In conversation with JAUZ ahead of ‘The Wise & the Wicked’ album launch
Interview by Arnold van der Walt
JAUZ has been taking over the electronic music scene since 2015 with his signature hard hitting bass style. The LA-based Icon Collective graduate is known for his energetic live shows and has since worked with DJ Snake, Skrillex, Krewella, Snails, Slushii, Zeds Dead and Kiarra just to name a few. His videos have more than 40 million views on Youtube and on Spotify it’s skyrocketed past the 70 million mark.
The 25-year old Sam Vogel will be releasing his debut album soon, in what is probably one of the most anticipated debut albums of the year. ‘The Wise and the Wicked’ is a concept album which include genres from all over the EDM sphere. From the bass-house of ‘In The Zone’, techno in ‘Acid or Techno’, dubstep in ‘Babylon’ and drum ‘n bass in ‘Fade’, there’s not a single genre JAUZ doesn’t effortlessly glide into. The album is split up in separate chapters, each detailing a different side of humanity; the wise and the wicked. The final stretch of this 23-track album is titled ‘United’ and it’s where JAUZ lets loose, all working towards the hard hitting rave track ‘Super Fly’ to finish it all off.
‘The Wise and the Wicked’ is set to be one of the best electronic albums of the year. Not only does the album feature collaborations from heavyweights like DJ Snake and Krewella, but also features a lot of newcomers like HYPRESSION and fabrice.
JAUZ’s debut album, ‘The Wise and the Wicked’ will be released on 31 August via his own label, Bite This. Pre-order it here.
We had an in-depth conversation with JAUZ just before Reading and Leeds, Creamfields and SW4 Festivals about ‘The Wise & the Wicked’, working with bedroom producers and why you shouldn’t limit yourself to a single genre.
You’re currently in Europe for a series of shows alongside Netsky and Slushii at a couple of pretty big festivals. How has the tour been going?
It’s been fun, I did a couple of shows last week and it’s always great to bring my music to new people from different countries.
When you’re producing a song, what comes first, the sound or the idea?
I mean, it’s always different, ya know? I would say most of the time what happens is I have an idea for a song that I wanna write, and then I try doing that and then it doesn’t work and then in the process of writing that song, or trying to make it work, I’ll open up some random synth preset or find a sample and that will be the spark of creativity.
I’ve never really sat out to make a song and have the idea in my head and have it come to fruition. It’s almost always just these random moments.
To kinda tie it into the album, I was working on a completely separate track and I just happened to find that synth used in ‘In The Zone Ft. Example’ that went like weeeooorrggh and I was like “oh man it almost sounds like an elephant” and then I just heard the drop in my head so I stopped what I was doing, opened up a new project, brought in that sound and wrote out the idea. I ended up writing that instead of what I was supposed to be doing. Hehe, but it worked out.
You’ve played all over the world on some of the biggest stages like ULTRA, Tomorrowland, Hard Summer and EDC; but what’s been the most memorable? Which one would you say had the biggest impact in your career?
I feel like it’s hard to answer this question without saying Hard Summer 2015. I’ve played a lot of incredible festivals around the world and it’s really hard to put them all in a scale to be rated against one another…
Hard Summer 2015 was the first festival I really ever did. I played main stage at 15h00, all my best friends from San Francisco flew down to see it. That was the first moment when I wasn’t just some random bedroom producer. Even being on tour before that, it still didn’t sink in on the Borgore tour (even though it was incredible and it was my friends and family’s first real experience of my sound). So the seeing me on my first proper and real stage at Hard Summer was surreal. Even for a set at 15h00 in the afternoon while it being more than a hundred degrees in the sun, about 15 000 kids were there, to this day it’s still one of the craziest crowds I’ve ever played for.
All the stars just aligned that day. I have a feeling that it will probably go down as one of the best sets I’ve ever done, even when I’m tired and grey. If not the top 3 moments of my career.
Okay, let’s get into your debut album that’s being released in a couple of days, ‘The Wise and The Wicked’. This 23-track concept album is stunningly diverse with a sound for every type of fan. It incorporates so many different types of genres; more pop-inspired future-bass, dubstep, drum n bass, techno, bass house, etc.
Do you consider this album a specific genre?
I wanted to give myself, and my image to my fans, a full reset. When I started the JAUZ project, I wanted to make sure that I was going to make people guess where I was gonna go next. Which I still do, but definitely not as much as I used to. I was putting out a song every 2 weeks in the beginning; one day it would be future bass, one day it would be house music and then the next it would be dubstep and I always kept that variation.
The motto of the JAUZ brand is “music has no boundaries”. With records as early as ‘Feel The Volume’ all the way to ‘Alpha’, you would call them all a staple JAUZ record. They’re all in the same kinda world.
