As music fans in general, not just EDM fans, we are all seemingly always on the edge of our seats waiting for the next big name to step out of the shadows and into the limelight of his or her genre. They could come from anywhere at any time, any color, shape, or size, any background, any part of the world, and in any manner. They tend to breathe fresh air into any genre they burst into and bring either a new sound, direction, or perspective into the scene.
I am not one to religiously seek out these up-and-coming artists, though I do enjoy finding out about fresh acts so long as the talent is there to back it up. And I believe I have heard someone who could easily be one of the next big things in EDM.
His name is Steven Zhu, better known in the electronic community simply as ZHU. Though the name may not be so vastly unknown after his single “Faded” hit the airwaves last year, he still doesn’t seem as widely recognized as some other names out there. However, it seems like that is about to change very quickly.
Though “Faded”, and the entirety of his first EP “The Nightday” were both well received and well put-together, it seems as if the 26 year old producer is just beginning to scratch the surface of his musical aptitude. Now that ZHU is no longer preferring to keep his identity anonymous, it seems he is ready to jump deep into the EDM pool with a colossal cannonball.
Over the past couple of months, ZHU has been nonchalantly dropping singles here and there that are all parts mesmerizing, captivating, funky, entertaining, and quite diverse. So far this summer, the still mysterious ZHU has dropped four singles, each with a unique sound and equally unique collaborations that have kept my summer enjoyable and should hopefully be soundtracks of your fall.
The first single called “Automatic” (listen below) features spellbinding vocals from the gifted AlunaGeorge, who has previously worked with EDM powerhouses Baauer and Jack U. The beat he puts together is intoxicating in its mellow bounce, and also features a stunning appearance of vocals from the producer himself, showing his existential range with this whole music thing.
He then dropped “As Crazy As It Is” featuring Keznamdi as well as the popular A-Trak. Though also mellow in execution, this song is clearly different from the previously mentioned single. This tune brings out a more tropical and ever-so-slightly reggae vibe that takes you away to a musical paradise with its stimulating mix of acoustic guitar plucks, vinyl scratches, and melodic vocal/reggae vocal give-and-take.
His third song, which was released not even two weeks ago, features label mate and alt-R&B singer Gallant and is titled “Testarossa Music”. The first seconds of the song peak your interest with an intense electric guitar solo that transitions into a very funky beat that gets your head bumping along with it. Gallant’s vocals are beautiful and mesh so well with the music especially at the hooks where he really brings the heat with layered splendor and intensity.
The most recent release, “Hold Up Wait A Minute”, is his most astonishing collab as it features legendary hip-hop group Bone-Thugs-n-Harmony as well as Trombone Shorty. Here, ZHU quickens the pace a bit and perfectly blends his electronic sound with the fast pace rapping of the rap group. The addition of the jazzy trumpet from Shorty between vocal transitions is pure magic and shows how gifted of a musical ear he really possesses.
Let’s also not forget ZHU has a much anticipated and sure-to-amaze joint with the dubstep god himself Skrillex dropping very soon as well. This is a prime example of opposites attracting as two differentiating sounds and styles will come together, undoubtedly compliment each other extremely well, and surely unleash its creative fury onto the public when we least expect it.
Now I know the name ZHU isn’t as unidentified to some as it once was, but I know he is still halfway in the shadows of the EDM world, mostly due to his election to remain anonymous when featured on tracks up until last year. So here is my message to anyone still unfamiliar with the name: check him out. We have a truly special artist rapidly coming up in the EDM ranks and so far from what I have heard it is well deserved. The talent level here is outrageous, and he is just getting started.
You want the next big thing? He’s right here. And his name is ZHU.
From my first festival experience at Buku 2013 I have been a nonstop part of the EDM community and love every aspect of it. I have been writing for as long as I can remember and it's what I love to do, so music + writing is the perfect combination for me.