2019 American Music Awards

How Howard Stern Helped Inspire Zookeper's New Hit: Billboard Dance Chart Upstarts

Anna Lee
Zookëper

Each week, Billboard Dance looks at songs & albums rising on Billboard's dance charts.

Zookeper with Cecilia Gault, "Parallel Lines"

Los Angeles-based producer Zookeper (real name Michael Doerr) zips onto Billboard's Dance/Mix Show Airplay chart (dated Nov. 9) at No. 39 with "Parallel Lines," featuring singer Cecilia Gault.

The track is the follow-up to the New Jersey native's first chart hit, "Watch Me" (No. 15 in July), as well as the first Billboard chart entry for Gault. "Parallel" lines up spins on core-dance affiliates including Music Choice's Dance/EDM channel, KNHC (C89.5) Seattle and SiriusXM's BPM, according to Nielsen Music.

"I wanted to keep with the almost overly-simplistic approach that I've been taking on my last few releases," Zookeper tells Billboard. "I pitched Cecilia's vocal down a semitone to give it a little bit more of a sample-type feel, which I've been doing a lot lately. I think a lot of people are worried about making the most hi-fidelity records possible right now, but I've been having more fun degrading the audio and down-sampling things. It just feels a little more realistic to me at the moment."

As for the song's unlikely inspiration, Zookeper notes, "I listen to Howard Stern in the car sometimes, and I remember him mentioning that once he went to Sirius [now SiriusXM], he didn't have any rules; he could do and say whatever he wanted without getting in trouble. But rather than abuse that and put on an all-out freak show, he thought it would be better to reel it in a bit and highlight the more substantive aspects of his show instead.

"I know it's a strange comparison, but that's sort of how I feel about making music on computers," Zookeeper muses. "In other words, now that we can throw 200 tracks into a session and make the most 'expensive'-sounding records in our bedrooms, I seem to be less interested in doing so. What interests me right now is the idea of having three or four solid elements that work together well, and worrying less about them sounding new and shiny. Some of the best records, especially in the house space right now, sound like they're underwater, which I actually love."

ZHU & partywithray, "Came for the Low"

Mysterious DJ/producer ZHU, teaming with Los Angeles-based DJ partywithray, cruises onto Hot Dance/Electronic Songs at No. 31 with "Came for the Low." ZHU's 14th entry and partywithray's first drew 574,000 U.S. streams in the tracking week ending Oct. 31.

The song, whose video features a surprise appearance from Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, references the Storm Area 51 event on Sept. 20, when civilians attempted to raid the Nevada U.S. Air Force facility to find information on extraterrestrial life.

Black Marble, Bigger Than Life

Brooklyn native and Los Angeles-based synth act Black Marble (aka Chris Stewart) rolls onto several Billboard albums charts with Bigger Than Life (2,000 equivalent album units; 1,000 in album sales). Bigger bows on Dance/Electronic Album Sales (No. 1), Heatseekers Albums (No. 7), Alternative Album Sales (No. 16) and Top Dance/Electronic Albums (No. 23), among others. The set follows It's Immaterial, which reached No. 14 on Top Dance/Electronic Albums in 2016.

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