Zdar died in 2019 after he suffered an accidental fall from a rooftop in Paris. He was 52 years old.
Speaking to NME for this week’s Big Read cover story, the band reflected on their creative relationship with Zdar, paying tribute to the music industry legend and French house pioneer.
“He was joy and chaos; a whirlwind,” frontman Thomas Mars said. “A producer that you dream of working with. I’m sure that any band that worked with Phillippe came out of it stronger. You can not split after you work with Philippe: he’s a great producer and therapist.”
While Zdar did not officially work on every album that Phoenix have released so far, when he wasn’t mixing or producing their records, he offered the band advice. Despite his death, they told NME that his presence could still be felt during the sessions.
“He was here in a way, more than ever on this album,” guitarist Christian Mazzalai said. “The first song we wrote for the album, ‘Identical’ [first released in 2020 for Sofia Coppola’s On The Rocks], was written just days after he passed. From the beginning to the end, it was impossible to not feel Philippe.”
Elsewhere in the Big Read, the band discussed the making of their upcoming new album ‘Alpha Zulu’, which was recorded at Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs in the Palais du Louvre. They also spoke of their kinship with Vampire Weekend, whose frontman Ezra Koenig features on the single ‘Tonight’.
Phoenix recently performed that track on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Koenig was not in the studio for the appearance, with his part handled by a synchronised video that appeared to be the same footage used in the track’s music video.
‘Alpha Zulu’, the band’s seventh album and the follow-up to 2017’s ‘Ti Amo’, will be released on November 4. The group are currently on tour in North America, and will head to the UK and Europe in November.