and thus began a lifetime of trying to recapture that feeling again.

      Gillian Welch Soul Journey This album introduced me to Gillian Welch’s work, and my friend Sam Weber guided me to her catalogue, for which I owe him many thanks. Soul Journey came to me during a time when I wasn’t treating myself very well, and hearing those songs kept me going; they filled me with the courage to reach for the good. Now, when I return to the record, I am reminded of those times, which creates a complex and satisfying listening experience. Welch and Dave did an incredible job on the record, and one thing that stands out for me is the drumming. I absolutely love how dry the drums sound and how they don’t seem to be constrained by any rules. They always remind me that a good song doesn’t need to follow the crowd.

      Johnny Cash Sunday Morning Coming Down This was another record I found in my parents’ collection. This one makes it because it taught me how songwriting works. How the lyrics and meter link with the melody and how they fit over the skeleton of a song. Until then, songs were mainly these untouchable entities, where my job was to enjoy them and not understand their construction. With Johnny’s record, I began to play along and slowly learned the rules of a song. Another part of my brain was illumined, and songwriting began to appear simple—even something I could do.

      Favourite video

      Johnny Cash "Hurt" Truthfully, I have never kept up with music videos, however, Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” does come to mind. I first watched the video years after he and June passed, and being invited into those final scenes is a remarkable gift. The colours set the tone magnificently, and, as a viewer, being propelled through the video with its progressive urgency and symbolism is both heartbreaking and beautiful. This video (and song) is one of those things I need often, but only a little at a time.

      What’s in your fridge

      Anchovies. My favourite pizza is with anchovies and capers. One of my favourite plates of pasta is with an anchovy, butter, and pepper sauce. Caesar salad. Worcestershire. Anchovies can enhance a lot of dishes by adding a depth that is hard to pin down. Yum.

      Sambal Oelek. This is an essential. My favourite chilli sauce and one that gets used in countless dishes. Funny enough, looking in the fridge now, I do need to buy some more.

      Duck Eggs. The reason they are currently in my fridge is to use in making pasta dough. I like to whip up a batch or two at once and freeze them for later. Duck eggs create a rich, intricate flavour in the pasta, which I love. These eggs came from a small farm on Pender Island where the road sign advertising them said, “Don’t be a chicken, try duck eggs.”

      You can listen to and buy Zach Kleisinger's debut album Their Symposium here