Hot from completing a tour of the U.S. with co-producer Bingo Players, Zookëper now serves up an intensifying new release ‘Be Just Fine’ featuring Leonelle in his Perfect Havoc debut.
U.S. heavyweight producer Zookëper has been on a roll of late. He recently appeared on Spinnin’ Records alongside EDM don Bingo Players with the disco-infused ‘Do What You Like’, which was a huge hit on their ‘Bingo Beach’ club tour of the States.
Hot from making his label debut on London independent Perfect Havoc with the dynamic deep house single ‘Be Just Fine’, we caught up with the two-time Billboard Top 10 artist to talk production, working with Maarten Hoogstraten aka Bingo Players and his early years playing in punk bands.
Hi Zookëper, thanks for chatting to us. How you doing?
I’m good, thanks. Currently on a plane from LA to Denver for a show and I haven’t eaten anything besides a fig Newton bar today so I feel like I’m on the brink of passing out but honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.
Nice new single just landed on Perfect Havoc. Tell us about that – where did the ideas come from? And how did you come to work with Leonelle?
So ‘Be Just Fine’ started as a vocal demo that one of my managers found and sent to my email. I produced the track, and we needed to replace the original vocalist for reasons that I can’t remember. Serendipitously, my roommate had her friend over that day (Leonelle), and she was playing me some demos she was working on, and I thought her voice would sound great on the track. So, she came over a couple days later and we recorded it in my bedroom studio.
You’ve just been on tour in the U.S. with EDM don Bingo Players. What was it like returning to clubland? Which gigs stood out?
It was awesome. Bingo Players and his crew are some of my favorite people to hang with, so we had an absolute blast. All the shows were great, but we had a really fun time in Houston at a new club called Decorum. That would be the standout for me on that run.
Yourself and Bingo Players also recently dropped ‘Do You Think About Me’ on Spinnin – what a tune. What’s Maarten like to work with? Is he fun to be on tour with? You looked like you had a right laugh!
Maarten is incredible to work with. He’s so well-versed in production, and I’ve learned a ton from him since we’ve become friends. We both have a soft spot for old synth sounds, so it was really easy to work on the song. He’s also insanely fast, so I feel like every time I would send something his way, I would wake up the next morning with a new version in my inbox. As far as touring, yea we have a great time on the road whenever we do shows together. I’m slowly learning a couple words in Dutch which helps too.
Take us back to the beginning. How did you get into music and when did you get your first break?
My parents were both really into classic rock, so there were always guitars around my house for as long as I can remember. In high school I played drums in punk bands, and that was my intro to shows and touring. I ended up playing guitar in a band that had a record deal and I toured with them, so that was my intro to doing it full time. Then around 2012 I started doing remixes for fun after getting really into Justice and all the bloghaus stuff from Hype Machine.
What motivates you to make music?
Honestly the biggest thing for me is the energy at shows. I’m not the type of producer who loves being locked in a room by himself all the time. I love being out, socializing, traveling, and soaking in the energy of a packed room with music that’s loud as fuck. So, when I make tracks now, I try to envision the environment in which I’d like to play that song. Don’t get me wrong, I love some vibey melodic music too, but coming out of a pandemic, all I want is a big, in-person experience.
Which track are you most proud of and why?
I still love my remix of ‘House Party’ by Captain Cuts and The Knocks. It just feels so good to me when I play it in my sets. That one will always be there.
We hear you’re big into skateboarding and skate culture. What’s the flashiest move you can perform? Have you ever broken any bones?!
I grew up skating, yeah. But I’m terrible now. I can still roll around and do ollies and stuff but it’s nothing to brag about. I used to skate big staircases and somehow never broke a bone doing that. The worst skate injury I had was a broken toe from accidentally kicking a curb doing a 50-50. I really wish I had a more dramatic story.
What 3 tracks can people expect to hear you playing out for the rest of the year?
I have a new club tune called Obsession that has been going off recently so definitely one. And I love the Oing edit of Shouse – Love Tonight. And I’ve been playing Haddaway – What Is Love
Thanks so much for your time.
Zookëper ‘Be Just Fine (Feat. Leonelle)’ is out now on Perfect Havoc
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