Chances are, your first experience with a Jeremy Zucker song starts off easy: A mellow tune found in a carefully curated “chill out” playlist, likely along the lines of their popular 2018 song “Comethru.” In my case, it was this.
But much in the tradition of sophomore albums and artists’ need to reinvent, Jeremy’s upcoming record “Crusher” is a far leap from their first. Marked by unfettered anger and a more roaring sound, its musicality and overall look are a direct response to their 2020 debut “Love is Not Dying.” If its older sibling was a bit more morose in tone and lyrics thanks to themes of heartbreak, “Crusher” is coming to terms with that—and getting furious at the process, like a musical “to hell with it.”
“I felt like a little lost after [‘Love is Not Dying’]. It took me a while to figure out who I was and what I stood for. When you get wrapped up in relationships, like going through a breakup, it’s really easy to lose yourself when you have really strong feelings. ‘Crusher’ is finding myself again,” Jeremy explained during a recent press con.
“‘Crusher’ is the realization that I was blatantly mistreated. There’s a lot of anger on the project because of that. The first handful of songs I wrote are just—I hate to say ‘mean,’ but music is emotion, right? I wasn’t writing it to get revenge. It’s an expression of anger that isn’t intended to hurt anyone,” they added.
Nonetheless, they called it their “most intense album” to date, which they consider “emotionally and sonically” the “peak” of their career. While loud anger is a blatant topic that’s hardly a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sort of deal, “Crusher” is a kaleidoscope of feelings, with 12 tracks comprising of jumbled eclectic sounds and emotions. The album, according to the musician, is Jeremy at its most real, and it came about after a series of introspective moments with themself, as well as with their closest peers.
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“The reason we’re all here is [because of] connection and relationships. Happiness is only real when it’s shared,” they said. “I’m starting to prioritize connections and friendships when you don’t get to really see people. I didn’t experience that many new things. But I think that’s why it’s coming across as more mature, because I’ve spent more time marinating, analyzing, and learning from things instead of writing about them right after they happen when emotions are really raw.”
The reinvention of Jeremy Zucker
As their second album, “Crusher” is something different altogether. While they did leave little bits and pieces of their past self (They consider the track “Deep End” as the “perfect mix” of old them, “Love is Not Dying” them, and “Crusher” them), it’s still a big change, of sorts.
“I didn’t want to fully reinvent myself, but I didn’t want to keep doing the same thing. My music taste was changing a lot and so was my life. They came out different because we also live in a very different time than we did two years ago,” they said.
And while it might alienate fans of their old stuff, Jeremy thinks that change is always necessary, especially when it comes to artists.
“People always say, ‘Oh, I miss the old Kanye.’ If Kanye made another one of his classic albums, then that second one wouldn’t be a classic album.”
From their more quiet music came noise, a prominent motif in “Crusher,” whether it’s the sound, the lyrics, the imagery, or the name of their North American tour aptly named “More Noise!!!!”. But to them, it isn’t really their take on the industry, where loud is sometimes thought of as better.
“I don’t believe in the rat race mentality where everyone’s trying to scream over each other because what are [they] even saying at that point? When everyone’s screaming, you got to whisper to make everyone listen to you.”
“I don’t like the idea of competing for noise or for attention. The industry is very saturated and everyone feels like they have to make a lot of noise to get noticed, and I really try not to do that. That’s not really my motivation for all the energy in the volume, it’s more of just self-expression,” they said. “I don’t believe in the rat race mentality where everyone’s trying to scream over each other because what are [they] even saying at that point? When everyone’s screaming, you got to whisper to make everyone listen to you.”
Taking on feelings (still)
Despite the big changes, what ties it all together as a Jeremy Zucker track are raw feelings in lyrics, which many view as something relatable. Take their 2018 track “All The Kids Are Depressed,” a personal song echoing their and their friends’ situation during college, now made into a Gen Z mental health anthem for some. That might be the case now, but they didn’t seek it when writing the track.
“As selfish as it sounds, I’m writing music for myself. I think the second I try to write music for someone else for someone that I don’t know, it comes across as almost insincere or preachy,” they said.
“The first handful of songs I wrote are just—I hate to say ‘mean,’ but music is emotion, right? I wasn’t writing it to get revenge. It’s an expression of anger that isn’t intended to hurt anyone.”
“I think it just goes to show how similar everyone is and all these things that we all go through, even though we couldn’t imagine someone else going through a similar thing or feeling the same way. I am making music now knowing that, but I’m still making it in the same way. I’m writing it for me, but I’m releasing it for them.”
As they reinvent themself while sticking to their core beliefs at the same time, their listeners are kept on their toes. What will a Jeremy Zucker record be like next? That’s only for them to know, but now, we have “Crusher” on our horizon, in all its eclectic, angry, and very real glory.
“Crusher” is slated for release on Oct. 1. Pre-save the album here.
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Photography by Stefan Kohli