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In Conversation: Jauz

In Conversation: Jauz

Sam Vogel, better known by his DJing alias Jauz to his massive international fanbase, is known for his expert genre blending in not only his productions and remixes that have been known to go viral, but within his live sets across the globe - which sees him take on the likes of dubstep, house, drum and bass and bassline. While his sound is more than versatile, one thing remains consistent and that’s the quality of his sound. Based in LA but frequently hopping across the pond for various appearances and festival sets, we caught up with Jauz to talk about everything from his upcoming album The Wise And The Wicked to future dream collaborations ahead of a very busy August Bank Holiday weekend which saw the DJ and producer take to a slew of festivals in the UK…

Tell us a bit about who Jauz is for those who don’t know?

That’s always a tough question, I don’t ever know how to describe myself, I would probably make myself sound a lot less cool than other people might think I am, because I don’t really think I’m that cool, but er, I’m just a kid from California who is somehow sitting in Germany right now. Somehow I’ve managed to get myself all the way out to places like Germany to play electronic music at some crazy-ass festivals.

Drum and bass is making a big resurgence lately, why do you think that is?

To be completely honest, as an American, as an outsider of the UK, I’m not that ‘in the know’ as far as the resurgence of Drum and Bass. I love drum and bass, I play it in all my sets, but I’m just on the ground in places where it’s really making a shift, because in America, drum and bass is not a thing. It sucks. I try to do my part and make a difference and make that change, but the fact that is one of your first questions and that it is happening - that makes me really happy. My sets could always use more drum and bass?

So it not being a big genre in America, how are you going about making that change?

Every time I play a festival in America, on the main stage, I always try to play between five to ten minutes of drum and bass because nobody else is going to be playing it. A lot of people are scared to play drum and bass in America because they’re afraid people are going to think it sucks or they think people aren’t going to move, but the only way to influence people and get them involved and interested in drum and bass is to play it at the show. If you go and you’re watching artists X, Y and Z and they end up playing something you wouldn’t be listening to yourself, maybe at first when you hear it you won’t know how to move and you won’t know how to react but it kind of plants that seed in the fan’s head and maybe five months later they see that artist again and all they listen to now is drum and bass.

I saw that kind of thing happen the first time I went on tour, I did a bus tour for like two months, we did 35 shows or something like that and back then, I was only playing UK - what now would be considered bassline - like Lorenzo, My Nu Leng, shit like that. Other than my music, that’s mostly what I was playing, along with dubstep and whatever. No one at these shows was listening to that shit at all and so there were definitely times when the crowd didn’t react very well to those songs but then I would go back to those same cities like three or four months later and people would be like “I listen to this shit all day now, thank you for showing me it” and that’s the biggest compliment as a DJ, to be able to shift people’s tastes in music.

You’ve had quite the festival-filled summer this year, and I know you don’t have bank holidays in America but this weekend is a big one in the UK as it’s August Bank Holiday, the last long weekend of the year..

Don’t you guys have a bank holiday like every three months?! You guys get it pretty good. I come to the Uk quite a bit and it’s pretty much only for bank holidays. I’m here from anywhere between two to four times a year and I’m always here for a bank holiday, you guys are always off work! From an outsider perspective again but we don’t really get that in the states, the grass is always greener on the other side as they say but don’t take it for granted, is my point. I love coming here for bank holidays because the festivals are insane, the kids are insane, it’s one of my favourite weekends of the year.

So you’re at South West Four as well as Reading and Leeds - what can we expect from your festival sets?

And Creamfields! Tomorrow I do Reading and SW4 and then Sunday I do Creamfields and Leeds, so it’s going to be a busy couple of days!

You’ll need that bank holiday Monday off I think!

Yeah, but I fly straight home to get ready for the last of the states. To answer your question, though, Reading, Leeds, SW4 - I’m playing with Julian aka Slushii who is sitting next to me right now playing video games and Netsky, so obviously those shows are not going to be just Jauz shows, they’ll be plenty of my music but we’ve spent the last day and a half together - the three of us - trying to come together with a set that feels like all three of us are represented and also feels kind of different to what any of us would play outside of these sets. I think they’re going to be really special and they’re going to be really cool. And then Creamfields is one of my favourite festivals to play because they’re always nuts. I’m going to come with the heat as they would say.

How do you prep for your festival sets in general then? Is it always as planned as these ones with Slushii and Netsky or do you sometimes go in and just sense a feeling from the crowd?

It’s a little bit of both to be honest. I’m pretty meticulous about how I plan out my sets, if for whatever reason there’s shit going on, I like to know I can go from all the way from track number one all the way to track number 90 in order and it’s going to work. I like to have that cruise control as a backup, but I will also put enough songs in the playlist that I can sort of jump all over the place. So it’s the best of both worlds. For me I didn’t really grow up a DJ, I didn’t really grow up in a culture that had like an open format DJs and this thing, I was born in the 90s so although it was a big thing then I was definitely too young to really appreciate it, and I was also more of a rock n roll guy back in the day.

So I never really grew up with that, so for me, I’m more concerned in playing the best concert as the band that is Jauz, rather than reading a crowd or whatever. I’m there to do my thing and make my mark and be like “this is what I do” rather than just pleasing a crowd. But there’s a balance in there somewhere. Over the years, especially playing places like Vegas and Ibiza and learning how to really read a crowd, that is factored into my set a lot more now. For example, I’ll learn to play lots of different records in the UK than I would in the states, I know there’s stuff that works really well in the UK and in the States they’d have no idea about - and vice versa. Which is also kind of the best part, in that you get to change what you do but still keep it like it’s a Jauz set.

