It’s been less than 3 years since we interviewed Jauz at his alma mater Icon Collective in the Valley of Los Angeles, he was barely starting to tour but had already been tapped for collaboration by the likes of Skrill, Diplo, and Borgore just to name a few. This year he’s hosting his own Off The Deep end stage at Electric Zoo, part of the greater curated Off The Deep End event series where we let Jauz take us deep into musical parts unknown. To celebrate this career milestone, and what also promises to just be one hell of a party with k?d, Slushii, Sub Focus, JOYRYDE, Bijou, and Saint Wknd, Jauz made a mix we’re stoked to premiere and gave us a refreshingly honest interview about the ride he’s been on since we spoke last.
Electric Zoo is going down next weekend Sept 1-3rd in NYC and will be broadcast on Sirius XM’s Electric Area, get your tickets here if you haven’t already and enjoy both the epic mix and the real talk from Jauz himself below. We’re also happy to report that despite what you may have heard on Twitter or read in SoundCloud comments, Sam Jauz Vogel has exactly the same temperament and outlook he had when he was first starting to break through. There’s truly not a whiff of ego coming off the kid because he’s so genuine – hope you all enjoy this conversation (and mix!) as much as we did! Cue the iconic Steven Spielberg Jaws theme song cause we’re headed off the deep end for this one.
NEST HQ: A lot can happen in 30 months, which is how long it’s been since I talked to you.
J: Wow, is that really it?
NEST HQ: That’s really it
NEST HQ: YES!
J: Anyway… yes it’s been 30 months since we did that interview for Nest?
NEST HQ: Do you remember that day? It was the day of the Jack U live stream, I met you at Icon Collective and you were low-key thinking about driving Lyft because you got a thousand dollar bonus but you were pretty sure your car was going to get rejected from Lyft. And that’s a pretty far departure from sitting in Jimi Hendrix studio (at Paramount Studios in Hollywood where we’re conducting our interview).
J: Yeah that’s a trip
NEST HQ: … about to make music with Zeds Dead and curating your own stage at EZoo.
J: Yeah, was that really only 30 months?
NEST HQ: Yep, looked it up.
J: I was still thinking about driving Lyft back then? … I guess that makes sense.
NEST HQ: You were in the cusp, you were breaking out.
J: Yeah cause it took me, even once I started putting shit out, like even when “Feel The Volume” finally took off and all that shit, it was still another 6 or 7 months before I started playing shows. Cause Moe (his manager) was like, “Yeah we should wait as long as we humanly can to play shows because it’s just gonna, as long as you keep putting out the music, the hype will build and build and build and build, and eventually it’ll be to a point where you can’t not tour anymore.” And every couple weeks he will text me and be like, “Are you alive? Can you survive another month without touring?”
And I was like, “Yeah… it’s fine, I’ll live on scraps, it’s all good, like I’m used to it at this point.” You know, they say patience is a virtue and it definitely paid off. I mean, there are so many kids, it breaks my heart to watch them so blindly do what they think they’re supposed to be doing and play these shitty ass shows. I’m not even just talking about local kids playing local shows. Even kids who are getting billed on 1PM on a festival and they think that’s “the look” and whatever. I’m just like fuck dude, you’re gonna get those billings the right way if you just do the music. But now it’s like oh well I’m friends, because I’m LA as fuck, I’m friends with all these guys who do shows and I can use my friend power to get in places, and that’s not gonna get you anywhere. I feel like I’m the best example of that.
NEST HQ: Do you think it’s more difficult, now, to break out, than it was 3 years ago?
NEST HQ: Cool, discuss.
J: I mean just look around. Look at all the kids that are fucking breaking ground right now, giving me and everyone else a run for our money. Like fucking Rezz, Illenium, k?d, Ekali and I could literally name like a hundred kids who have literally gone from 0 to 100 in the last 5 months. It’s just one of those typical things where maybe 3 years ago, this time, bigroom was still poppin, that was like the shit, like I remember at Icon, that’s what everyone wanted to do, they were making bigroom and then people like me and JOYRYDE and whoever else that were doing something different kind of caught that shine because we were doing something different. And all of those guys at the top were looking for that new shit so they could be that first dude to be like, “yeah, I brought this to the main stage” or “I found this” or whatever. And so I think that’s extrapolated now because now the Main Stage is starting to get more and more populated with people like me, and Ghastly and obviously Marshmello and all these guys and now it’s getting weirder and more diverse. So now we’re the people who are looking for that next dude to be like, “Yeah, I helped bring this shit.”
