ZHU: Electronic Music of the Future

Photo Credit: Joey Vitalari

ZHU caught the attention of people with the release of his smash hit “Faded.” Since the release, the artist has built a catalog of dance songs that combine his vocals with dark, pop production. ZHU has captured audiences with his love of heavy bass lines and spacey vocals. Steven Zhu was born on April 28, 1989. The Chinese-American grew up in San Francisco, California. Steven attended the University of Southern California where he studied music and he later graduated from the Thornton School of Music in 2011. ZHU’s first project as a musician was “52 to ZHU” which entailed him creating a new song every week for one year. While the songs helped Zhu figure out his sound, most of these early tracks have not been released to the public.

ZHU’s first track he released was “Moves Like Ms Jackson” in 2014. The track is a mash up of several Outkast songs performed by ZHU. In April, ZHU released his first EP titled The Nightday and he caught great attention with the track “Faded.” The song soared on streaming platforms and gave ZHU the spotlight amongst a bigger crowd of listeners. Even as the song blew up, ZHU kept a tight lid on his identity. Genesis Series was a collaborative effort between ZHU and multiple artists in different genres of music. On each track ZHU connects with different performers to bridge soul, hip-hop, and house music together. These artists include AlunaGeorge, Keznamdi, Gallant, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Vancouver Sleep Clinci, and Skillrex. The sultry, deep house music ZHU released gave more excitement to people partying at clubs.

ZHU released his debut album Generationwhy on July 29, 2016. In 14-tracks, the album explores ZHU’s nostalgia for the ‘80s in a modern pop way. Generationwhy is an album made for the night. With sounds of police sirens, guitar solos, and rhythm, ZHU brings a lot to the table for fans of electronic music. While the album was generally well received, it fell short of capturing a large audience. Stardustexhalemarrakechdreams was released on August 18, 2017. The four tracks EP brought a deeper, heavier sound to ZHU. Tracks on the EP bring in different influences like EDM and pop that connect to the success of “Faded.” ZHU collaborated with Nero to produce “Dreams.” Each song on the EP brings the listener a step closer to a trance.

In April 2018 ZHU released his third EP, Ringos Desert Pt.1. The seven tracks on the EP pulls from the desires and relationship experiences that ZHU has encountered. “Guilty Love” and “Provocateur” are deep house songs that get listeners up and moving. The EP was received favorably due to ZHU’s ability to get placement on the top EDM playlist on the streaming platform Spotify. Ringos Desert was released on September 7, 2018. This 15-track album comes together to tell a love story that tracks the highs and lows of a relationship. The first seven songs of the album were in ZHU’s previous EP, Ringos Desert Pt.1. Certain songs like “Desert Woman” or “Drowning” talk about ZHU’s passion and fulfillment from his interactions. Others like “Story Love” express the stressful times. The sophomore album by ZHU is a defined work by the artist. It gained more traction on the Billboard music charts.

On April 30, 2021 ZHU released his third album titled DREAMLAND 2021. The 12-track album features artists like Channel Tres, Tinashe, and Yuna. DREAMLAND 2021 allows new and old fans to listen to his dreams of the future. ZHU shines vocally on tracks like “Sweet Like Honey”, and DREAMLAND 2021 shows listeners that ZHU can step away from his club anthems to create even more enticing music. Overall, ZHU has created music made for the late-night club scene. From his hit single “Faded” to “Sky Is Falling”, Zhu creates experiences for people looking to get lost in the dark, hazy club life. After the global hardship the world experienced in 2020, ZHU is expressing his relief with the return to regular life looming ahead. This Grammy-nominated artist isn’t stopping anytime soon.

Written by: Carlton Rolle

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