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Philippe Cerboneschi Zdar, Cassius

Cassius’ Philippe Zdar has died age 50

The influential producer died following an accidental fall

French producer, DJ, and musical pioneer Philippe Zdar has died following an accidental fall from a building in Paris on Wednesday (June 19). His agent Sebastien Farran has confirmed his death at 50-years-old. 

Born Philippe Cerboneschi, he was best known as one half of Cassius, alongside Hubert Blanc-Francard, who formed the duo in 1996 and established themselves as purveyors of the French Touch scene and Paris club circuit alongside peers like Daft Punk and Air, later joining the revered Edbanger label. The duo’s first album in three years, titled Dreems, is due for release Friday June 21. 

Before Cassius, Zdar created Motorbass with Etienne de Crécy, releasing one album, Pansoul, in 1996, celebrated as a gamechanging record for French dance music.

Zdar also produced for a range of artists and gained worldwide recognition as a stellar producer for the likes of Phoenix, Kanye West, Hot Chip, Cat Power, and Beastie Boys. He received a Grammy for best alterative music album for his work on Phoenix’s 2009 breakout LP Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Zdar was celebrated for his jubilant sounds and ability to meld rock and electronic music.

Tributes have been streaming in for Zdar across social media – DJ and producer The Black Madonna described him as “a visionary and tectonic force who shaped the geography of modern dance music”. DJ and artist Calvin Harris shared one of the act’s biggest hits, “Cassius 1999”, with the caption: “What an unbelievably lovely man with an incredible legacy. I was mesmerized by this record as a 15-year-old.” 

“Devastated to hear about Philipe Zdar,” added Leon Vynehall, “a man whose dedication to the processes and creativity of his and others' music & art are unparalleled and influential… what a tragedy. A genuinely lovely and talented human being gone.”

As the BBC reports, Zdar told Le Monde that he quit his job as a waiter to pursue music after seeing a picture of British band Eurythmics recording in a Paris studio in the 80s – he then decided he wanted to “to find this magic”. When he landed a job in a music studio, he worked with the likes of Serge Gainsbourg and Vanessa Paradis. It was after working with director Dominique Blanc-Francard that got him acquainted with Hubert, Blanc-Francard’s son – the duo then went on to form one of the most important groups in dance music.

Our thoughts and love go out to Zdar’s family and friends at this time.