Released in May, Tiësto and Canadian DJ powerhouse Dzeko‘s “Jackie Chan” — a reworking of Preme‘s original Light of Day track featuring Post Malone — is a splashy, trap-fueled slice of summer. And for 26-year-old Dzeko, a longtime Tiësto collaborator and former half of duo Dzeko & Torres, it’s a milestone: the addictive mega-collab marks his first-ever entry on the Billboard Hot 100, where the song recently peaked at No. 57.
As the track continues to prolong summer vibes all the way into September, Dzeko (whose full name is Julian Dzeko) tells Billboard how it all came together through a spontaneous studio session, the greatest lesson he’s learned from working with “godfather of dance music” Tiësto and more tidbits.
How did “Jackie Chan” come about?
I’ve known Tiësto for a long time. We’ve been good friends. I’m also from Toronto, same as Preme, so I met Preme three years ago at a Drake concert in Toronto. We were always going back and forth. One night, I went to [Preme’s] studio in Calabasas, and we made a lit song for Roy Woods called “Something New.”
Going back to “Jackie Chan,” I’ve just been friends with Preme for a long time, same with Tiësto, and I know Post, and Preme was working on his album. Preme played us “Jackie Chan,” his version, and we talked about how we could give it an upbeat, summery vibe. It was very spontaneous.
What stood out to you about the original, and made you want to rework it?
When me and Tiësto heard it, we were like “Shit, this is really cool. We could definitely somehow flip it.” Not too EDM, but still dance-y. A summery vibe. The second I heard the hook, little things like “Uber out to Calabasas,” I knew. I instantly knew, “this is insane.”
You started DJing at age 14 after seeing Tiësto? perform live. What was it like to work with him?
He was the first DJ that I looked up to when I got into DJing. He was the first person that I saw DJ — that’s what made me want to become a DJ, was Tiësto. So being able to work with him on a song together and with Preme and Post on it as well was a dream come true. It’s always such a good experience working with Tiësto. He has such a good ear with melodies and sounds. When you work with a guy like him, he’s been doing it, literally, for 25 years. He’s the godfather of dance music.
Is there one lesson in particular that you’ve taken away from working together?
To really make the kind of music that you enjoy. I’m gonna explore a couple of other styles, and his advice to me was to make music you believe in and to stick to your sound. I’ve learned a million things from him, but I would say that’s one of the top fives. I have a whole list.
Do you remember the first time that you heard “Jackie Chan” on the radio?
In Toronto, the day it came out. I got into an Uber from the airport, and it was already playing. It was like “Oh shit!” [Laughs.] I’ve had songs on the radio, but nowhere like this, you know? This is worldwide.
“Jackie Chan” marks your first-ever Hot 100 entry. How does that feel?
That’s also another dream, and a big accomplishment. As an artist or a DJ, being able to say that you have something on the Hot 100, it’s a whole different league for songs — what’s really influencing. The most legendary artists of all time, they all had something on Billboard Hot 100, you know? It’s something that I’ve always wanted.
What do you think hip-hop brings to a dance track?
Hip-hop beefs [dance music] up, makes it super energetic. As a DJ, some of the most reactive edits or mashups that you play in your sets are hip-hop. It’s cool seeing how hip-hop artists are actually collaborating on EDM tracks, too. I think it’s really good. It’s definitely something that is going to continue or keep growing — hip-hop artists working with DJs. Tiësto actually did a song with Three 6 Mafia years ago [“Feel It,” 2009]. I’m trying to work with more hip-hop artists, too.
You left Dzeko & Torres to pursue a solo career in 2016. What’s been the biggest change for you since going solo?
It’s been a lot differently, obviously, DJing solo versus being with a partner. But nowadays, what I’m learning being a solo act is that you have to keep releasing a lot of content. Two years ago, as a duo, you could release a song once in a while, but now you have to keep churning out tracks. It’s a change. I’m adjusting to it, but I still enjoy everything. I love DJing, I love music, and the industry we work in.