This article originally appeared in the October issue of AUX Magazine. Download and subscribe for iPhone and iPad for free in the App Store.
Zodiac, a.k.a Jeremy Rose, is a perfectionist, so you can imagine his heart-wrenched work after partly producing one of the most critically lauded electronic albums of our time, the Weeknd’s R&B-tinged House of Balloons, yet receiving zero credit for it.
Over a year later, the Toronto producer will not speak of the fallout or possible legal ramifications of the spat that saw him part ways with Weeknd singer Tesfay Abel. As any good electronic producer would, Rose is thinking the future. Zodiac just released his debut EP, and, to his surprise, will fly to London, England, this month to work with Paul Epworth (Grammy-winnning British producer for Adele, Cee Lo Green, and Bloc Party, among others).
“The Weeknd was the very beginning of me doing any kind of work,” says 24-year-old Rose. “I don’t want to be recognized only for that. I want to build, do new things, and I think I’m getting a lot better.”
Rose was the first to have “this idea for a dark R&B project” according to his much-buzzed-about interview for VICE, and dissecting the Zodiac EP—released this month via Jacques Greene’s hyped Montreal label, Vase —you can’t deny his embrace of the dark side. Just listen to standout track “Come,” featuring Chicago soul singer Jesse Boykins III.
“I know my stuff sounds sad, but that’s how I write,” says the admittedly shy homebody. “But at the same time I try to make it sound pretty.”
Though much of Zodiac’s work is instrumental, Epworth has sought Rose to add his texture alongside vocals from three yet-to-be-named singers with backgrounds in rock and electronica.
“I enjoy textural sounds,” he says. “I really like the sound of water, crackling fire; it grounds the digital production. I don’t work with real instruments, so it can sound fake really easily, so when I was younger I found that was a way to ground it, to basically insert nature sounds.”
As Rose heads to England stocked only with Ableton on a three-hundred-dollar laptop, he’s not sure what to expect, other than to be pushed outside his comfort zone.
“I find it very hard to work in front of someone,” Rose admits. “I’m the man behind the curtain—I don’t want them to see how much fucking trouble I go through just to get a single song out, or all the bad stuff I have to go through before I get something good. It’s like, ‘Don’t look! I’ll have it done, just go away for a little bit. Like, several weeks.”