A Deeper Look into the Engima: Charting Zhu's Rise to the Top
Good music speaks for itself.
That’s been the mantra for ZHU, the Bay Area-born and Grammy-nominated producer, who for the beginning of his career shrouded himself in anonymity before finally breaking the seal.
The ultimate ambassador for an artist’s vision resides in their work, and not their persona. Because of this, ZHU focused attention away from himself, instead letting his masterful soundscapes speak for themselves.
Major attention followed his 2014 release “Moves Like Ms Jackson,” a mash-up of Outkast tracks with the soulful-house flare ZHU delivers on so well and in April of the same year he dropped The Nightday EP, a project layered with powerful underground club sounds and universal sensibility.
Among these unforgettable rhythms and intoxicating vocal sequences was the lead single and smash record “Faded,” a song that amassed international praise, tallied major spins worldwide and gave ZHU his first Grammy nomination for Best Dance Record.
Not one to rest on his laurels, he released Genesis Series in November 2015. The EP showcased a diverse range of collaborations, from the Trombone Shorty and Bone Thugs-laced eclectic funk jam that is “Hold Up, Wait a Minute,” to rotation regulars like “Automatic” with AlunaGeorge, and “Working For It” featuring Skrillex and THEY.
The following year, on the heels of his first headlining tour that included a lights-out showing at Coachella, ZHU put out the single “In the Morning.” The lead single to his debut album Generationwhy was accompanied by some truly stellar cinematography.
Pushing the envelope, ZHU expanded his artistic boundaries with Generationwhy past the club-friendly realm of Nightday. Thoroughly danceable, he builds upon his soulful uptempo stylings with lush instrumentation; sensual guitar flare spiced throughout the record, in tandem with guest female vocals (including Nikola Bedingfield, sister of Natasha and Daniel, who supplied vocals on “Reaching”), provides something extra than what’s accustomed.
Most recently in 2017 he dropped “Nightcrawler,” a brooding return to his earlier sound that is definitely rinse-worth, and earlier this week he churned out a remix of “Andromeda” by Gorillaz.
ZHU’s musical flavor is like nostalgia lived-out in real time. Taking influences from soul, jazz, funk and hip hop, then blending these elements together into a rich, uptempo sonic-landscape that toes the line between digging at the past and paving way for the future. His music speaks to human nature, with lyrics that capture moments in the time and grooves that let those thoughts properly marinate. ZHU’s sounds have you losing track of time--whether on the danc efloor or headphones turned up.
The art is what ZHU centers on. Why does he need to talk when the music speaks volumes?
Catch ZHU at the upcoming shows and festivals this season such as: The Middlelands, Spring Awakening, What The Festival, Blacklizt, Global Dance, and Life Is Beautiful. Get tickets here.
Colorado native living right outside the Bass Capitol. DJ turned writer-- I heard that's the natural progression. If the music doesn't make you feel something, what's the point?