You can’t try to do something just because you think that is what you should do. You should just do whatever comes naturally; that’s what I try to do as much as I can; writing heavier bass driven house music. And it just kinda works. But I also like making all the other different kinds of genres that really shows what I’m about.
I’m not sure how many of my fans from the last couple years are aware that this album is more than the concept, is more than putting out an album, is more than supposed to be “I make ALL different kinds of genres”. You will hear everything. The one thing you really don’t hear in the album is a staple JAUZ record. There’s no ‘Rock The Party’ remake. It all feels (to me at least) fresh and different. Even when it’s at 128bpm, it doesn’t have that classic bass house JAUZ feel to it.
This is all the different shit I can do. If you aren’t cool with this whole journey, then I’m not for you. Maybe there are some songs you like, and maybe you like all of them. This is me, take it or leave it.
When performing live, how do you plan on mixing together the ‘WISE’ with the ‘WICKED?
I never planned to develop a live show around the album. That’s for 2019. Once the album comes out, I’m going on my bus tour of North America. I’m doing 55 shows in smaller sweaty clubs. That tour is really for the labels, it’s not for me, not for the album. I’m not gonna try and make these theatrical, cinematic, emotional sets when I’m playing in a club where people are, for lack of a better word, partying.
Most of the songs in the album you’ll find in those sets, but I’m not gonna try and reinvent the wheel. There is a time and a place for that special set, and we’re working towards that, but we’re starting to develop each of the 3 worlds from the album into their own sets.
I.e. at the one festival you might see a JAUZ ‘wicked’ set, so it will be all dubstep, drum ‘n bass; heavy aggressive music. At the next festival, it will be a ‘wise’ set which is tech house, deep house; more melodic feel good electronic music. The United, will be a regular JAUZ set. With everything thrown together.
You JUST released SUPERFLY alongside 666. Can you tell me a bit about the creation of this track and how it was to work with the legendary 666?
Honestly, it was one of those things where I was writing the instrumental for ‘Superfly’ and it all came together in the spur of the moment. I got so attached to the vocal, it made the song what it was. If I had tried to put any other vocal on that song it wouldn’t have had that 90s rave aesthetic to it. I haven’t met the 666 guys yet, but I want to say thank you for letting me use the vocal. Without 666, the song never would have existed.
Is there any specific song on ‘The Wise and the Wicked’ that stands out for you? Any special story behind any of them?
Everyone knows the big names like DJ Snake, Adventure Club and Krewella and it’s so cool. I’m so happy to work with them on the album. On half the album I wanted to pay ‘homage’ to the artists that helped me get towards where I am. DJ Snake is like my big brother watching over me; giving me advice when I’m stuck, giving me life talks when I need help and so on.
But I think what’s even cooler, is all the guys that no one’s ever heard of before. Like the songs with HYPRESSION, fabrice or Gerald Le Funk. Most of my fans will see these names and be like “who the fuck are they”.
Specifically the fabrice song and the one with HYPRESSION; they are bedroom producers who happen to send in demos to my label (Bite This).
I was in the middle of writing songs for my album, and I hear these demos and thought “okay they’re not there but I hear the idea”. My fiancé Joanne is in charge of A&R for the label and she listens to every single song that comes through. She then sits me down in the car and forces me to listen to every single one. There’s a lot of demos that I hear and think, maybe the mix is good, I can tell they can definitely produce but the idea is not as strong. But then I hear something like the fabrice record or the HYPRESSION record, where the production isn’t that strong, but the idea was so incredible. I thought I could take these on and work with these kids to turn it into something special. I never imagined that they were gonna end up on the album. But it just felt right. And now that they’re on ‘The Wise and the Wicked’, I could never imagine them not being on it.
One of my favourite records on the album is ‘On Fire ft. HYPRESSION’, it reminds me so much of how I used to produce. Very UK laidback but still aggressive house drop and then you get that crazy trap drop in the 2nd half; it’s something a 19-year old me would have done on EVERY song. I heard it, and knew that I had to be a part of it.
What does “Music has no boundaries” entail for you?
There’s no reason an artist should have to stick to just making one genre. You should be able to explore and expand on your musical vocabulary. The same applies to the fans. There’s no reason you should only listen to Tech-House, or only listen to Bass House or Dubstep.
If you love music, then you’re going to love more than one kind of music. There’s no reason you can’t listen to all of them in one show. “Music has no boundaries” aims to break down the walls that separate all of those different words.
Famous last words?
I can’t wait for the album to come out on the 31st of August. There’s a lot of songs that people haven’t heard yet, it’s gonna be really cool to dig in and find hidden gems. There’s gonna be a couple of songs that people like and if not, that’s all good; to each their own.
Check out JAUZ’s full set at Tomorrowland 2018 here:
‘The Wise and the Wicked’ album art and tracklist, out August 31, available for preorder here: