[Behind the Beat] JAUZ Opens Up To Us About His Influences And Musical Wisdom
Genre-blending has always been a core tenant of JAUZ, aka Sam Vogel. Over the course of the past few months, we have seen the young star rise, turning in some of the biggest tracks of the year, from taking on the likes of Ed Sheeran, A$AP Mob, Childish Gambino, and more. JAUZ has released addictive mid-tempo originals like “Feel the Volume” and remixes like “Hella Hoes” that have left both the festivals and clubs wanting more, gaining him support from high-ride artists, including Zedd, Skrillex, Diplo, and more! His originals and viral remixes have blown everyone away, stating that “music has no boundaries.”
It was an absolute pleasure to sit down with Sam himself, before performing his headlining set at this year’s Get Freaky in Salt Lake City. Being a fan myself, I was excited to ask him these questions below!
When in your life did you decide you wanted to make music?
I’ve wanted to do music ever since I was a kid, around when I was five or six. I would always dabble in different kinds of music, whether it was hip-hop or rock like I played guitar since I was twelve and then I got into electronic music in high school! One of my good friends that I grew up with started working with Logic… not the rapper but the computer program! I started to see what he was doing and at the time, I was into heavy metal kind of shit and he listened to a lot of dubstep, and I was like ‘Okay cool, this is sort of metal, but electronic and I could make it on a computer and I wouldn’t have to worry about being in a f**king band or anything’ and I decided to figure it out! I didn’t really know anything about electronic music and I just kind of went with it… somehow, now I’m here!
Now that you’re up here, how did you make your way up the musical ladder to where you are today?
I don’t know, man! I would say that half of it is luck and half of it is hard work. But you also can only get lucky through the hard work. You know what I mean? But I don’t know, there were a lot of factors – going to Icon, the school I went to in LA, along with Kayzo, Slander, etc. there’s a reason why a lot of us are out here doing what we’re doing because we went to that school, but also we really applied ourselves and believed in the process, and I think a lot of the way of making music that people connect to is about figuring out how to tap in to your unique and natural, creative vibe. For example, no one is doing anything that sounds like Kayzo. When I first came out, no one was making the same shit as “Feel the Volume” or whatever. I’ve known Kayzo for six years now, and we started doing all of this, neither of us was like ‘We’re going to do something different than everyone else’, we just got into this flow of making music, not having the thought of whether something was already out or not caring if no one likes it, I’m just going to make the music that comes naturally.
I really like that mentality!
Yeah, that’s my biggest piece of advice when people ask me: you need to write whatever you’re supposed to be writing… like a lot of people try to do something because they think it’s cool or that it’s going to make them money But it never works when you try it that way.
Exactly, you have to go your own route! That’s the advice I usually get from the various artists I ask! Now that you’re telling people to follow those words, who were YOUR musical influences growing up?
A lot! I would say my first important influential band was Linkin Park! I remember summers back in 4th or 5th grade playing Hybrid Theory on repeat, and now that I look back on it, Linkin Park’s music was so electronically influenced and it’s cool to see where I ended up in music and I’d go back and listen to old Linkin Park and hear all the synths and all the DJ scratching in the background. After that, I would say the next milestone of that would be Metallica! They were the ones that really started making me play guitar and really get into rock and heavy metal.
So you’re a metal heard, aren’t you?!
Straight up! Once I started getting into electronic music, the first song I associated myself with was “Swagga” by Excision & Datsik, and that’s when I realized I really f**ked with this and I wanted to figure out, “what this is”. From there, when I started getting more into production, I was a huge fan of Alvin Risk and Kill the Noise – I remember when Kill the Noise released his first big album, and it was so intricate and crazy! I’m not that kind of producer now, I mean I wanted to be that guy that made crazy bass growls and all the crazy shit that Kill the Noise does, but that’s not me and that’s why I like it so much. With my music, I’m all for simplicity, but when I listen to their music, it’s all about how not simple it is.