So I think just putting music on SoundCloud that’s good enough – it’s still the most viable way to get noticed. There are hundreds of people like me– I don’t know if ‘hundreds’ is right, but whatever– we have so many people that we’re friends with and so many connections that are digging through Soundcloud everyday, trying to find that next new person. So… is it more saturated right now? Yeah, for sure, but if you’re not doing what’s saturated, then you’re fine. It’s super simple.
NEST HQ: What do you look for as a curator for your stage?
J: Well, I feel like a lot of the people that are kind of set as examples are people that are playing my stage, for good reason, like k?d who I had on my last tour on a couple stops, he’s this little fucking kid from Florida, nerdy and whatever, and likes making music that he likes and he doesn’t worry about fucking making shit that’s hot or popular or whatever and he just does his weird shit and he has his anime thing that he does, and people love it. It’s about having that right music and of course the right branding, but also making it feel real and not forced. I feel bad saying this because I’m actually friends with a lot of these guys but the era of the ‘forced, dutch-bro, fucking cookie cutter’ like ‘this is how you make an artist profile look,’ and like ‘this is what you do to make yourself look important,’ it doesn’t work anymore. Kids see through that shit. So that’s why people like Rezz, who is so polar opposite of all that, is doing as incredible as she is right now. Cause she’s so counter-culture.
NEST HQ: How did this whole EZoo opportunity come about? Someone was like, ‘Hey you want a stage?’
J: (shrugs) Yeah, I didn’t really have much of a say, it was kind of just like, one day I saw this whole offer come in, and I was like, “Oh cool, we’re doing EZoo, dope” and they were like yeah, you have the opportunity to run your own stage and I was like, “Yeah! That sounds great!” I think it’s kind of like a natural progression from what we did with the Off The Deep End shows and kind of trying to take that brand and push it as far as it can go. To me, it has so many different applications and the Off The Deep End brand started as an idea that I had for the tour that ended up being called the Off The Deep End tour. So what I wanted to do was, let’s say New York, I’d play Terminal 5, right? And then I was gonna do, my goal was to find some random warehouse and do an after party that was only deep underground music and it’d be the Off The Deep End party. So it was gonna be like a supplemental party to the main tour. The idea was building and it was cool, but it kind of took on more legs and it kind of became this thing where it was like–yeah you can keep it for this very specific thing you want to do but also it has the opportunity to grow into something so much bigger, so do you want to try to really pigeon-hole it and make this specific thing that is your creative vision? Or do you want to try to do with it as much as you can?
For me, sometimes it’s hard to see it cause I’m the artist and that’s why I have people like Moe around. Like, does he have a Picasso, artistic-like creative vision? Not necessarily. But does he see things from the bigger picture, like a hundred times more than I can? Absolutely. So it’s the balance and basically the fight of the two of us along with everyone else that we work with that makes the project work. Because if it were up to me, everything that I would do, would probably be so specific and artistic and not try hard and it might work, it might not. But having that balance of Moe coming to me and saying, “We should do this” and me saying “Go fuck yourself, this is what we’re gonna do,” and finding that happy medium is how everything’s worked as well as it has. So that’s what happened with Off The Deep End – we started it in Vegas, all the Vegas shows that I do are basically Off The Deep End parties, so it started to become this brand was like, you’re not going to a regular club show, you’re not going to a regular festival show–it’s something different. And it has so many different applications cause it could be a Vegas Off The Deep End Show, it could be the tour that was full production and all that crazy shit or it could be a festival stage. So, I’m definitely glad that I didn’t keep it as this little dinky, after party situation that I wanted to make it into because it’s turned into this thing that could become a brand that’s as big as “the Jauz brand” (emphasized air quotes).
NEST HQ: So this stage is gonna be an Off The Deep End experience?
J: Yeah, I mean obviously we’re working with the festival and it’s their stage and we’re just having it for a day but we’re gonna make it special, for that day, and it’s gonna feel like you’re at an Off The Deep End stage, not at–I can’t remember what the stages are called, but yeah, it’s gonna be good.
NEST HQ: This is more of like a existential, EDM question… Do you think that, have you seen your fan base change in the past 3 years and if so, how? Besides it getting bigger…
J: I don’t know, my fanbase is all over the place which is kind of exactly what I should have expected because my music is kind of all over the place and that was always my goal.
NEST HQ: I mean, my 35-year-old friend, that I haven’t raved with since 2010, hit me up to come to your show. And he was like this is the most important show of the year– I have to go to this. And I was like, Really? You’re coming out of raving retirement to come to Jauz?
J: That’s so weird.
NEST HQ: He doesn’t even pay attention, he doesn’t even go on SoundCloud – but somehow he knows all about you.
