Zhu‘s autumn keeps getting bigger, with the latest coup coming in the form of a new Apple iPhone XS ad featuring his 2017 song “Chasing Marrakech.” The mind-of-a-genius producer becomes the latest in a long line of illustrious Apple ad soundtrack contributors including Gorillaz, Daft Punk, ODESZA, and more. Zhu’s theatrical flair fits perfectly over the sleek visuals, and it’s worth wondering he could someday join Gorillaz as a twice-tapped Apple artist.
It’s not the first time that Apple has played a key part in Zhu’s music, with the tracklist for his recently released LP Ringos Desert seeing first light via Apple Music. The spot is a prime avenue of discovery for Zhu, and will likely be the latest chapter from the brand’s history in expanding artists’ audiences to casual music fans. For those not living under a dance music rock, “Chasing Marrakech” is just one of a slew of songs fans hope to hear as Zhu embarks across North America on his DUNE tour.
It’s no accident that every first listen to a new Zhu project feels like a carefully guarded private screening. He is, after all, a master curator. The stage was set long before an audience fills the seats, the impending vision immortalized long before scenes were spliced and set in stone. It’s also no accident that Ringos Desert could be seen on the horizon for months in advance. The Mind of a Genius artist’s presence in the dance music world is as carefully crafted as his music, with omissions and inclusions carrying equal weight. What the man of mystery wants seen, heard, and known, is exactly what is received.
First came rumors in the spring of literal tons of sand ready for transport to stops on Zhu’s impending “Dune” tour, and a mysterious phone number rigged for a secretive BLACKLIZT set deep in the Mojave. In the midst of it all were releases — high profile singles like the Tame Impala-assisted “My Life,” and “Coming Home,” with Majid Jordan. More music followed, with the lion’s share ending up on the producer’s Ringos Desert, Pt. 1 EP. Zhu’s sophomore full length effort has crept into fans’ peripherals for the better part of the year – so just how different does a full listen feel? That’s the funny thing about the wilderness: No matter how many dunes one passes on the way to its center, looking out from the middle of an ocean of sand is a different existence entirely.
Upon arrival, Ringos Desert makes it immediately clear that its identity as an invitation carried over to the track list itself. The LP contains a large amount of powerhouse collaborators — eight, to be exact — with each packing impact. From heavyweights like TOKiMONSTA to relative unknowns like Karnaval Blues, Zhu’s call to the desert seems to have drawn a crowd before the album ever reached fans’ ears. That spirit of openness can be felt in every joint effort, as TOKiMONSTA personally attested to when speaking of her album appearance on “Light It Up:”
“It was truly special how this song came together in that it is very much the result of both our minds,” she said of the track. “Collaborating with Zhu was creatively effortless. We both knew exactly where this song could go and we got it there. I can’t wait for the world to hear it.”
Every song is polished to absolute perfection, each sound given dedicated space to exist like modern art in an exhibit. Tucked into the songs is a cheeky dose of western sonic flavor that seasons the entire album. The high-noon shootout whistles and echoing crow calls on album opener “Stormy Love” are unapologetic pulp, but there are subtler instances at play as well. Twanging guitar lines ranging from full-on distorted wails (“Desert Woman”) to sad cowboy strums (“Ghost In My Bed”) permeate the project, giving a human touch counterbalance to the grooves’ ultra-cool polish. Through golden hour slow-burners and starry dance cuts, that layer of crackle and dust deepens the thematic experience, feeling deliberate without gimmick.
The body of work is upper echelon electronic music pure and simple. Only a handful of artists possess the kind of vision and polish to make a body of work this consistent, and at the same step out fearlessly to push creative genre boundaries. But where does this primal call to Ringos Desert lead? The album has always been an invitation — but to what? The material embodies an expansive array of feelings and experiences; love, drugs, sex, pain, loss, doubt, and almost everything in between. Repeated listens can immerse in the moment and just as easily transport through potent escapism. That power is no accident — after all, Zhu has beckoned the world to the dunes from the very beginning. To listen is to join him beneath the stars and sun and feel without distraction or interruption. If not all who wander are lost, Ringos Desert proves not all who are lost need saving.
There’s been no shortage of new ZHU teases from the enigmatic artist’s hotly anticipated second album. The hype has reached fever pitch with singles featuring top tier collaborators, including a genius link with Tame Impala‘s Kevin Parker for “My Life,” and a satin smooth joint effort with Majid Jordan, “Coming Home.” Now, ZHU has unveiled his master plan with a full track list, official cover art, and release date. Ringos Desert hits stores and streaming September 7 on his longtime home label, Mind of a Genius records.
The album’s 14 tracks include previously released singles, as well as material from ZHU’s spring EP,RINGOS DESERT PT. 1. Despite the track list’s heavy chunk of available material, the full experience promises plenty of future hits – including monster collaborators like Karnaval Blues and TOKIMONSTA. The same day his sophomore LP drops, ZHU will kick off his DUNE tour in El Ray, California. Can’t wait until September to hear the new LP? The “Working For It” producer has an ultra secret BLACKLIZT premiere party planned somewhere in the sands of the Mojave on August 31.
Slated to perform at Burning Man on August 31, ZHU will not only premiere his latest album offering at the festival, but will also host a Blacklizt Mojave set in Black Rock Desert, Burning Man’s longterm location.
The album will presumably arrive as the second part of ZHU’s Ringo’s Desert series. Whether ZHU will release the work on August 31 on all platforms, or will only debut the fresh material at Burning Man? Only time will tell.
Every year, fans can expect some wild performances at Burning Man, and this year proves to be no different. Leading the pack, we have Diplo and Flume plotting a special back-to-back set from the Playa this year. While Diplo will deliver several different sets during the course of the week-long event, he will notably appear alongside the Skin producer on August 31 for a 12:00 to 2:00am.