You mentioned that you have a background in rock music, obviously Reading and Leeds are primarily rock festivals, is there anybody on the lineups that you’re looking forward to seeing?

I’m not going to be able to catch anyone and it’s really, really upsetting.I literally have wanted to see Sum 41 play since I was about seven years old. I’ve never seen them, by the time I was old enough to go to a show they had stopped touring. I’m about to get really worked up about it so I’m going to try not to. But I remember about two years ago when I did Reading and Leeds there were so many sick bands on the lineup and I didn’t really get to catch many of them. That’s the biggest catch 22 of playing these festivals, it’s like you’re on a lineup with so many incredible people but at the same time you also normally don’t get to see any of them. It sucks, but it is what it is.

You’ve worked and collaborated with a lot of producers, what helps you decide on who to work with on a project?

I don’t know really, it’s always a sort of spur of the moment thing, but for the album to be fair, I had a list of who I thought would be cool to have a song with, and I think probably I out of the ten or twelve names that I listed there were probably only about two or three that ended up actually happening. It’s all very much “if it happens, it happens”, the record that I did with Tisoki, it’s called Babylon, that song wasn’t even supposed to be on the album and about a month out from it being finished we’d worked on it a couple of times and decided to put it out as a single after the album but then I listened to it a couple of times and I was like “Dude, this is supposed to be on the album” and now it’s the second song in on the entire album. It sets such a tone for the rest of the record - I could not imagine putting out the album without that song on it.

Do you have a dream collaboration in mind - is there anybody you’d really love to work with in the future?

Yeah there’s a bunch of people! I’d love to do a song with Calvin, I think he’s so cool, he’s such a cool dude. I’m just such a fan of all of his records, both before and now presently, I feel like everything he does is just awesome. I say this in like every interview ever but I’ll say it again, I’d love to do a track with Garrix, he’s a good buddy of mine and I’ve seen him working in the studio and he’s a monster.

The other thing I’ve been trying to figure out how to do is that I want to work with bands. Not necessarily big or famous bands per say, but the bands I grew up being a fan of and listening to because I grew up in the metal world, I’m talking super gnarly heavy metal, all the way up to more melodic, emotional stuff. There’s a lot of parallels between punk / pop punk / metal / heavy metal and rock with electronic music - I think there’s a way to blend the two. That’s what I what to get into, how to blend those two worlds and still make it sound like one of my songs. I play guitar and I know how to programme drums, I can basically play the band by myself and that’s what I’m trying to do for now, is like, imagine myself as a pop punk band AND myself as I’m almost collaborating with myself. Then I could bring those songs to those bands and say “look, we could do this”.

That’ll be quite an innovative production then…

In full admission, as I’ve been thinking about this, a couple of my buddies who’re in Slander, a DJ duo from the states, as well as my buddies Crankdat have just done a collaboration with Asking Alexandria, their song together is really cool and it blends the two worlds really well and I want to figure out how to do it on my terms. The songs that Slander and Crankdat write are going to sound completely different to if I tried to write a song like that. So I want to figure out what style of metal or rock or whatever will fit with the things I’m going to do electronically. I don’t just want to make some crazy ass heavy dubstep record with metal breakdowns because that doesn't feel like something I would do as Jauz. There’s a bit of exploring to do. I guess if I had to pick two metal bands that would be cool to work with, in that world would be - one of my favourite metal bands of all time is Bring Me The Horizon.

I don’t know why but I knew you were going to say that!

They’re the best, I’ve loved them since I was about fourteen. Actually my second favourite, or maybe they’re tied first favourite, are Architects from Brighton. Both of them as bands like watching them from when I was fourteen to now and seeing how their sound has progressed is so cool. Their some of the few bands that I still listen to every day now, as a full time music producer, touring and also as a guy that just sort of grew out of metal almost.

I fully support either of those collaborations! You’re releasing your debut album The Wise And The Wicked later on this year through your own label Bite This - what can listeners expect from this project?

Without trying to make it too wordy, because I’ll start going on a rant. To keep it short and sweet, the album is rally supposed to be hitting of the reset button on Jauz, and bringing it back to what my goal was with the project from day one, which was to have the ability to write all these different kinds of music and always keep kids guessing. When I first started the Jauz project I was putting out a record every two weeks and one week it was house music and the next it was dubstep, it was always something fresh and different and I’m not sure how many of my recent fans are really aware of that. A fan of mine now sees me at a festival over the last couple of years or listens to a release from the last couple of years and there’s the occasional dubstep record and the occasional future bass or trap remix here and there, but they’re thinking about the party. Everything I play is my mantra and if you aren’t cool with it then go somewhere else. If you’re a real fan - or more than that - just a real lover of music and can appreciate all of these different kinds of music inside of the electronic world then come along for the journey.

So post-album, What does the future hold for Jauz?

A lot! The album is just the seedling, I would say, it’s just sort of the foundation for this whole concept of The Wise and The Wicked that is going to evolve into so much more and I don’t want to give away too many details because what would be the fun in that? The album is the ground floor if we’re building a house, it’s just the rock foundation and there’s a long way to go from there. Which is really exciting as an artist, especially in 2019 - 2018 it’s almost 2019, whatever - everything is so fast now, and it’s really hard to see past the next couple of months and to now have this “I know what I’m going to do with myself” or at least have a general feel of where I want to end up in two, three, four, five years is really empowering.

Thank you for your time, really hope you have a lovely weekend and get to enjoy yourself!

I’ll be alright! Thank you!

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In Conversation: Jauz

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