DJ, producer, professor… is there anything DJ Zebo doesn’t do?
With 15 years of history in the music business, DJ Zebo is still making new waves in the music industry after being recognized as one of Newcity Magazine’s Top 45 Musical Artists in Chicago. “It’s nice that after all the time, I can still get recognition from people and show them what I do,” Zebo said. Fellow Chicago artists Kanye West and The Smashing Pumpkins also made the list.
Chicago’s rich musical history has been the inspiration for many artists, and Zebo is one of them. Using the city as an inspiration, Zebo is able to connect with locals while also opening Chicago up to new audiences. Taking part in one of Chicago’s biggest music festivals, Zebo played on Friday during Lollapalooza on the PlayStation stage. “I try to push a little Chicago flavor, especially at a place like Lolla where a lot of people want to come in and experience Chicago,” he said.
Besides playing sets at both of Chicago’s big music festivals—Lollapalooza and Northcoast Music Festival—Zebo was recently asked to be resident DJ at Wicker Park hotspot, The Mid. But ask him to define his style, and you get one simple answer. “I just play good music. I try to just find different styles of music,” he said. “I think that’s part of what makes me successful is being able to do a bunch of different styles and play a wider range of events.”
From weddings to high-energy club parties, Zebo has pretty much done it all. But there’s a lot more to Zebo that playing music, he also teaches. With such a deep knowledge of music, Zebo has a unique opportunity to share his passion with others. Students at Columbia College get the chance to learn from the master of the mixer in their two-part DJ class. And the learning goes both ways. “There are kids that show me cool new things all the time. It’s not just them coming in and learning from me, I learn from them too,” he said. “I’m getting older and older every day. It’s just nice to have a way to keep in touch with that market, especially the underground and emergent college kids.”
Experimenting with new styles and new talent is just one of many things that has kept Zebo inspired to create music. “You always give people songs that they know to make it fun but you try to incorporate some new stuff,” he said. His biggest inspiration, though, comes from everyday people pursuing what they love. “Kids that really get into new stuff and go out and aren’t just there to be at the party, I think they inspire me more than artists that I play.”