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3LAU Upping The Ante One Mash-Up At A Time

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When I was younger I listened to music even as I slept; whether it was classical or classic rock, my CD player was like a pacifier.

Albeit slightly oxymoronic, “21 and technically sophisticated” is a descriptive phrase that sums up where Vegas native Justin Blau is at. Known as 3LAU (pronounced Blau) to a rapidly increasing fan base, since 2011 the DJ/producer/singer has proven himself a master of musical mashery over and over (and over) again. Check “Girls Who Save the World,”“Dubsex,”“Yacht Week in America” and “All Night Long” for quick affirmations.

Search his moniker and you’ll not only discover a dizzying blast of sonic gold, you’ll notice blogs tipping their hats at his ability to not only disassemble tracks, but put them back together again—oft-times improved. Hit up Turntable FM or Hypem and you’ll see kids dropping his product like a secret weapon. Spend some time on any dancefloor of quality and you’ll undoubtedly discover his “post-progressive house” sound to not only be technically seamless, but a dynamic and an entertaining call to action. “Fun” isn’t a dirty word anymore.

With the #1-ranked remix on Tiësto’s Work Hard, Play Hard, tens of thousands of fans on Facebook and designs on doing more than simply conquering EDM, this young star continues to re-contextualize bits and bytes of pop, electro, house and dubstep with the verve of a veteran and an enthusiasm which should be copyrighted, if at all possible.

Home Town: Las Vegas.
Currently Living: St. Louis.
Origin Of Name: My friend Mikhail thought the “3” was more Google-able; it also represents the singer/producer/DJ that I am.
Weapon of Choice: Heart.
Est. Miles Traveled Per Year: At least 10,000 miles so far in 2012... who knows what’s next.
Gigs Played / Nights Out per year: So far I’m at three per week on average... let’s say 100 per year to be on the safe side for 2012.
Source of Power: Porter Robinson, Steve Angello, deadmau5, Dallask.
Blurb Yourself: My name is Blau. Been doing the music thing since I can remember. I started playing piano, guitar and singing. Somehow—probably because I love working on my own—my previous instrumental knowledge channeled into dance music, which is what I do now. Way before people listened to my music I was a huge audiophile, always trying to bring out the detail in music. I listen to everything, love every sound and spend most of my time listening to music.

"Set Fire" (3LAU Bootleg)


Can you walk us through your various musical phases? From early interest to actual creative output, how did they tie into your waking life?

When I was younger I listened to music even as I slept; whether it was classical or classic rock, my CD player was like a pacifier.

What life activities are made better when listening to music? Talk about the last time you enjoyed one and the other.

Just came off a long road trip of shows, popped in The Weeknd with my tour manager who hadn’t heard of them. Driving and music is key, but the right music. I generally go acoustic or epic-chord progression while driving, or just being in the car. When the world is passing fast around you at high speeds you need an epic soundtrack for it.

If you visualize music as you listen, what (generally) do you imagine?

That’s tough. I generally never really visualize when I listen. In fact, I would say I block out visualization so I have no distraction to the sound. I focus on the specificity of detail in a track, where things sit in the mix, how they penetrate the surface, but I rarely actually visualize the instrumentation or anything like that.

Time tells talent, so put in the time. If you don’t work on music non-stop you’re shorting yourself. If you have what it takes, and put in the time, you’ll make it out there in the music world.

I’ve always been an album purist, believing the album as a whole paints a picture of sound and emotion. The cover should be the visual version.

What is a song that inspired you to create?

“All I Need” by Radiohead. The last minute of the song is arguably my favorite minute of music, ever.

What (type) music makes you reach for the headphones? What (type) mood makes you reach for the headphones?

Since I tried my SOLs, I find I reach for them often. The bass response is unparalleled and extremely accurate, especially for those deep kick drums in house. Nonetheless, I'd still reach for my SOLs when I'm listening to my indie jams.

Tell me about your most memorable night out.

I played the Royale in Boston; it was my second sold out headlining show—1,000 kids came just to see me. Having all those eyes on you is the best feeling in the world. It made me realize how far I've come in what I love to do.

Tell us about a specific event or period in your life that is linked in your mind to a song/album.

The Garden State soundtrack was huge. The movie/soundtrack came out at a really interesting, yet personal point in my life. I still go back to it from time to time.

Is there a band whose album covers you love?

Awesome question. I actually particularly love all of Radiohead’s cover art, as well as M83’s. I think it’s important to have great cover art that matches the music; it lends itself to an album as a whole. I’ve always been an album purist, believing the album as a whole paints a picture of sound and emotion. The cover should be the visual version.

Are there any dots to connect with where/how you grew up to your musical output?

Haha. I definitely had the piano forced on me, but I came to love it—it was more the lessons I didn’t like. From singing to piano to guitar, my output has definitely morphed since. I want to go back to the instruments one day though, if not sooner than later. DJing started from a simple visit to Sweden that inspired me. The rest is history.

What value do you place on environment as a creative springboard?

I kind of just need to be alone for hours and completely focused with no distractions. I also can’t really have anything else to do. As long as I’m indoors, left alone and have a keyboard to work with, I’m good to go.

Do you remember the first time you had a live audience’s complete attention?

I can’t forget it and I think it’s been more recent. I was playing a Lazy Rich remix of Calvatron’s “Raw To The Floor” that has a huge second drop. I told the whole crowd to stop what they were doing and to jump at the drop. The drop was a little tricky though… there was a fake out and then the crowd went absolutely insane.

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Soundtrack of Life:

To give fans a different perspective, I decided to do a five-track indie playlist of my indie favorites across the board. I would say it’s a playlist for those who need inspiration. Just listen in a dark room, with nothing else, no distractions and you’ll see what I mean.

M83 “Highway of Endless Dreams”


This is a track that I was immediately struck by on M83s best album, Saturdays = Youth. The build-up, compared to any track I’ve ever heard, is epic and unparalleled.

Sigur Rós “Sæglópur”


One of Sigur Ross most famous records has a very similar epic feel compared to the previous track. The title means lost at sea, which is pretty descriptive of the emotion it invokes.

Radiohead “All I Need”


The last minute of this song is probably my favorite minute in music ever. If harmonic dissonance is a paradox, the sound of the phrase might relate to what I’m talking about.

The Antlers “Kettering”


This song balances the perfect combination of soft lyrics, epic chord progressions and huge guitars. Peter Silberman, frontman of The Antlers, and Ben Gibbard are my two favorite lyricists of all time.

Tycho “The Daydream”


To close off an epic progression of the playlist, I added some Tycho—a melodic mastermind and synth connoisseur. Its atmospheric, yet full and thick.


"We Found House" (3LAU Modertalking Bootleg)

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