HEAT RISING: Toronto producer Zodiac seems poised to shed the “ex-Weeknd” label with a promising year ahead

by Aaron Zorgel

April 3, 2013

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Producers are an integral part of music creation, but so few of these sonic gurus get the recognition they deserve. HEAT RISING looks at the best beats by an up-and-coming producer, and talks about where they’re from (ROOTS), what they’ve done (RESUME), and why they’re an exciting presence in music today (REASONS TO WATCH).

ROOTS: For better or worse, it’s impossible to talk about Jeremy Rose, professionally known as Zodiac, without discussing his relationship with The Weeknd. A year ago, Vice published an interview with Rose speaking out on his troubled creative relationship with Abel Tesfaye, revealing the fact that the project was once more of a partnership (that he laid the framework for) before creative differences came between the pair. Rose acknowledges the fact that the article was a blessing and a curse — Zodiac is “recognized now, but at the same time [he's] recognized for only one thing.” While it’s true that you can’t discuss Zodiac without touching on his role in the rise, and his departure from The Weeknd, Rose seems poised to eclipse the “ex-Weeknd producer” label on the strength of his minimal, ethereal sonic experimentation.

23-year-old Jeremy Rose was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but relocated to the small town of Chatham, Ontario with his family at the age of ten. Rose didn’t start to experiment with music production until he moved to Toronto in his twenties. In an interview with AUX, Rose admits that his first compositions ended up appearing on House Of Balloons, though he’s spent the last two years building towards something bigger.

RESUME: Around the same time as The Weeknd was prepping the release of House Of Balloons, Zodiac was working with San Francisco-based hip-hop duo The Jealous Guys. Zodiac’s atmospheric, stretched-out samples and heartsick synth work is featured on all four tracks on The Jealous Guys’ excellent 2011 EP Audiobook.

REASONS TO WATCH: After the dust settled from Zodiac’s falling out with The Weeknd, he set straight to work on his debut self-titled solo EP, a five song collection prepared for Jacques Greene’s label Vase. Zodiac EP shows a marked evolution in Rose’s output, especially on “Come,” a haunting but subtle song that comes off far more ambitious, compared to any of his House Of Balloons productions. It’s an album highlight that features vocals from Chicago-born R&B singer Jesse Boykins III, making it clear that Abel was not necessarily the secret ingredient to Zodiac’s sound.

In late 2012, Zodiac was tapped by famed British music producer Paul Epworth (Adele, Azealia Banks, Florence & The Machine) for a songwriting and production gig with Epworth’s imprint Wolf Tone. This gives him the opportunity to learn from one of the most renowned active producers in music today, as well as access to equipment, studios, and artists that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. If we start to hear some of his Epworth-assisted output in 2013, it could be a big year for Zodiac — one that could see him diversify his production discography, and finally escape the “ex-Weeknd guy” contextualization.

Tags: Music, Featured, News, HEAT RISING, The Weeknd

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