In a world of plastic pop and plastic-sounding music, US-based producer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist ZHAO stands out a mile.
Born to Chinese immigrants in Tennessee, ZHAO grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta before moving to Los Angeles, where he is now based.
Next week, ZHAO will release his stunningly inventive ‘Ride’ EP and we’ve got the video premiere for ‘Ride’; a rasping cut of psychedelic-tinged R&B that’s laced with swinging basslines, chatty percussion and Zhao’s pitch-perfect delivery.
“I guess in the most succinct terms its 80s-inspired synth pop, with a strong emphasis on lyrics,” explains ZHAO on his unique sound. “My personal journey with music is defined by removing limitations — teaching myself different instruments, different styles, and how to configure them on a stage. I enjoy all music, so naturally, all music makes its way into my sound.”
Though inspired by the likes of Outkast, Gorillaz, Beck, and Tame Impala, it’s ultimately ZHAO’s keen ear for Chopin and Beethoven that informs his strong phrasing, songwriting, and harmonic elements — all qualities still grounded in his early love for those Romantic-era composers.
Be sure to check out the excellent ‘Lifetime’ below, too.
Zhao’s ‘Ride’ is out October 27.