J: See I think for the people in that generation, which I’ve ended up having a decent amount of fans in, which is really weird to me–I feel like that comes maybe not so much from the music, although it definitely does, but also from what they see from the live shows. Which is, I’ll play old school tracks from electronic music and I’ll play old rock records and old school hip-hop shit and like I bring stuff that was inspirational for me growing up–not necessarily from my generation–like the music that I would listen to personally and bring that into my live shows and incorporate it. Actually a lot of kids at shows sometimes completely fucking miss it and I’ll play something like this is my fucking jam and like 99% of the crowd is like, what the fuck is this? And like, then there’s the people like that, like your homie, who are like, maybe that’s the reason and maybe it’s not but like you played fucking Guns and Roses or Metallica or System Of A Down, that’s the shit that makes that generation feel like they have a tie into electronic music.
But other than that, obviously the more things have progressed, I’ve somehow, without really trying to, become like a main stage artist, I didn’t really plan on that, but I play on the main stage at most festivals which is really weird to me and like not at the beginning of them either, which is even more weird. But I think that’s just a sign of the times and I think that, with that, comes a lot of new fans. Which is cool, but also a lot of flack from older fans which is also fine, you know? And it’s good and bad on both ends. Where there are a lot of fans that have been there since the beginning and it’s so crazy that everything has happened and that WE are all here cause I feel like–or I would imagine, if I was a fan I’d be like “I’ve been here since day one and now he’s on the fucking main stage,” cause it is because of those fans that I get to play on the main stage cause if I didn’t have those fucking fans, why would I be booked on a main stage? But the negative side of it, which is not negative, it’s what happens and you deal with it…
NEST HQ: It’s inevitable, if you’re successful.
J: Right, it’s that a lot of the new fans aren’t necessarily so familiar with my history and the progression of my music and so maybe I’ll put one thing out and newer fans will be like what the fuck is this? Like I know “Feel The Volume” and “Rock the Party” and “Deeper Love” and all that shit. Then I’ll put some shit out and older fans are like what the fuck is this… I know like “Hella Hoes”, all the remixes at the beginning of your career… and like I think it’s just this thing that happens every so often in my career–and it’s gonna continue to happen in my career–where every now and then, I have to remind people that I make everything and I do everything and I play everything and that’s just the way it’s gonna be.
That’s the first thing that Moe and I fought about all the time, is that back when I started the Jauz project and I had that vision, there was no one else really doing that other than like… GTA and Skrillex and you know, guys that didn’t necessarily start their career and base their brand off of that. Like obviously GTA had depths of genres and shit like that it was hard for him to see how that could work. And I was like you know what… yeah, if you stick to one thing and you do it a lot people will clammer on to you faster. But my goal was always like, I wanna do everything and eventually I’ll build a big enough fanbase that they’ll be there for everything. I think that’s one thing that I could credit Rezz to. She’s built such a loyal fanbase and Kayzo too; who’s been one of my friends since I fucking started making music in LA.
NEST HQ: Which was what year?
NEST HQ: And you’re how old now?
J: I turn 24 the day before EZoo!
NEST HQ: Oh hell ya.
J: Yeah but I’ve been doing this as long as Kayzo has or he’s even been around since before the Jauz project was and he had that really slow progression where he did exactly what he wanted to do and it wasn’t cool or popular, but it was him. And it slowly, slowly, slowly grew this fanbase and now he’s one of the biggest artists in bass music for 2017. He’s smashing it. It’s incredible, and it’s cool to see people like that come to fruition. And for me, that was my goal, and then fucking, Feel The Volume happened and everything went from here to here. And that was like not what I was trying to do. I was trying to do what was like gradual, then all of a sudden it was this 0-60 and we rolled with it. And it’s ended up working out.
NEST HQ: I’d say it’s going pretty good.
J: Yeah but I would say now my career is more of like, I had a fork in the road, where I could have either tries to go full fucking EDM, mainstage shit and like tried to do essentially pop or crossover whatever and like really try to like nail all of that and leave all the old shit behind. It’s lucrative, its cool. I talk about this with a lot of people and I still believe it even though it’s not necessarily my goal but I don’t care if you’re Tiesto or if you’re fuckin… what’s that guy’s name? He’s like a techno dj and he hates everybody… he has a really weird face.
NEST HQ: Seth Troxler?
