Interview: Jeremy Zucker Enters A “Wholesome and Self-Aware” Era

Jeremy Zucker explores a new “wholesome and self-aware” era with his latest single ‘I’m So Happy’. 
Photo: Joel Lim/ZYRUP Magazine

All the kids were depressed having waited nearly a year since Jeremy Zucker’s last album, CRUSHER. But they had much reason to rejoice last September as he released his latest single, ‘I’m So Happy’. For fans in Singapore, we also had the acclaimed MORE NOISE !!!! WORLD TOUR to shout about. 

Zucker is a rising star in the music industry, and for good reason. He boasts a unique style that blends pop, indie, and electronic influences to create a sound that is both catchy and emotive. One of the things that makes Zucker so relatable is his honest and open lyrics. He writes about love, heartbreak, and the struggles of growing up in a way that resonates especially with the TikTok generation. His songs are the perfect soundtrack to the ups and downs of everyday life, and they have a way of making you feel like you’re not alone in your experiences.

Zucker’s latest single, ‘I’m so Happy’, has been warmly received by fans and critics alike. The song is upbeat and catchy, with a chorus that is sure to get stuck in your head. While coming across as a breezy, feel-good song, its lyrics pack a punch (“I’m so glad to know you won’t be here to fuck with my mood/No bullshit to argue, I don’t hold a thing against you”). New Zealand singer-songwriter BENEE lends her vocals to the song as well, complementing Zucker’s smooth vocals perfectly.

The team at ZYRUP Magazine got the opportunity to catch up with him when he was in Singapore, and we discussed his new single and more. 

Photo: Joel Lim/ZYRUP Magazine

ZYRUP Magazine: Congratulations on the release of your latest single ‘I’m So Happy’. It is your first single since your last album, Crusher. Does this single mark a new era for you?
Jeremy Zucker: I would say, “Yeah”! It bookmarks the new beginning of a new era. CRUSHER was a very upbeat, angry, rockstar thing which I had so much fun doing and I’m really happy with the way that it turned out. Moving forward, I’m looking forward to sort of experimenting with new things, but still calling upon my older sort of chill vibe.

What era is this if you were to name it?
I would say it’s like, really wholesome and self-aware.

You actually directed and edited the music video to ‘I’m So Happy’ yourself. Why do you choose to be so involved in the process?
The real answer is just that I’m really picky and really specific. This is kind of what got me into producing music for myself as well. I just didn’t really trust anyone to do it for me, wanting things to be a certain way. I always edit my music videos myself, even if it’s a different director, and even if there’s already an editor hired, I’ll be like, “Send me the file, I need it”. Even though it takes me a lot of time, it saves me time because I hate having to go back and forth with other people and being like, do this, do that. Instead I can just be in my room on my computer and do that in five minutes.

When we look at your repertoire of music, we see that you do a lot of collaboration with other artists as well. With collaboration, sometimes there comes a need to compromise, or the need to make sure that the collaboration creates magic and not have any clash of conflict. How do you balance that out?
I mean, it’s not just collaborations in a sense where it’s “Jeremy Zucker and this artist”. There’s a lot of collaboration behind the scenes with the songwriting and the production. It’s part of making art when you work with someone. Even though it comes out under my name, I still really like to respect what they bring into it. I’m generally an open-minded person, so I really do value other people’s opinions a lot. And that’s what gets me into trouble because my truest work has come from me not listening to anybody, and it’s come from me being alone in my room making music like doing weird things into the microphone.

Now, you’ve obviously collaborated with so many different people. There’s Chelsea Cutler, Tate McRae, blackbear and of course, BENEE in the latest one. Are they any specific qualities or attributes you look for in collaborators, and how does one get themselves on a Jeremy Zucker song?
The way that it normally happens is that I’ll have written a song that I can really hear somebody on, and so I’ll just hit them up. That’s how it tends to happen. In rare cases, like with Alexander 23 for the song we did together, ‘Nothing’s the Same’, we were just hanging out and wrote a song, and it just worked really well for the both of us. I need to get in a room with artists more and be like, “Hey, let’s hang out and try to write a song for us and let’s see what happens.” I get so wrapped up in my own things but I’ve been producing for many other artists lately, and I’m finding that part of it is really interesting because I go into the room knowing that I’m not singing on it. Or if I am, people are not going to know it’s me, and so it’s like my ego’s removed and I’m like, “Let’s make this a great song for you.”

