Oakland-based Zachary James Watkins performs an evening of solo music for guitar, electronics, and devices. Watkins studied composition with Janice Giteck, Jarrad Powell, Robin Holcomb, and Jovino Santos Neto at Cornish College. He received an MFA in Electronic Music and Recording Media in 2006 from Mills College, where he studied with Chris Brown, Fred Frith, Alvin Curran, and Pauline Oliveros. He has been an artist in residence at the Espy Foundation, Djerassi, and the Headlands Center for The Arts.
Watkins has received commissions from Documenta 14, the Kronos Quartet, The Living Earth Ensemble, sfsound, and the Seattle Chamber Players, among others. His 2006 composition, Suite for String Quartet, was awarded the Paul Merritt Henry Prize for Composition and has subsequently been performed at the Labs 25th Anniversary Celebration, the Labor Sonor Series at Kule in Berlin, and in Seattle as part of the 2nd Annual Town Hall New Music Marathon featuring violist Eyvind Kang. In 2008, Watkins premiered his multimedia work Country Western as part of the Meridian Gallery's Composers in Performance Series, and he recently completed Documentado / Undocumentado, a multimedia interactive book in collaboration with Guillermo Gómez Peña, Gustavo Vasquez, Jennifer Gonzalez, and Felicia Rice.
Watkins's band Black Spirituals opened for the drone metal band Earth during their 2015 European tour. He has recorded for the Sige, Cassauna, Confront (UK), The Tapeworm, and Touch (UK) labels.