J: I don’t care if you’re Tiesto or Seth Troxler or even someone who’s more underground than Seth Troxler, like your number one goal, as a creative artist, is to have your art understood and appreciated and connected to by as many people as humanly possible. And if you don’t believe that, then you’re a fucking liar. Like you’re a fucking liar… And just because you’re an underground artist and not a lot of people (the mainstage people or the pop people) don’t get it but like you want as many of those underground fans as you can cause you’re like yeah we’re building the underground. And your goal is to make the underground, the overground. Like if everyone in the world wanted to go to underground techno raves in fucking warehouse then you fucking did your job. You know what I mean? So like yeah there’s like, I think there’s a part of every artist who wants to get to that next, next level and it’s even like, you know, and I hate talking about it because of what has happened recently but like Linkin Park. They became one of the biggest bands on earth doing their shit, because electronic infused metal and like guttural and screaming and time went on and they started making pop shit. Was it my favorite shit of theirs, no. but did I understand it, absolutely. So… anyways we’ve gone off on a…
NEST HQ: Off the deep end?
J: Off the deep end for sure. The point of what I’m saying is I was at that fork. We kinda just stepped back and like yo everything has gone so awesome right now, or up to this point and my goal was never to like be a pop star. It was never to make 20 mil a year it was never to do any of that it was to do what I do and do what makes me happy and tour the world and that’s exactly what I do right now. And that doesn’t mean I’m satisfied but it also doesn’t mean that I want to give up my morality, for lack of a better word, to climb faster and be bigger than I am at this point. So now, I would say my career is on that gradual step. Which is where I wanna be. I think one of the best examples is Borgore. He’s been touring for however the fuck many years now and he never goes down, he always goes up. Little, little, little, step by step, by step, he’s not at the top of headlines and he’s not at the bottom of the headlines, he’s everywhere and he continues to tour for fucking ever and has fans all over the world, that’s what I wanna do.
NEST HQ: When you said the word morality just now, I was thinking that maybe what you really meant was authenticity, and I guess I just wanna ask you in the nicest way possible if, cause surely you get called the sellout and fucking bullshit from old school fans, does that get to you? Like I know you’re authentic and put heart into everything you do cause I get to talk to you one on one.
J: Yeah of course it does. If you don’t think it gets to me, I’m like one of the worst – Getter is the worst and I love him for it, but honestly I’m probably next on the list that won’t shut up and won’t take the high ground when I see certain shit on the internet. And to me, sometimes I say politically charged shit and sometimes I talk shit back to people and some people are like oh you’re supposed to take the high road, and the thing that pisses me off the most is that you’re supposed to be here for our entertainment you shouldn’t be bringing shit into it. Music and being an artist is about having an opinion, you’re supposed to either be loved or hated. You’re not supposed to be some fuckin “Oh I’m gonna jerk everyone off a little bit so that everyone’s happy no ones gonna be mad at me” – like wtf dude, I don’t know how, when music got so soft dick about shit but i just can’t take it.
I grew up a metal head and a funk punk and like all that shit and that’s what music means to me. I feel like that’s what needs to be brought back to music. It’s ironic to nme that i get called a sellout cause that’s so against how i feel about music and maybe i just need to express that more. So that was the whole point where either you do go that softic like whatever and like, you know there’s a lot of people who have done it and have done it well and done it successfully and you know its because thats what they wanted to do. Like Zedd and The Chainsmokers, two best examples. People who innately, in their bones, write pop music and that’s what they’re good at. And trying to be underground and trying to be cool, electronic music would not be natural for them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down with drew or I’ve sat down with fucking Anton and they’re like, yeah I’ve always written pop music I’ve always been good at pop music, I was never good at writing electronic music even though everyone thought I was, and all I ever wanted to do was write fucking pop shit and now they write pop shit and they kill it… Or Calvin Harris, who’s now gonna do his fuckin’ funk band shit and if you go back to the beginning of CH it was a fucking band, he wasn’t a DJ. So I think it’s all about doing what you’re supposed to be doing. That something I learned at the very, very beginning of my career when I was going to Icon is that, if you are in your lane and you do you, you’re always gonna be successful. It’s when you try to do what someone else is supposed to be doing is when you get fucked up.
NEST HQ: Well this has been super illuminating, what else?
J: I would say this is the first step in a big, or the first big step for the OTDE brand. Cause the tour, that’s getting to the front door and now having a stage at the festival that’s like the real thing. Now we’ve stated actually moving. And where it’s gonna go at this point, I’d really know but now it has legs and it’s going and I’m really excited to see where it goes. We’re def gonna try to make this as epic as humanly possible so I’m pretty stoked. And I have a lot of new music I’m going to play and we’re gonna do a bunch of shit, yada yada yada – it’ll be cool!
NEST HQ: Thanks so much, Sam – see you at EZoo!!