Shawn Zod: The Music Man

Model and DJ Shawn Zod takes stock of an unexpected career that sees him working his angles in glossy magazines and hyping up the crowd at high-octane gigs.

Shawn Zod

Navy blue chequered suit, BRUNELLO CUCINELLI.


Uzbekistan-born Dj and model Shawn Zod has been captivated by music from a young age. But though music coursed through his veins and into his heart, walking the path of a musician was something he had never considered before, seeing as none of his family members were involved in music in any way. Growing up, Shawn assumed he would work in business. Little did he know that music would eventually find its way back to him to shape him into the person he is today.

As a child, Shawn was the kid in school who got along with everyone. He had no trouble socialising, which explains his bubbly and friendly personality. When asked what he was like in school, he replied with a cheeky smile, “I wasn’t that good, but I wasn’t bad either.”

Shawn has come a long way from when he first arrived in Malaysia, working as a part-time barista before being approached by an agent. He was offered a modelling job, having no idea that it would be the start of an amazing career.

Shawn Zod

Matching knit sweater zipper jacket; pants; and rainbow sneakers, all from SALVATORE FERRAGAMO

Blessed with charming looks, a cheeky smile, fierce eyes and an incredible ability to work his angles, when it comes to striking poses Shawn is a natural. The second the photographer clicks the first shutter button, Shawn envisions entering a different dimension where the universe is only him and the camera lens as he works towards creating the perfect shot.

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And it was through modelling that Shawn came to the realisation that music was his destiny. While in Jakarta for a shoot, he met some musician friends at a party, and was introduced to one of the region’s biggest DJs who he eventually became friends with. From there, he learned the ins and outs of the music industry and was introduced to the elite music scene, which he fell in love with. At that point, he knew that he wanted to pursue music, that his heart and soul belonged on the stage.

As he is wont to do, Shawn worked hard to hone his skills to become the talented DJ that he is today. Shawn is drawn to DJ-ing due to the fact that it is more of a one-man show. The thought of having all eyes on him for an entire set gives him an adrenaline rush that he enjoys and inspires him to perform so that he can show the audience a side of himself that only comes alive when he’s on stage.

Shawn makes a comparison between DJ-ing and cooking. “If I wasn’t a DJ today, I would’ve liked to become a chef cooking in a Japanese restaurant as to me, it is the same concept using different skills” shares Shawn Zod. In his opinion, becoming a DJ is no different than becoming a sushi chef. Preparing a dish in front of people and having to deliver at that critical moment, where failing or succeeding is entirely dependent on your own performance and the audience’s reaction.

Shawn Zod

Rigg black leather biker jacket; Hermosa grey shirt; and Cigarette skinny jeans, all from ALLSAINTS.

When Shawn is on stage, he begins by maintaining his cool and collected demeanour before jumping around and hyping up the crowd. A regular audience might think, “Well, he seems so confident, surely he isn’t terrified.” Little do they know, a lot more goes through this talented young man’s head when he performs. The amount of confidence that he projects is too good that it masks the mountain of anxiety he feels before performing. His heart would be pounding out of his chest and there would be inside voices telling him things that could go wrong but once he steps into the stage light and seeps the energy, all of it fades away.

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He mentions how difficult it is for some DJs because they lack the ability to create an environment in which everyone would be listening and flowing along the same beat and rhythm. That, however, is not a problem for Shawn. In fact, he is quite certain that he is very good at hyping an audience. When he’s on stage, his focus shifts to super zoom mode in which he pays attention to every detail and reaction. He would watch the audience’s movements to determine when to start creating a vibe and moving with them as one. If everyone is moving and dancing, he knows he’s done his job and that everyone is having a good time.

Regarding plans for the future, Shawn wants to keep making amazing music since it makes him happy, not just for his listeners but also for himself. He responds, “Travelling is a DJ’s job,” when questioned about his travelling plans. He travels all over the world to perform at festivals, live shows, events, and concerts. Shawn is also not entirely opposed to the idea of a collaboration, though he states that his focus at the moment is to make great music. But if another talented artist or newcomer proposes a collab, he’d definitely consider it the opportunity.

Shawn Zod

Grey sweater; black leather jacket and; ash brown pants, all from BOSS. Shoes, models own.

Off stage, Shawn loves to relax with a good book. He shares that his favourite book of all time is Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life. Shawn also attends regular Muay Thai training, a passion he picked up about a year ago shortly after Malaysia’s lockdown. He believes that sports “helps you to train your mind away from work.” To our surprise, Shawn reveals that he also enjoys painting. With a job as outgoing as his, Shawn’s down time begins when he sits down, grabs a paintbrush, and treats his empty canvas as a way to express himself. Bob Ross is his favourite artist—you can see how he incorporates Bob Ross’s painting style into his own work.

Shawn Zod

Lilac suit MSGM Man.

If there is a lesson to be learned from his career, Shawn wants his fans to know that they should never give up. He believes that if you are truly passionate about something, even if you don’t have the basic knowledge for it, you can master it with the right amount of effort and dedication. He believes that “everything is based on your own mindset and mentality, and that if you don’t trust or believe in yourself, nothing will work in your favour.”

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Digital director & coordinator : Lira Jamaluddin

Text by Fareena Wasi, Additional text by Abdul Aziz Draim.

Styling & art direction by Muzammin Muzlan.

Photography by Robin Yong.

Hair & make-up: Clara Siew

Assisted by: Janice Teh, Hazim Ashraf & Fareena Wasi