In his third-ever interview since his rise to fame, the first of which to occur on American soil, Zhu exchanged (few) words with LA Times just days ahead of his possible appearance at this year’s Grammy Awards. Though his most recent talks revealed only small bits and pieces regarding his identity and music, he has re-affirmed that his name is Steven Zhu, he is 25, grew up in San Francisco but currently lives in LA, and that he produces and provides the vocals on his tracks. His native attire includes a pair of black sunglasses, black leather jacket, and a white T-shirt — a rather clean-cut look for the man in question.
Here are 10 things ZHU finally wants you to know about.
1. Zhu sings, and he sings well.
“I sang on [“Faded”] but I think that’s something that happens to a lot of people. What I’m doing here is allowing an open canvas for anyone who listens to this song to look in the mirror and a lot of people who listen to “Faded” have that exact same emotion at some point in their life, or the past week or the past couple of days. And all I am is just a mirror and I reflect what they see. So that particular song – I’m sure many men have been thinking about that late at night.”
2. Multitasking is his specialty, as he writes, produces and sings simultaneously.
“What’s cool about this project is that I’m able to write, produce and sing and pick what voice works. My voice works for some things but it doesn’t work for everything. So if I need a different texture, then I’m gonna go and get it.”
3. There is something satisfying to him about not having a concrete identity.
“Being able to be stealthy. And I think you get to see a lot of things that happen and what people are like if they don’t know who you are. If people know who I am, they’re gonna put on their best face. But it’s kinda cool to see who’s genuine about what they do.”
4. In addition to electronic music, Zhu is also passionate about Jazz.
“I love jazz, and I grew up playing jazz. There is some gritty element of musicians who really love music. You could be anyone. You could be a very famous artist, someone in the streets. But when you’re in their presence, you’re all the same. When you play with them, work with them, talk to them, share a meal – everyone is equal which to me is special.”
5. Zhu’s home is his studio, and he prefers to limit himself when producing music.
“Obviously, my team has done a great job and we’ve worked with what we’ve got. Making a record in an environment that – for instance, I wrote a lot of my songs in my apartment. That’s all I had. But you feel that. It’s a lonely, dark, sexy vibe. But that’s the vibe that was intended based on the situation. So we have to give ourselves limitations to be able to make the record in a specific format marketed in a way where there are limitations. We’re independent, but I think it’s gonna work out.”
6. The idea to remain anonymous wasn’t always part of the plan.
“It was never my intention to be anonymous. To me, I just wanted the music to speak for itself. People are gonna find out and catch on and in the beginning all we were trying to do was like, “Hey, here’s the music, listen to it without judging who’s behind it.” Obviously people want to find out who the artist is but to me, the music is definitely more important than who’s behind it.”
7. Quality over quantity, always.
You know to me, quality is more important than quantity. With this EP, we chose to put six really great tracks ranging from more vocal based to more club based, more chill based to more of a kind of seductive tone and give people variety.
8. Zhu’s project is “all about the art” and is meant to elicit more meaningful responses from fans.
“This project is all about art, and we try to make it all about the songs and the response,” he said. “Being able to have everyone focus back on music is the first step. But the second is to have influence and have people care.”
9. He looks up to Prince and strives to create a more intriguing musical experience for fans.
“When you see someone like Prince, they way he looks and behaves totally matches the music,” Zhu said. “Great music always transcends, but artists have to create the space for fans to go beyond the music.”
10. Fans can expect to see some new collaborations in the future, but not with the Hardwells and the Zedds of the electronic music community.
“There are some things in the works. We’re looking to collaborate with people who are artists in their own right. Who are uniquely different but come together, we can make cool stuff. Kind of like how Jay Z and Linkin Park did.”
Via: LA Times
Photo: Christina House / For The Times