April 9, 2023
(LOS ANGELES) — As a longtime fan of the H3 Podcast, I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with two of its members: Love, social media manager, Abdullah Ayad, aka AB Ayad, a producer of the podcast, and now Zach Louis, “the sound lad.” They represent three of the nine hard-working and unique crew members who are the glue that holds the podcast together. Each of them brings a unique skill to the table. From sound and graphic design to research, prop building, and more, it takes a wide range of abilities to generate such a fantastic show.
The H3 Podcast is a comedic show created by Ethan and Hila Klein. They feature multiple weekly episodes on Apple Podcasts and Youtube, covering various topics, including politics, pop culture, and interviews. The H3 Podcast has amassed almost three million subscribers on YouTube and regularly receives close to a million views per episode. While sometimes reckless, the unpredictability of the show is truly nothing short of genius.
Each podcast member’s journeys to the show and their varied personalities create a true recipe for success. It should be noted that each of these individuals really loves their job. They each expressed their gratitude for the podcast and the opportunities it’s granted them.
Louis is no different. “I’m very blessed. I always tell people I have the best job in the world because I get to be me.”
***Louis and I chat over Zoom on a chill Thursday night. His captivating smile shines through the screen as he wears one of his recognizable button-up Hawaiian shirts. As I scramble to set up my notes, Louis surprises me when he asks how I am — I appreciate his thoughtfulness. He has just gotten home from filming an episode of “Leftovers,” a politically-focussed show of the podcast featuring political commentator Hasan Piker and host Ethan Klein. He tells me he’s been working on the podcast for almost five years now and can’t believe how fast time flies. As a longtime listener myself, I can’t help but agree with him.
Louis’ journey is one of chance and persistence, as his unfaltering love for music helped him land his role in 2018 as head of sound design at the H3 Podcast. As the acclaimed “soundbite king,” the 25-year-old has undoubtedly mastered the art of the perfectly timed sound bite. His impressive sound work, coupled with his flourishing musical ability, earned him the nickname “Zach The Sound Lad.”
His personal music career has grown steadily over the years as the fans of the H3 podcast have also become his biggest musical supporters. If you follow Louis on Twitter or watch the H3 Podcast, you’ll know that he’s “Live At The Roxy May 13th.” He never fails to advertise his upcoming May show on all social platforms, including the podcast.
Since he launched his musical career, Louis has performed at various smaller venues in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas, including the Troubadour, an event venue in West Hollywood that he sold out.
“I called my mom crying thinking ‘this is not real right now’ like, this is insane,” said Louis, reminiscing about the event.
Louis is, as he puts it, “A Jewish kid from the valley.” He attended private school from grades K-12 and said that his school didn’t have a music department. And yet, Louis was surrounded by music his whole childhood. He’s been playing guitar since he was 4 and was part of a band called “Join The Band” from 2009-2013. They even performed at The Whisky when he was just 12 years old.
“My dad got me into music when I was young, ” said Louis. “He was playing that stuff when I was in the womb.”
Louis wanted to continue his life journey surrounded by music. He attended music school, initially wanting to go for guitar.
“But I looked at myself and said, I’ve been playing guitar for a while, and there are so many struggling musicians out there. It just didn’t seem practical to me. So I’m like, maybe I’ll go for audio engineering.”
Louis was a long-time fan of the H3 podcast in its early days, long before he joined the team. One day, he messaged the show’s producer Dan Swerdlove and landed himself an interview. He was hired immediately.
“We talked on the phone, and then I met him at a Coffee Bean in Encino, and he offered me the job,” Louis recounted.
When Louis started working on the podcast, he was just the audio guy, but the host, Ethan Klein had bigger plans for him.
“Ethan and I are both huge Howard Stern fans. So he’s like, ‘I want you to be my Fred Norris.’ So I said, okay, I can do that. It started off with my small shitty laptop. And it kind of built and evolved into my job and my madness today,” explained Louis.
Working at the H3 Podcast, says Louis, is a group effort. He collaborates on a daily basis with his fellow co-workers to create a cohesive and engaging show. Each member holds an important role. Without this teamwork, the show might experience more hiccups.
Louis’ average day at the podcast consists of arriving at the studio, grabbing a cup of coffee, and enjoying a cigarette before starting work. He often works with producer AB Ayad and Olivia Lopes, another podcast crew member.
“On Tuesdays, I help AB research along with Olivia, but I also have to make sure that I have everything pulled and prepared for segments for the week. So I also coordinate with Ian [another producer of the podcast] and camera switcher quite a lot,” said Louis.
One of the many roles that Louis does is composing intro music for the H3’s show Off The Rails [an H3 show], and every week he comes up with a different genre. Just recently, he did a classical music style. He says that the biggest support of his work is his colleagues.
“We [the H3 Podcast team] all work together. We’re always looking for stories and goofs throughout the week. I think when you put all these different personalities in a room together, you’re gonna get lightning in a bottle.”
As someone who was always fascinated with sound, Louis says that in his current role, he is able not just to do his job but also to compose quite a bit of original music for the show. He even composed the theme songs for two of H3’s shows: Frenemies and Leftovers. When asked how he picks his perfect soundbite, Louis says he doesn’t quite know.
“I always say, I have to think three steps ahead of Ethan [he laughs]. And I will say that this job has made me a very good typer. I’ve always been a bad typer, but I’m Mavis Beacon now. I usually prepare for stuff like music. But the quick-witted stuff, that’s all on the fly,” he said.Louis is currently working on new music, hoping to launch an original album soon.
“My Spotify numbers aren’t great, but I have about eight songs out on Spotify that are originals. I was actually finishing up some of the vocals on a track I’m working on [and] I have a title for the record. It’s called “Love Songs and What Have You,” he said.
Louis credits a portion of his success to the show and expresses gratitude for his fan’s support. Known for his laid-back persona and quick-witted humor, he tries to stay true to his personality during shows. He leans into the character fans built for him but is proud to say he is genuine. He sports an authentic smile through the screen as he expresses his gratitude for his life.
“I portray a character on the show, but it’s still me. I’m very blessed with where I am in my life. And I never thought in a million years [that] I could be here.”