Philippe Cerboneschi “Zdar”, Cassius co-founder and iconic French producer of records by Phoenix, Chromeo, Franz Ferdinand, Cat Power and more, has passed away at 50. His agent Sébastien Farran told the press: “He accidentally fell through the window” of a Parisian hotel, without further details.
Since 1996, Philippe “Zdar” and Hubert “Boom Bass“ Blanc-Francard were Cassius, an essential act of the French electronic scene since their first album 1999 released the same year, which mixed hip-hop, house and funk music. The duo released three other studio albums over two decades: the powerful Au Rêve(2002), the rockish 15 Again (2006) and the tropical Ibifornia (2016).
Sad but true, their new album, Dreems, will be coming out tomorrow, Friday 21 June, the “Fête de la Musique” (Day of Music) in France. Indeed, the whole situation really feels like a tragedy for the electronic music scene as a whole. Philippe “Zdar” made us discover and love music, with heart and soul.
Originally from Aix-les-Bains (Savoie, France), Philippe “Zdar” was formerly singer in a punk band, as well as a speed metal drummer. After falling in love and owe with an Eurythmics photo in the studio of the Palais des Congrès, he decided to do everything he could to find the same magic through his music.
A match made in (house) heaven
In the early 1980s, he became assistant to the legendary Studio Marcadet‘s sound engineer (fun fact: he was enrolled notably because he knew how to roll joints for the staff at the time). This experience allowed him to work alongside Serge Gainsbourg, Etienne Daho and Vanessa Paradis, aka some of the most popular artists of their generation in France. One day, one of his collaborators – and star artistic director – Dominique Blanc-Francard introduced Philippe to his son, Hubert “Boom Bass“. Both immediately became friends. The rest, as they say, is history.
Together, they worked on the instrumental background of a song by a young newcomer rapper, MC Solaar. The song, Bouge de Là, will become the first hit of French hip-hop ever. Later, Philippe and Hubert kept on producing the tracks for Solaar albums, but also their own futuristic tracks, released under the stage name La Funk Mob. He also released the album Pansoul, a pioneering work of the French House movement, back in 1996 with the legendary producer Etienne de Crécy. Just like Air or Daft Punk, Philippe “Zdar” was becoming an icon for his generation, but also for the international radiance of the “French Touch”.
Producing for the best
In parallel with Cassius, Philippe “Zdar” was the owner of a recording studio in Montmartre and led, since the 2000s, an impressive career as an Artistic Director. He was awarded a Grammy Award in 2010 as the mixer and producer of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, the best-selling (and amazing) album from Phoenix. He also collaborated with various artists, such as the Beastie Boys, The Rapture, Cat Power, Chromeo, M, Two Door Cinema Club, Franz Ferdinand and Kanye West, infusing his love for rock, hip-hop and electronic music to their songwriting.
May we never forget
Cassius was supposed to perform this Friday at the beautiful Buttes-Chaumont park in Paris. We truly hope people will be celebrating Philippe “Zdar” everywhere for years by dancing to his unforgettable anthems. Our thoughts go out to his family and numerous friends.
Thank you for the passion. Rest in Power, you will be missed.