One of the most sought-after electronic music artists and producers has died. France's Philippe 'Zdar' Cerboneschi worked with musicians like Kanye West, Daft Punk, the Beastie Boys, Pharrell Williams and the band Phoenix. The Grammy winner accidentally fell through a window of a building in Paris last night; his death was confirmed by his agent, Tom Nettleton. He was 52 years old.
Growing up in the French resort town of Aix-Les-Bains, where his parents ran a hotel, Cerboneschi learned how to produce music from the ground up. From an early age, he dreamed of moving to Paris and working in the music business; as he told Red Bull Music Academy in a 2004 interview, he found a job as a "tea boy" at a big studio when he was about 20 — making beverages, emptying ashtrays and the like. From there, he worked his way up, first as a sound engineer and mixer, before moving on to DJ work.
In the early 1990s, Cerboneschi became one of the fathers of the French house scene, as half of the duo Motorbass with Étienne de Crécy; they released one album, 1996's Pansoul. But two years later, he joined forces with Boom Bass — born Hubert Blanc-Fracard — and the two formed the influential French Touch duo Cassius, working both as producers and on their own material.
Their collaborators included the French rapper MC Solaar, Pharrell Williams, Hot Chip, Cat Power, Daft Punk, the Beastie Boys and Phoenix; in 2010, Zdar earned a Grammy Award for his work producing and engineering Phoenix' album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.
Cassius' latest album, Dreems, is being released this Friday; Zdar had also been scheduled to perform this Sunday in New York City at the popular SummerStage series in Central Park, as part of an all-French lineup.