A few weeks ago, 22-year-old singer-songwriter-producer Jeremy Zucker was graduating from Colorado College with a degree in molecular biology. And now, he’s embarking on a new chapter in his life, recently releasing his fifth EP glisten and preparing for his first U.S. headlining tour in the fall.
Originally from Franklin Lakes, N.J., Zucker was raised in a musical household with his parents and two older brothers. He took piano lessons when he was younger but begged his parents to play the guitar instead. He became interested in late ’90s/early 2000s punk rock bands like Blink-182.
“I wanted to be in a rock band. I wanted to be this angsty emo kid. So I picked up a guitar and immediately I started writing songs,” Zucker says. “There’s this notebook in my house from third grade and I would just write. I don’t even really remember most of them, but I would write them, really influenced by Blink-182.”
Zucker started producing music in middle school and credits hip-hop songwriting duo Kinetics & One Love — who wrote Hailee Steinfeld’s “Most Girls” and B.o.B’s “Airplanes” — for introducing him to GarageBand production.
“I found their music through like a friend who was like, ‘Oh, my friends go to college with these kids, they make music on GarageBand and it’s so good.’ I heard it and was like, ‘They’re doing this on GarageBand?’” he marveled. ?
After playing in an acoustic band in high school and producing for them, Zucker began officially releasing music under his full name on SoundCloud during his freshman year of college. He first only received a couple hundred plays here and there. It wasn’t until Zucker put his music on Spotify, and Spotify put him on their weekly playlists, that his listeners started to increase into the hundreds of thousands.
Then, something big happened: When Zucker was about to release his third EP Motions in 2016, blackbear’s manager reached out to him and requested to hear demos. blackbear ended up remixing Zucker’s Motions single “Heavy” into “Make Daddy Proud,” which came out five months later. They later collaborated on the single “talk is overrated” on Zucker’s EP idle, released in 2017.
“I was studying abroad in London when I woke up one morning in my tiny freshman dorm room and went on SoundCloud and saw ‘Make Daddy Proud’ posted. I was like, ‘Holy shit, this is super crazy,’” he says. “That was the first moment that I felt like my music was validated to the point where I can compete with real established artists.”
Zucker signed to Republic Records in 2017 but still produces and writes all of his songs himself (with a little help from friends). His music combines aspects of pop, indie and electric elements, while also deriving inspiration from musical icons Jon Bellion and EDEN. But he opposes the idea of “genre.”
“I don’t like the idea of genre, and that sounds so cliché to say,” says Zucker. “My point is that there’s no real boundaries between genres. The categories themselves don’t really even exist. You can say something is ‘indie pop’ but like, what exactly makes it indie pop?”
Zucker’s latest EP glisten reflects Zucker’s dedication to creating music that echoes what’s happening during his life at a given moment. After Zucker knew “all the kids are depressed” was going to be the main single of the EP, he grouped in other songs that formed a narrative, although he still wants a majority of it to be left up to interpretation.
“‘all the kids are depressed’ is setting the stage and then the second track was ‘wildfire’ — it’s about this relationship that I had with someone that was like completely idealized, and it went up in flames. Like something that’s so beautiful and so natural can have such a destructive ending,” Zucker adds. “The song fades into ‘glisten (interlude),’ which is kind of like the ashes. And that regrowth, that realization is that it was for a good reason, so that’s like ‘better off.’”
The singer’s latest music video, for “all the kids are depressed,” features stories of six kids managing life with depression. Zucker wanted the video to address depression in youth today in an upfront way, rather than dance around it. With the help of his friends, he put out a casting call on his Twitter asking kids to share their stories — even including an example of his own. They received hundreds of responses.
“Every time I read one, I felt like I was taking on the emotional labor of that person. It was important to me that those people were heard and validated in that music video,” he says. “The song was so forward and direct in what it’s talking about that I realized the music video has to be the same exact way. I had the idea for including subtitles to tell a story that was different than the lyrics of the song.”
This past year has been an exciting one for Zucker. In between finishing up his senior year, he went on tour with his friend Lauv — who is currently No. 1 on Billboard‘s Emerging Artists chart — on select U.S. tour dates and on his European tour. ?Zucker also managed to snatch the cover photo on Spotify’s Pop Rising playlist this week.
The anything, anywhere tour, which kicks off September 19 in Chapel Hill, N.C., will be the singer’s first U.S. headlining tour. But the October 25 show at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City will be a special one, he says, because it’s not only his biggest show, but friends and family will also be in attendance.
Zucker is currently gearing up to perform at the Firefly Music Festival on June 15 and is in the process of writing new music and preparing for his live set. Also, just like any other recent college grad, he’s looking for an apartment in New York City.
“This summer, I’m writing a ton of new music and I’m also putting together elements for the live show. What’s next? A lot of music, touring, content, new collabs,” he says. “I’m still trying to move into an apartment and get settled.”