The high life, high fashion, and high society move to the music of Zen Freeman.
The London-born and Los Angeles-based DJ, artist, producer, and entrepreneur artfully adds a touch of refinement to his immersive sets, hypnotic and head-nodding original productions, and dynamic portfolio of ventures. Whether curating music for Gucci and Vogue, soundtracking events for The Academy® Awards and Jeff Bezos, or unveiling songs of his own with legends such as Macy Gray, he seamlessly adapts to any setting.
“It’s about being aware of what’s going on, watching the room, and responding to that,” he says. “By doing so, you end up taking the audience on a musical journey.”
Growing up in London, Zen obsessed over music and fashion in equal measure, picking up his first set of turntables and unlocking a world of possibility. As a teen, he worked at an upscale retailer by day, while he spent his nights in the embrace of London’s storied club and underground party scene. Describing himself as “a trainspotter,” he studied the craft as a member of the crowd. “I’d listen to Sasha mixing and make mental notes of what songs he mixed together and for how long, then I’d go home and figure it out,” he recalls.
Touching down in Los Angeles during 2001, he immersed himself in the city, observing Mark Ronson and the late DJ AM with reverence and respect. At the same time, he clung to a personal level of sophistication. “Back then, L.A. was the land of ripped jeans and hip-hop, and I only wore skinny suits and played electronica and house music when I moved here, ” he laughs.
After DJ-ing one of the hottest Golden Globes® parties in Los Angeles, he quietly emerged as an in-demand musical presence and a pioneer for the global metropolitan club scene. Prada, Chanel, Luis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani, and Vanity Fair sought out his curation, while Cartier, Burberry, Louis XIII, and Soho House enlisted him as a music supervisor. Hundreds of exclusive parties followed with events for the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Elton John, and Elon Musk everywhere from Sundance Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival to Cannes Film Festival. At the same time, he headlined solo residencies at Hakkasan, Wet Republic, XS Nightclub, and Encore Beach Club. He effectively established himself as the first luxury DJ to tour worldwide and grace the stages of festivals on multiple continents.
Building up a catalog of original compositions, Zen has generated millions of streams, collaborated with Fred Falke, Todd Edwards, Mr. Hudson, Rufus Wainwright, Ten Ven, Latroit, and dropped tracks on Defected & Azuli Records, TMRW Music, Rising Music, Armada Music, and Fly Eye Recordings. Not to mention, he’s attracted the support of Calvin Harris, Diplo, David Guetta, Fedde Le Grand, Bob Sinclair, and more. In 2021, he continues to sharpen his signature style with his next single “Make Me Free” [feat. Macy Gray]. Powered by live bass, retro synthesizers, and nineties drum machines, it nods to turn-of-the-century French house with a straightforward, yet unshakable groove.
“It’s a future retro track,” Zen goes on. “It incorporates all of the elements that are close to my heart.”
At the same time, he extends his influence in lifestyle. Zen entered into an alliance with legendary Studio 54 co-founder Ian Schrager as the exclusive nightlife partner for Sunset at EDITION. Zen advised the art direction, aesthetic, state-of-the-art sound system and all-around vibe of this coveted hotspot. He also joined forces with Daft Punk creative director Cédric Hervet and Nicolas Hervet to launch a luxury line of custom furniture and decorative objects: Hervet Manufacturier.
“The concept is our vision of a perfect world, projected in an undetermined future time,” he remarks. “For me, it’s exciting to dive into a different business altogether.”
In the end, Zen leaves an inimitable imprint on everything he does.
“When you make music, it’s printed forever,” he leaves off. “At the same time, I love the instant gratification of DJ-ing. I’ve been so lucky to be able to see the whole world and play at amazing parties. I’m excited for the next step, getting deeper into designing experiences beyond music. Progression is always exciting and inspiring.”