When ZHU released his Genesis Series EP last September via a cryptic online word puzzle, it was fitting that its focus was on his collaborators. The faceless artist has always eschewed the spotlight ever since first beguiling the blogosphere with a mysterious Outkast mashup a little over two years ago.
Now a rising star sporting a Grammy-nominated hit (“Faded”) and a coveted Coachella slot, ZHU was able to enlist an impressive band of confederates to join him in the Genesis endeavor — including dance heavyweights Skrillex and A-Trak, rising vocalists AlunaGeorge and Gallant and hip-hop veterans Bone Thugs N Harmony.
With his Neon City headlining tour kicking off in Indio and his debut album Generation Why set for release later this year, the six-song collection provided a star-studded preview of ZHU’s next career chapter.
But how does one work with an anonymous artist? AlunaGeorge readily admits, “It was something that I wasn’t really sure could even happen.” Fortunately, she and eight of his other creative partners-in-crime have created a joint oral tapestry to give fans unique insight into the creative process of an artist who believes music should speak for itself.
Skrillex describes how ZHU’s studio’s proximity to a strip club gave rise to the concept behind their song “Working for It.”
“His studio is right across the street from the stripclub. We like made up this concept. He’s like ‘What if we actually went over and like rescued the girls? Because she’s been working there all night long.’ Fun little ditty ditty. Got that kind of little Dr. Dre vibe on the piano. Really fun shoutout for ZHU for playing the guitar; the man, the myth, the legend… the secret of ZHU.”
Finally, A-Trak urges dance music fans to “trust him.” “You know, I think what he’s been doing lately with delivering songs that each have a bit of a different style or genre but, in the sonics of it, they all tie together as ZHU.”
For full interviews with ZHU’s Genesis Series collaborators, listen to the playlist below: