Fresh Kicks 119: Ziúr
Weaving polyrhythmic electronic drums and heady bass into multi-layered club tracks and atmospheric rap vocals, Planet Mu's Ziúr shakes up the Fresh Kicks series
When she was a teenager, one of Ziúr’s favourite bands was L7, the proto-riot grrrl group with a caustic sense of humour and melody. Growing up as a punk, she was gradually put off by the aesthetic clichés and socio-political insularities of the scene. She moved to Berlin in the mid-’00s and never looked back.
In Berlin, Ziúr runs BOO HOO, an ad-hoc party that prioritises queer people of colour, both in the booth and on the dance floor. After releasing two solo EPs in 2016 – ‘Taiga’, on Infinite Machine, and ‘Deeform’, on Objects Limited, showcasing her tactile, multi-layered approach to contemporary experimental club music – Ziúr began working with Planet Mu, who have released two of her albums, 2017’s ‘U Feel Anything?’ and 2019’s ‘ATØ’, which is due for release this November.
As a DJ and producer, Ziúr’s knack for blending almost aggressive musical elements into soaring electronic melodies and vocalisations has become her signature. When she’s behind the decks, you’re as likely to hear a Nicki Minaj vocal pulled through the wringer, and teased out over caustic jungle breaks, as a thumping techno beat with vogue crashes and skittering vocal samples. The caustic sense of humour and melody that she loved a young punk is still an influence.
Over the last three years, though, her productions have been tenderised somewhat: drawing from pop song writing and different vocal collaborations, rich strings and R&B melodies bloom among cold metallic drums and techno bleeps. Among her sounds more abrasive elements, there’s beauty and tenderness, and a willingness to engage with the contemporary realities of life dealing with gender inequality.
Her forthcoming album ‘ATØ’ is, in her own words, devoted to “all people who struggle finding a place in this world, who are having trouble being respected AND celebrated for who they are. For everyone, who is part of resisting the status quo, for all survivors, outcasts, and weirdos. For people who fight for their existence, every day.”
What’s the last track that fell in love with and why?
MC Yallah X Debmaster – ‘Teba Kuda Mabega’. The instrumentation and vocals bang so hard that I can’t resist. An ultimate banger!
What’s the last film that you watched, and what did you think of it?
Frogs, which was directed by Martin Kohout. It’s one of the short films that I curated for the cinema section at my record release party. I thought it was quite funny, but I don’t know if Martin felt the same way.
What was the last DJ set you saw that blew your mind, and why?
Scratcha DVA at Berghain, for the Hyperdub anniversary, really did it for me. I was very tired by the time he played but this one kept me afloat. I loved how different elements, spheres, and structures went in and out of the set – it almost had a meditative appeal to it, reminding me of the tide or something. It was all paired with precise, punchy drum – a combination to remember.
What’s your favourite album to relax to, and why?
I rarely listen to music these days, and if I do, 95% of the time it’s chill vibes by default. Sade usually wins, but this new Carl Gari & Abdullah Miniawy album on the Whities label is so fantastically moody. It feels like winter.
Who’s your favourite producer right now, and why?
There’s never just one favourite, but I really love Zilla’s remix of Still’s ‘Shikorina’ – its twists, turns, and rhythmical playfulness. There’s not too much of Zilla’s work out there yet, so I’m curious about what comes next, but this one was definitely one of the last few productions that really flipped a switch in my brain.
What record is currently at the top of your wish list, and why?
Let me be cheeky but, if the rumours are true, I can’t wait for Rihanna’s reggae album to come out.
What’s the best club you’ve ever played at, and why?
There’s no such thing as a perfect club, so I have a few angles to this. It’s always connected to a certain night and its mood, the choice of tracks, and the occasion. Possibly my favourite DJ moment of all times was playing at Zhao Dai in Beijing. I had a track loaded, and I had no idea what kind of impact this would have on the audience. It was a Chinese pop song that everybody knew and, as soon as I hit the play button, the club turned into one, gigantic hug, with everyone singing along. I was blown away by that moment – I’ll never forget it!
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