Although the song itself varies from person to person, it’s rare to meet someone who doesn’t have a song, album, or artist that holds a special place in their heart because of the connection they have to the music. One song that comes to mind for rising singer/songwriter and producer Jeremy Zucker is “Hotel Andrea” by Blackbear, a track he heard in high school that he says grabbed his heart and revealed an array of feelings to him that he didn’t previously know were there. This feeling, Zucker tells us, is one that he strives to create for both himself and others with his music, and is notably present on his latest EP, Summer.
“I wanted people to walk away with some sort of feeling that they’re not alone,” says Zucker of the five-track EP. He notes that he doesn’t frequently write songs with the intent of making a statement, but instead to express the current state of his mind and feelings towards the world. Considering each of his songs “an important piece of a larger body of work that fans can resonate with on a personal level,” if people can listen to these tracks and see themselves reflected in the feelings laid out on them, then Zucker’s goal has essentially been accomplished. With Summer in particular, the singer plays around with the idea of an endless summer now that he has graduated from college and can pivot to a full-time focus on music free from distraction. While this may be a situation specific to him, when generalized it can apply to many forms of transitions in life, especially as a young adult.
On “Firefly” and “Selfish,” listeners are brought into the atmosphere of a need for release from what’s familiar, and what is bound to end with hard feelings. For many, this isn’t unfamiliar territory. These two tracks feature Zucker’s characteristic, carefully timed production, affluent with pop elements paired strategically with unexpected instrumental experimentations. The EP’s lead track, “comethru” embodies the weight of such a major transition, with lyrics like “I’m trying to realize / It’s alright to not be fine on your own.” We feel this same energy in a slightly distorted context on “thinking 2 much,” Zucker’s highly anticipated collaboration with EDEN.
“I don’t think it was the collaboration a lot of people were expecting,” says Jeremy, “It’s not like we sat in a room and made a song together.” EDEN’s verse was a remnant of a previous project that was pushed to the side for a while before he realized that it fit perfectly on “thinking 2 much,” which was essentially already finished when the verse was sent over. Jeremy said of the track, “I knew that it would work really well if he was just a part of it somehow.” While it may not have been what many were expecting, it’s hard to imagine a collaboration that would have better infused the notable qualities of both artists. “thinking 2 much” marks the second time Zucker has had the opportunity of releasing a song to the world that was created with the help of one of the three influential artists who inspired him to make music in the first place, the first time having been “talk is overrated” with Blackbear.
A chance to work on a collaboration with Jon Bellion, a musical jack of all trades, is still on Jeremy’s ultimate goal list–but he isn’t in any rush to make it happen. “I don’t do a lot of collaborations,” he states, saying “If I know that I want someone to help out vocally or writing wise, I know based on how the project feels which artists that would be.” The various creative directions of Zucker’s projects are very time sensitive in the way that they rely heavily on what’s going on in his mind at a particular point in time. It’s possible that there may be times that a collaboration, like the one Jeremy is itching to do with indie pop duo Oh Wonder, would be an incredible experience, but it wouldn’t necessarily always fit into the mold of that specific project.
Zucker treats each track on his projects as an investment, sometimes working on the same song for twelve hours a day for days at a time to assure that everything from melodies to structure to lyrics are the best that they can be. “When you’re producing your own music, there are literally unlimited options for what you can do, and it can be overwhelming,” says Jeremy, “I think it works in your benefit if you’re just absurdly picky.” For this same reason, Jeremy isn’t the type of artist to create an abundance of tracks only to have a number of them never see the light of day. Instead, he decides early on in the process whether or not a song is a good fit for him, and if not it may be pushed to the side before too much time has been spent on it.
What started off as an eight-minute long voice memo of a guitar riff paired with various melodies and lyrical ideas went on to become “Desire,” one of the most momentous tracks on Summer. Opting for a non-traditional song structure, the track was constructed in parts by pulling from a number of intriguing sections and piecing them together. “I borrowed a melody from an earlier part of the song, then turned it into a build-up and augmented the end of it,” Zucker said, “I listened to a lot of punk-rock growing up, and it gave me that feeling.”
Jeremy compared the process of making “Desire” to “putting together a two-thousand-piece puzzle.” This is a formula that he follows frequently in his creative process, saying, “I work really hard on the puzzle pieces to make sure they’re sculpted perfectly–the foundations, and the melodies, all of these different parts. It all comes down to how it all fits together.”
The sounds of Jeremy’s projects are influenced most heavily by the production styles that stuck out to him most in the moment. “It’s very much natural and how I’m feeling,” he says. “It’s not ‘I’m going to make a pop/disco whatever.’ I make it how I feel, that way I don’t have to force it into some kind of category.” By creating in this way, the elements of the songs end up sounding cohesive because they were all made within the same circumstances and influences within that period of his life. This chunking of time periods plays a large part in the singer’s choice to release EPs composed of a handful of tracks throughout the years rather than a full-length project.
When it comes to making EPs, Jeremy says it may take two to three months to successfully craft a conceptual component and the songs that would revolve around that concept. That being said, he may be holding off on a full-length album for a little while. “When I make an album, it’s going to take me a very long time to put it all together,” he said, “It’s going to be very intentional and direct, and have its own feeling.” As of right now, his fan base is growing exponentially. By staggering EP releases over the course of a few months, he has managed to remain in touch with fans and keep them engaged with the music. Feeling as though this is a good position to be in, Jeremy says that he isn’t “quite ready yet to go off the grid and go into album mode.”
Jeremy is being careful about the course of his career for the sake of both the quality of his work and the reception of fans. And if an entirely sold out headlining tour is any indication, there’s no need to rush. The singer’s anything, anywhere tour kicked off just a few weeks ago, the first night of the tour making a special connection with him as he mentions how surreal it feels to have a room full of people in Chapel Hill, North Carolina singing the lyrics he wrote in his Colorado basement back to him. Apart from this being his first proper headlining tour, it’s also the first time he’s offered a meet and greet ticket package to fans. “Every city we go to there’s like 25-30 people so excited to see me and talk about how the music has affected them,” Zucker says. “It’s just a really wild feeling, and I don’t always know how to process it. I wish I could appreciate it more, it’s just so hectic.”
Realizing that within his endless summer there are no time limits or boundaries on his creativity, and with so much already accomplished in just three years of releasing his music to the world, Zucker has learned to look at his future in music strategically. He’s taking his time to make sure that everything he puts out is up to par with his own expectations, as well as the expectations of the multitude of people throwing their support behind him, and in time we’ll see why this is the smartest and most beneficial course of action for him to take.