Philippe Zdar, a member of French electronic duo Cassius and a prominent producer, has died, Pitchfork reports and his management confirmed to Rolling Stone. He was 52. His management said in a statement to Rolling Stone that the musician died after a tragic “accident at his home in Paris” on Wednesday night.
Born Philippe Cerboneschi, he and his longtime musical partner Boom Bass (given name Hubert Blanc-Francard) first began releasing tracks under the moniker La Funk Mob in the mid-Nineties before landing on the name that would earn them dance music fame. Alongside groups like Daft Punk and Air, Cassius was part of a French house scene that emerged in the late-Nineties and continued to grow in popularity after the turn of the millennium.
The group’s music would go on to influence an array of producers and DJs who would take up the mantle in the EDM era, and many paid their respects to Zdar on social media following the news of his passing.
“Sad awakening here,” wrote David Guetta. “I just heard Philippe Zdar from @CASSIUSOFFICIAL passed away. I can’t stop remembering amazing parties we had all together. All my loving to your family, BoomBass and Pedro. RIP.”
Calvin Harris shared a link to Cassius’ first official single, “Cassius 1999,” writing, “Awful news about Phillipe Zdar, what an unbelievably lovely man with an incredible legacy. I was mesmerized by this record as a 15-year-old.”
But Cassius’ influence stretched beyond the realm of dance music. Musician and former Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij, said, “Philippe Zdar was such a huge inspiration. I remember spending weeks mastering [Vampire Weekend’s] ‘Unbelievers’ — putting it up against Phoenix’s ‘1901’ as the benchmark of an incredible mix — nothing could touch it. We had to mix it over and over again just to get close.”
Zdar and Blanc-Francard began working together in the late-Eighties and formed their first outfit, La Funk Mob, in 1991. In 1996, the duo released their first song as Cassius, “Foxxy,” which led to remix projects with artists like Air. That same year, Zdar continued to hone his sound with Étienne de Crécy as the duo Motorbass, which released their one and only album, Pansoul.
In January 1999, Cassius notched their first mainstream hit with “Cassius 1999,” a Top 10 song in the U.K. and on the U.S. Dance charts. The group’s debut album, 1999, arrived that same year and included other club favorites like “Feeling for You” and “La Mouche.”
Cassius’ second LP, Au Rêve arrived in 2002 as the French house that had dominated electronic music was beginning to cede to other movements. The record included a track (“Thrilla”) featuring Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah, while “The Sound of Violence,” featuring British house singer Steve Edwards, became Cassius’ first and only song to top the U.S. Dance charts.
Following the release of 2006’s 15 Again, Cassius didn’t release another album until a decade later when they dropped 2016’s Ibifornia. In the interim, Zdar, who also owned Paris recording studio Motorbass, worked as a producer, engineer and mixer on a number of projects, including Chromeo’s Fancy Footwork, Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and the Rapture’s In the Grace of Your Love.
For Ibifornia, the duo paired with Beastie Boys’ Mike D and Cat Power for “Action,” and Cat Power also appeared on Cassius’ “Feel Like Me” and “Go Up,” which also features Pharrell Williams. Zdar had previously worked with Cat Power on her 2012 Sun album.