"It came from a desire to be more collaborative," says Jonathon Zemek of his new multimedia project Hillcrest. "You know, [to] work with artists locally that I just adore. So that was kind of the fundamental root of it."
Hillcrest started with a couple of songs that Zemek wrote after his former band Soul Track Mind came to an end. "The first couple of songs that were written... started to lend themselves more to this... enveloping story," Zemek says. Along with producer Matt Smith, Zemek developed that emerging story into the concept for a graphic novel that would accompany the new album.
Zemek and Smith enlisted local artist Chris Rogers to create the visual art and gathered together a host of Austin singers to provide vocals for the tracks (each singing the part of a character from the graphic novel).
Assembling the cast gave Zemek the opportunity to work with several of his favorite singers. "That's probably the best experience ever for me, is being to work with people that I really, truly, have a lot of respect for locally," Zemek says. "Like your Guy Forsyth, your Malford Milligan, and all the other folks who are on it. My pride of it is that. I'm really happy to get to work with them."
And there may be more Hillcrest left to come. "How it's going to progress from here, I don't know," Zemek says. He's got more story in mind for Peter, the story's protagonist, but he's still thinking of how he'd like to tell that story (or if he's like to pass it along to another artist to continue instead). "There so much room -- there's so much room for it to go," he says.