ZHU reveals his debut album is in its infancy on first ever in-studio interview
In May, ZHU participated in what he claimed to be his “first and last” interview for quite some time. Seven months later, he returns to Triple J for his first-ever in-studio interview, speaking to Matt and Alex from an undisclosed location within their building to maintain his anonymity.
The interviewers found themselves particularly intrigued by ZHU’s hit, “Faded,” asking if the song was brought to life out of personal experience or if its message was perhaps influenced by the singer. ZHU reveals that it was he who provided “Faded’s” vocals and he describes himself as a mirror-like figure: “I sang on that track 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.”
He continues, “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. I think on the album there will be a lot more textures. Of course along with what I do. To broaden it and to add more colors to the palette.” ZHU’s forthcoming album, which is still in its “infant stages,” does not plan to digress from the core darkness of his music, but will “definitely expand and get to more of the light and uplifting stuff.”
For most it is incomprehensible that an individual as hugely successful as ZHU, who rose to fame in about ten months, wishes to remain a faceless celebrity. But for him, forfeiting a true identity is “the most fun part.” “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. I’m a fan of seeing the grassroots vibe of a culture. So I’m doing some recordings in New Orleans. 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.”
As for ZHU’s marketing strategy? He and his team do their best to work within strict boundaries and to limit themselves, but the challenge seems to be all the more inspiring. “A great record doesn’t need a particularly intense marketing plan,” he comments. “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.”