Jeremy Zucker’s music just hit a million total plays.
His most recent track, “Paradise,” has received nearly 10 thousand views in its first day.
His songs fit under several categories: pop, R&B, new wave, and hip-hop. But Zucker prefers to experiment with a range of different sounds and says that the diversity of his personal influences makes it hard to categorize into one specific genre.
Zucker began his musical career at the age of four with piano. However, from the beginning, he wanted to move away from piano to the guitar, which he finally did when he was eight.
“I was so happy to drop piano,” Zucker says, “and I immediately started writing songs.”
At first, this just meant changing the lyrics to Blink-182 songs. Eventually, he began sketching out his own chords and lyrics onto loose sheets of paper. He describes them as “barely making sense. They were childish but they were fun.”
By third grade, he was in his first band with his two best friends. They performed an original, “Altitude.” The song took inspiration from Zucker’s brother, who was afraid of heights.
After some middle school experience with rap and GarageBand, things started to get serious. Zucker began to write songs for an acoustic rock band, and won their local Battle of the Bands. With the money they received, they invested in some equipment. Their success attracted attention from a local independent producer who offered to bring them into the studio for free. Unfortunately, the final product had a “pop-y,” overworked sound to it. Zucker decided he could do better on his own.
With some basic production knowledge under his belt, Zucker decided to produce a very simple song for his band. “Everyone loved it,” he said. “So I kept doing that.” It got to the point where Zucker drifted away from the band and began to create music on his own and with his friend, Daniel James.
The entire experience culminated in Zucker’s realization that he didn’t need anyone else to guide his music. Through James’ online presence on Vine, Zucker began to build up a fan base.
After spending the summer with his friends lifeguarding and making music, Zucker released his first music video. Immediately, “Pick It Up” was spread around by his friends.
Since then, Zucker has been focused on putting out as much music as possible while still sounding professional without the professional resources.
In November 2015, Zucker decided to drop a new song each week. Every Sunday, he would release a new song: five in total. Each song received more and more recognition than the previous. By the end of the month, his SoundCloud following had jumped from 200 to 3000 and music blogs began to take notice.
The last song of this series, “Bout It,” gained the most attention. The spread was completely organic – it now has over 221,000 plays on SoundCloud. The most amazing feeling, Zucker says, was when he started getting texts and snaps from friends at different schools who were hearing Zucker’s music playing at parties.
“I never start with lyrics,” Zucker states. “I’m a sucker for chords and melodies.”
He likes to begin his production process by finding an utterly unique sound. From there, he says, he builds it piece by piece, focusing on making each subsequent part as good as it can be. For inspiration, he turns to his personal life.
“I write things that are hard to explain well,” Zucker describes. “Instead of explaining a topic or emotion, I’ll make my lyrics revolve around that singular feeling. It’s the stuff I don’t talk to people about on a surface level.”
“My friends give me shit for this,” he adds. “I wish most of them weren’t just about girls, but they are.”
When asked about what experiences at CC have impacted his music, Zucker’s response was immediate: “This is a big one. Clay Edwards. He goes under the rap moniker Cisco the Nomad. He is an extremely talented, creative person, an insane lyricist. We’re polar opposites when it comes to making music. My creative process is very calculated and precise and his is very crazy, creative, ‘let’s do this.’ It’s against my being, but working with him has helped me get out of my box.”
Zucker’s time at CC has also forced him to become more socially aware. Now, whenever he’s in the middle of writing a new piece, the culture at CC encourages him to think about how people will interpret his lyrics, socially and otherwise. The platform also allows him to consider how he may be able to push people to think differently.
“What I love about producing,” Zucker says, “is that it’s 100 percent creative freedom and the skill it comes with is articulating what you imagine. But there’s always going to be a discrepancy between how you think it will sound and how it actually sounds.”
While Zucker would love to pursue his music professionally and full-time, the music industry isn’t stable enough, which poses a major dilemma for him. Ideally, he sees himself writing songs for big artists, and hopes to plan a mini college tour.
His advice to other musicians is: “Don’t stop until you’re content.”