ZHU, a DJ and producer, embarked on a road trip with his bandmates during the early stages of the pandemic, recording his new album in remote locations along the way. Born in isolation and influenced by the beauty of these landscapes, his new album ‘DREAMLAND 2021’ is an epic evocation of that era.
Zhu’s music has always had an elemental feel to it. Metal, fire, and ice are all evoked by the tracks, which hit hard and heat up before settling into a low simmer. It’s an enticing combination that has elevated Zhu to one of the most compelling artists on the scene since his breakout track “Faded” in 2014. Now, the producer born Steve Zhu returns with Dreamland 2021, his third album – and first in over a year.
Much of the album, which is out on Astralwerks and features collaborators such as Channel Tres and Tinashe, was conceived and recorded during the pandemic, providing Zhu with ample time to work on the project’s dual-hard and sinewy productions — and to seek inspiration in unexpected places. As a result, the LP builds on his signature chic, sleek, heavy, and frequently heady late-night vibes, fusing house and techno with funk, hip-hop, and spatial, jammy guitars. All of which are brought together by Zhu’s own eerie falsetto.
While the majority of the project was created in Los Angeles, inspiration came from far beyond Zhu’s hometown. Throughout quarantine, he traveled to rural Montana, Utah, and Colorado, where he was inspired to write several of the album’s dozen tracks by the “icy, sonic landscapes that existed there.”
Zhu will headline a six-night run (dubbed Dreamrocks) at Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheater in May, followed by festival appearances at Miami’s III Points and San Francisco’s Outsidelands in October.