Zach Sullentrup's 'Debt Sounds' showcases his talent as an upcoming artist

The album is a combination of emo, pop and indie rock music, with an ironic twist.

Alumnus Zach Sullentrup will release his new album Debt Sounds on May 26. The album is featured on his new label Flaming Garbage Records.

Debt Sounds is a poetic masterpiece. The album features songs that describe Sullentrup’s personal experiences dealing with mental illness, heartbreak, newfound adulthood and more.

The album offers a variety of catchy tunes and more emotional songs that allow him to showcase his strong vocals while also encouraging his listeners to look within themselves. His songs are a combination of emo, pop and indie rock. This combination allows him to distinctly establish himself as someone that everyone needs to hear.

“Most of these songs on this album were written while I was a student,” Sullentrup, who graduated from MU in 2016, said. “I think actually all of them were written during my time as a student and follows my path through mental health and a lot of other things that I dealt with during my student years and as I saw myself entering a more formal adulthood outside of school.”

However, many of the songs offer an ironic twist: they are upbeat while covering dark and depressing topics. The song “At Least I Don’t Want To Die Anymore” is an example of this, because despite the emotional experiences described in the song, Sullentrup transformed it into a catchy, hopeful anthem.

Debt Sounds, the album title, emphasises the literal and emotional debt that millennials face while transitioning into adulthood.

“Every generation of 20-somethings is affected by debt in some way,” Sullentrup said. “Today, student debt is obviously a very big deal, but I was thinking more about the idea of emotional debt and how we find ourselves owing ourselves to other people, owing certain things to the world or thinking that we owe certain things to ourselves.”

“In Debt,” another song on the album, describes this emotional debt that he is experiencing and how he feels like he owes something to another person but can’t find a way to pay it back. The lyrics go: “And you were never a question / You were an answer to everything I was going through / We’re left with so many questions / I’d like to answer yours I think I owe you that / I’m in debt.”

Sullentrup aims to capture the complexities of young adulthood in his music while still offering a lighter tone.

“That’s what I tried to kind of let guide the narrative, and on top of that it adds that funny twist of taking something that’s kind of dark, like debt, and making it a pun, which is goofy,” Sullentrup said. “Which I think is another theme that defines the album is that contrast of darkness and humor.”

Unlike typical album releases, Sullentrup plans to release his album in an unconventional way. The release for Debt Sounds will be a coffee mug. Inside the coffee mug there will be a tea bag which will have a download code on it.

“In theory, we are still selling music, we are still making sure everyone when they are buying it that they are first and foremost buying a copy of my album,” Sullentrup said. “But more importantly, they are taking away something that adds to that experience.”

For Sullentrup, this method of selling his music allows the listener to take ownership of it in a way that streaming services don’t.

“I also think it’s really important that people are able to own music and with Spotify you don’t own music, you own your account. MP3s are kind of the last way people can really own a piece of art in the same way you would own a painting,” Sullentrup said. “It’s not like you just have access to a website where you can see every painting in the world, but to actually own that painting in some capacity I think is cool. I think music is the same way for me.”

Sullentrup and his Terrible 20s, a group of his two friends and brother, will perform Debt Sounds on June 3 at Blueberry Hill Duck Room in St. Louis. Whether listeners are experiencing loss, heartbreak or debt, Sullentrup’s music will relate to many people on an extremely personal level.

Edited by Libby Stanford |

More Stories