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How Jeremy Zucker Is Helping a Generation Embrace Their Inner Sadboi

How Jeremy Zucker Is Helping a Generation Embrace Their Inner Sadboi

The singer-songwriter talks CRUSHER, love is not dying, the power of sad music, and a certain Disney movie. 

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In theory, listening to sad music should make you sadder. For Jeremy Zucker – and many of his fans – it's self-care.

"When I listen to sad music and I'm feeling sad, it makes me feel less alone," the singer-songwriter tells PRIDE. "So it does make me feel better. When I have a connection with a song, when I'm going through something difficult, it gives me a lot more context and understanding and yeah, I feel comforted."

Zucker's music has that effect. The 25-year-old dropped his second studio album CRUSHER at the beginning of this month, the follow-up to his debut record Love Is Not Dying, released at the beginning of a certain pandemic. For many Jerms (what I just decided his fans are called), Zucker's music has been a soundtrack for the melancholy, intense self-reflection, and moving on.

Both albums circle around a toxic relationship with Zucker's volatile ex-girlfriend. While LIND is a bit softer in breaking things off with a struggling addict, CRUSHER is an angry kiss-off to a chronic manipulator.

"Love Is Not Dying, had this perspective of a lot of sympathy and a lot of empathy," Zucker reflects. "The album is really sad because I'm really feeling for this person and there's a lot of understanding and forgiveness in there." Since expelling all that energy, he "had a lot of time to reflect on the situation that I was in once I was out of it and I realized I was disillusioned. I had been manipulated in that setting. And once I started talking to my friends about it, I realized how different the situation was than I thought. This is somebody very flagrantly manipulating me and using me. It really crushed me in the process, and that's where the title comes from."

Introspection and vulnerability pour out of the vastness Zucker creates in a song, tinged with 2000s pop-punk guitar riffs, beautifully-odd production choices, and quiet percussion. Take CRUSHER's fourth track, "I can't look at you", where he can hardly stand to be in his ex's presence for anticipation of being lied to.  Zucker adapts an almost Drake-like flow in the second verse, singing, "I let friends go, I made enemies/But never like this, now you're dead to me/I blocked your cellphone and your handle/I think it's over, I think you're cancelled."

Perhaps it's that honesty that has quietly amassed so many LGBTQ+ fans. Based on my own research amongst friends, every gay who loves Jeremy Zucker was once obsessed with Disney's 2002 animated space adventure Treasure Planet, in which Joseph Gordon Levitt plays Jim, an angsty-yet-clever outcast with an undercut, one pierced ear, and pronounced daddy issues. I can't speak on correlation versus causation here, but there's certainly a connection.

Zucker, an LGBTQ+ ally who has he/him and they/them pronouns in his social media profiles, laughs when I tell him this. "Wow. Wait, you said it's Disney?" he asks, having never seen the movie. "I'm going to check it out."

The connection could also be that "emotional maturity and emotional intelligence in men are super rare," and as gays, many of us relate to Zucker's fine-toothed self-examination and awareness to others. He echoes a sentiment I've thought to myself time and time again. "I just feel like men are trash all around," he says, "and I say that as if I'm an exception. I like to think I am because I feel like I'm emotionally mature-er than most men my age, but yeah, I think men are trash." We all contain multitudes, and Zucker isn't afraid to embrace the mess.

Queer folks can certainly relate. 

Since he couldn't tour his debut album love is not dying in 2020, fans can expect to hear both bodies of work and more on his CRUSHER tour. Singing Zucker's music along with a massive crowd will hit different than listening to these albums alone in our bedrooms, when we couldn't leave them. Get ready to grab on tight to your neighbors for a good group cry. 

Jeremy Zucker is on tour now. Watch our full interview below:

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Taylor Henderson

Taylor Henderson is a PRIDE.com contributor. This proud Texas Bama studied Media Production/Studies and Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin, where he developed his passions for pop culture, writing, and videography. He's absolutely obsessed with Beyoncé, mangoes, and cheesy YA novels that allow him to vicariously experience the teen years he spent in the closet. He's also writing one! 

Taylor Henderson is a PRIDE.com contributor. This proud Texas Bama studied Media Production/Studies and Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin, where he developed his passions for pop culture, writing, and videography. He's absolutely obsessed with Beyoncé, mangoes, and cheesy YA novels that allow him to vicariously experience the teen years he spent in the closet. He's also writing one!