Diplo and Flume’s joint appearance won’t be the only exciting performance at Black Rock City this year. ZHU, Skrillex, Seven Lions and more will also take the decks at Burning Man, with Skrillex slowly revamping his presence on the events circuit as the year winds down. Skrillex recently appeared on the lineups for Arizona’s Snowta and Decadence festivals, and now he’s making his annual trip out to the burn. With people currently flocking to the Nevada desert for this year’s iteration of the event, expect a number of additional high profile artists to spring up at Burning Man too.
Earlier this year, ZHU and Tame Impala released “My Life,” one of the most anticipated and acclaimed collaborations of 2018. Looking to add even more intrigue to the psychedelic track, the artists have now released a stunning music video featuring none other than Willow Smith.
The video begins with Smith at the scene of a fatal car accident before flashing back to the story of her relationship with the victim. A picturesque tale of two romances unfolds, leading the timeline back to just moments before the crash.
The emotional video comes at the same time as an seven-track remix album for the heartfelt song, featuring Kyle Watson‘s dark house take on the collaboration. Artists like Just A Gent and KRANE each give the song an energetic electronic flair with their remixes, while Klangstof brings a subtle indie vibe into the mix. With a slew of remixes and a powerful video, this new-classic will have some serious staying power for years to come.
Back in April, ZHU made a sensuous return with the desert-tinged Ringos Desert Pt. 1. On top of the EP, the aloof and ambiguous artist announced he would be returning to the limelight with a DUNE Fall tour, a China tour, and even performed a riveting surprise set at Coachella. But throughout the entirety of these exciting new announcements, ZHU’s also been working away at his fashion brand, hoping to elevate its allure with exclusive, next level collections.
Just recently, at Lightning In A Bottle festival, ZHU fans had the chance to create original pieces during a special interactive design booth. With each sold out release, ZHU is coming closer and closer to a collision of festival culture and high fashion. His brand new SS18 Ringos Desert Collection was also debuted at LiB and can be found now in full here.
The high-powered remixes of Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa‘s smooth funk house jam, “One Kiss” are rolling in. After garnering more than 200 million Spotify plays since it’s initial release, bass house maestro Jauz put his dark and dangerous spin on the track, taking the pop/dance music crossover hit from the poolside club into the underground. Now ZHU catapults the track down into it’s deepest, darkest depths with pounding rhythms, sensual arpeggiated synths, and palpable house energy.
Fresh off the success of his Ringos Desert Pt. 1 EP release, Steven Zhu ups the ante with his official remix of “One Kiss,” likely one of the year’s most impressive dance cuts. Steeped heavily in ZHU’s signature ominous house stylings, the cloaked LA-producer transforms the bright, retro-inspired original into a dark, steamy composition that is yet another show of his truly cinematic skill in the studio. After dimming the lights on Lipa’s bubbling vocals, adding in some whispering falsettos of his own, ZHU continues to prove he is truly a musical auteur.
ZHU is never one to shy away from the darker side of music, and the LA maestro’s new music video wholly capitalizes on his moody, bleak aesthetic. Now the producer released a video accompaniment for “Still Want U” with Karnaval Blues, off his new album, Ringos DesertPt. 1, which landed in April.
The video, co-directed by Yero Brown and Steven Zhu, displays a dark doleful aesthetic that has all the visual elements of a neo noir film, with menacing themes, key lighting, and clean stage designs that perfectly match the mood of the track.
ZHU leads listeners out to the desert in new EP, Ringos Desert Pt. 1, a cross genre scorcher that heats up with each successive track, from the sultry, guitar assisted stunner, “Guilty Love,” to the low toned “Provocateur.” Tinged with the dark tones inherent of ZHU’s aesthetic, and overlaid with the producer’s signature breathy vocals, the seven tracks that comprise Ringos Desert Pt. 1 exude a sizzling sensuality that ZHU will soon take on his Fall headlining DUNE tour.
The 21-date initiative will see the versatile producer accompanied by brand new stage production, and his live band, both of which will collectively transcend the live electronic experience as listeners know it. Pre-sale tickets to the DUNE tour are currently available for purchase with the code “desertwoman.” Regular sale ticket sales will begin on Friday, April 27 at 12:00 PM EST. Tickets can be purchased here.
The first installment of a larger Ringos Desert production slated for a full release later in the year, Ringos Desert Pt. 1 suggests that ZHU is at the apex of dynamism.
ZHU’S DUNE TOUR, Phase 1 DATES:
September 07 – Chico, California @ El Rey Theatre
September 14 – Los Angeles, California @ The Shrine
September 16 – Phoenix, Arizona @ The Van Buren
September 18 – Dallas, Texas @ Bomb Factory
September 19 – Austin Texas @ Stubb's Waller Creek Amphitheatre
September 20 – Houston, Texas @ Warehouse Live
September 24 – Washington, D.C. @ Echostage
September 25 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania @ Electric Factory
September 27 – Brooklyn, New York @ Brooklyn Steel
September 30 – Boston, Massachusetts @ House of Blues
October 02 – Montreal, Quebec @ New City Gas
October 03 – Toronto, Ontario @ Rebel
October 09 – Minneapolis, Minnesota @ First Avenue
October 13 – Calgary, Alberta @ The Palace Theatre
October 15 – Vancouver, B.C. @ Vogue Theatre
October 16 – Seattle, Washington @ Paramount Ballroom
October 17 – Portland, Oregon @ Roseland Theater
October 20 – Las Vegas, Nevada @ The Pearl
October 22 – San Diego, California @ The Observatory North Park
October 23 – Tucson, Arizona @ Rialto Theatre
October 26 – Morrison, Colorado @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre