ZHU talks Musical Chairs mixtape, fashion and more at Austin City Limits 2022 [Exclusive Interview]
ZHU is not just only a household name in electronic music. The west-coast artist has now solidified himself as one of the all-time greats within the industry. He consistently finds ways to put his unique signature style on every project he releases, whether that be through music or other ventures outside the walls of his time signatures and audio files.
Amid his surprise dropped mixtape, ‘Musical Chairs (Vol. 1),’ ZHU is currently touring across the United States, headlining some of the country’s most prestigious festivals and venues. His latest stop found him in Austin, Texas for Austin City Limits Music Festival. The We Rave You team was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit and talk with ZHU before his performance.
Listening back to [Musical Chairs Mixtape Vol. 1] it’s amazing. What was your thought process in creating this mixtape? What do you want the listener to experience? Because it is a journey from start to finish.
“Yeah, I mean, I just grew up kind of, you know, in the cassette era before we went super CD to mp3s, and I thought that it would be a pretty cool experience to make a piece of music that fit on the cassette. So that’s kind of what I intended to do. And I think I kind of like making some music for a format that is pretty kind of, you know, experiential. So, I think for a minute I want to just keep things like cassette and off DSPs. And just have the listener experience it in a different way. You know, I think just, there’s too much stuff out there without context. And I think it’s great that, you know, this gives it some context.”
It kind of forces them to view it in a whole other perspective.
“I mean, when I kind of first started listening to projects, a lot of it was just mixtapes and cassettes that either I ripped off the radio or somebody, you know, somebody’s passing it around. And, you know, obviously today we consume music in such a rapid way that nobody really takes 30 minutes to flip the cassette. I thought it was kind of important for people to experience that for the first time.”
Obviously fashion has been such a big part of who you are. You’ve done these fashion shows at your shows and you did that at Coachella. So how does that help you define who you are? Because, you know, obviously, there’s a difference between you the individual and you’re the artist.
“Fashion for me is very much of an ongoing experiment. I like to tinker and dabble and it kind of makes me think in a very different way than music does. But it still, you know, exercises that part of my brain that’s creative. So I mean, just like music, it’s a powerful medium of expression. And when people put on things that have a purpose, like, they feel different. And that gives them a different character and a different experience based on what fabrics they choose, or what cuts, you know, what they’re wearing.”
This [current] show that you’re doing. What do you want [the audience] to experience? What do you want them to take away from after seeing a ZHU set?
“I think that it’s a story of a combination of different cultures mixing together. We have, you know, fundamentally a lot of electronic things, but also, I got a band, and we’re playing it live. And I’m taking everybody on an experience and a journey. So for me, it’s more about letting everybody come along on a ride and I think they’re supposed to either love it or hate it.”
Being [Musical Chairs Mixtape] Volume One, how many more of these do you think you’d put out not on DSP?
“I mean, yeah. I think as many as something inspires, right? The point about a mixtape is that it’s not official. It doesn’t have to be. And I think that there’s a lot of value in just being able to make some stuff and put it out without having to make it official. You know, when I do something that’s official, like, I come into it big, but that doesn’t necessarily mean people shouldn’t experiment with music.”
Are we going to see you go a little more out there? If you continue this?
“Yeah. I’m always out there.”
Check out ZHU’s latest release, ‘Musical Chairs Mixtape (Vol. 1),’ via Astralwerks below. Check out his latest merch line for the release here.
Image Credit: Taylor Regulski