You’re here for your MORE NOISE !!!! WORLD TOUR. What can fans expect from your show?
More noise (laughs)! We named that on purpose because the last time I did a show here was before my debut album, so I’ve released 25-30 songs since the last time I came on tour, which is crazy. The last time it was a little bit of a party, but it was just me and a drummer. It wasn’t like a full band, and I was still very early on in learning how to be a performer. This time around, we really put in a lot of effort and thought and we’ve played hundreds of shows since then, so we’re really warmed up and really ready. So, I guess the set has a lot of really loud and intense rock star moments but there are also really, really gentle and soft, beautiful and sad moments. I’d like to say that we enhanced the dynamics of the records.

You said that you reach out to people for collaborations. How does a Jeremy Zucker pitch look like? How do you convince people?
It really depends. There is a calibre of artists that I almost feel embarrassed to reach out to directly because they just wouldn’t answer. So with that, I’ll see if I have any personal connections, like if I have really good mutual friends which if I try hard enough, I can really figure that out.

Was there ever one that got you excited when they said yes?
Yeah, like back in the day, it was blackbear for me. He was like my favourite artist at the time so hearing his voice on my songs was just the craziest and coolest thing ever. Since then, I haven’t really had like an idol on one of my songs. I don’t really think about it that much because I’m so focused on making what I personally do better, and I don’t want to bring somebody else in whom I really respect until I’m at their level.

To put you on the spot right now, who will be your dream collaborator? 
Someone asked me the other day they asked, “Would you rather be featured on a song with Frank Ocean or with Harry Styles?” At first, I was like, Frank Ocean! That is my childhood dream. I have so much love and so much respect for his work, but then I feel like his fans would fucking hate me. I feel like his fans are so snobby. I’m a huge fan, but I feel like he’s in such another calibre of artistry. He’s a genius and people have him on an altar, and I’m just a kid figuring this out. So then I was thinking Harry Styles. He is massive, I have a lot of respect for him and his music is amazing, and I think his fans would really like me. So it’s Harry Styles. 

In the pop culture sphere, we’re all obsessed with the multiverse right now. As we were researching you, we found out that you have a degree in biology. If you were to meet the other version of Jeremy, the one who’s a doctor, how do you think the interaction will go about?
J: I really hope he’s okay. I think if I did the science route and became a doctor, the “me” now would not be happy because I’ve seen this whole other world, and I’ve grown so much as a person, with whatever the thing that set me off in this direction making me a more creative person, and sort of saying fuck it with life and doing whatever I want. If that first thing that sort of set me off on that course never happened to me, then maybe I’d be like, “great,” but then I’d just be sort of a cookie-cutter of the neighbourhood that I grew up in. I wouldn’t have as much individuality and maybe I wouldn’t like myself as much and maybe I would be a lot less self-aware for better or for worse.

We’ve come out of Covid-19, and it’s a new chapter for us. How do you think that has impacted you as an artist and what can fans look forward to in the future?
I had to do a lot of musical soul searching during the pandemic because I had planned to tour after finishing my first album, to get the reaction to it and have that come full circle, but I never got that closure. After another album, I just spilled my whole soul into this other one and that took a lot of time and energy to get to a point where I felt like I could achieve that. So it really had me approaching music in a different way, and I had to learn how to not get down on myself. When you’re an artist creating something over and over and over again, you can only do it so many times until you start doing the same thing a lot. And since I never wanna do the same thing twice, I would get down on myself if I wasn’t doing what I felt like I should be doing. You got to go easy on yourself and put yourself in your comfort zone and that’s what I learnt during the pandemic.

‘I’m So Happy’ is available for streaming on all digital platforms, including Spotify.

Article written by Afikah Azlan. Original interview by Joel Lim.