Since you mentioned you’re a huge fan of Excision, how does it feel to be headlining with Excision himself?
It’s pretty wild! Get Freaky is the first actual festival that I’ve wanted to headline and it’s pretty cool! It’s definitely a milestone and I remember a couple years ago when Excision was one of the first dudes to play out one of my tracks way back in the day and I was f**king shitting myself and now today, we’re good buddies. He’s a really cool dude and I see him all the time.
I want to talk about your top hit with Ephwurd, “Rock the Party”, which is also one of my favorite tracks from you! Can you walk us through the production of it all?
That was actually one of the weirder songs about how it all came together because Joann, my girlfriend, had been friends with Datsik’s girlfriend for about five or six years, so she was the reason why I met Troy before he even knew I was JAUZ or heard any of my music. So I would go over to his house every now and then and kick it or whatever, it’s funny because we didn’t really talk about music because I didn’t want to impose anything. But once “Feel the Volume” came out, I saw him out one night and he was like ‘Yo, I’m staring this side project, called Ephwurd, I’m really f**king with all this house stuff that’s going on right now, we should do a track!’. So I went over to his house one day and we were nerds in the studio, sitting there for around five to six hours, coming up with the beginning of “Rock the Party”, and that was before I went on tour for the first time with Borgore and I didn’t play it once that entire tour because it was totally out of my head, I didn’t think about it and then one of my friends texted me and was like ‘Yo I’m at Troy’s house, he just played me your guys’ record, it’s insane!’ and I was like ‘Really? I didn’t think it was that cool’! But I played it back again and I decided to finish this up! Then I put it in a mix that I did for UKF and that was the first time that anyone had heard it – I didn’t put a track title, I didn’t write down who it was, I just randomly put it in there and I saw the comments coming in saying ‘What is this track?’ and then I played it at Ultra for the first time and that was the buzz – that one song!
I love the song! I’m glad you made it public! It’s interesting to hear about the artists’ perspectives of the music.
Yeah, I love the song now! It’s just so funny how sometimes when you’re the artist and you’re involved in the creative process – for example, I would sit in the studio with Skrillex and he’ll just sit there and play me 45 songs that he’s working on and he’ll be like ‘Yeah, I don’t really care about any of these’ and I’d be like ‘Yo, those are the best 45 songs that I’ve heard in three years’. That’s how it was for me for “Rock the Party” and I’m sure there are other songs of mine that I’ve worked on that I’ve never shown anyone that maybe I think suck and maybe really don’t. I just have no idea and there’s no way to know until you get that outside perspective.
If you were to do a B2B set with any artist, who would it be and why?
I would have to say Zeds Dead because we’re f**king doing it right now! We just announced our two New Years shows that we’re doing together and I’m not going to say that there’s more shit coming but keep your eyes peeled! But Zeds Dead has always been a big influence on me because they were one of the few acts in electronic music that could do dubstep and also do a lot of shit outside of dubstep, and that was always my goal to make a bunch of different kinds of music, so I always really felt like we all were on the same level when it came to the thought process of music, so it’s cool to get to do something with them. It’s also cool because we have a lot of the same fans, along with different fans, so we get to bring them all together into this one, huge cluster f**k! It’s going to be crazy!
What would you say was the most embarrassing moment of your life was?
At my high school, when you’re a junior and a senior, there was a scavenger hunt between the two grades. It would happen at the end of the school year where the seniors would come up with a list of all the things you can do around our hometown and you would get a certain number of points depending on how crazy the thing was. So when I was a junior, one of the things on the list was to strip off all of your clothes except your boxers and go into the most popular burger place in our hometown and order a burger. Ordering food in my boxers wasn’t that embarrassing, but what I didn’t know was for the seniors, there was a task to steal the junior’s clothes! So I put my clothes out in front of my homie’s car and ran to the burger spot, but when I came back outside, my clothes were gone. So I had to spend the rest of my day walking down the strip of my hometown in my boxers.
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