Sam Vogel, now famously known by the alias Jauz, has had one hell of a year. From playing main stages at some of the biggest festivals in the world, to collaborating with top-tier artists and generating a massive following (affectionately known as the ‘Shark Squad’), he’s hardly had any time to sit back and look at how far he’s come. I had the opportunity to sit down with Jauz on the patio of his home in the Hollywood Hills to discuss humble beginnings, genres, and what life is like on tour.
A lot of artists refuse to classify their music. Would you say that’s true for you?
It’s funny you say that. My whole goal with the ‘Jauz' project was to not be able to classify the music. Especially at first, when I started releasing stuff as Jauz, I had like 12 to 15 tracks built up, and then I kind of scheduled to release them. Not all of them came out, but I released a lot of music at first. And I tried to plan it so that I would do, like, a trap tune, and then a dubstep tune, and then a future bass tune.
So you wouldn’t get boxed in.
Exactly. So my manager and I went back and forth about it for a while. He was saying ‘It’s really hard to make a recognizable name for yourself when no one really knows what you do.’ A lot of people take one thing, make it theirs, and hit it as hard as they can. That’s how they get recognized. I knew it would take longer for people to catch on, but if people catch on because they realize that I don’t do the same thing over and over again, it’s going to make for a much more accepting fan base.
It’s interesting that you have that viewpoint, because when I listen to your stuff, it all has a recognizable ‘Jauz’ sound.
That’s really funny to me, because I don’t feel that way at all. When I write stuff, I’m always thinking that I’m emulating this person or that person. I think what it really is, is that I take a little bit of all these things that I listen to, and I add those to whatever the fuck I’m doing, which is just a bunch of weird, random shit. I think the point that I started making music that’s recognizable as me, is when I stopped caring what the music sounded like, and just made it. And then it all naturally had my flair on it. And I don’t set out to do that. I don’t think I have to do this, this and this for it to sound like me. I just fucking do it.
You started out as Escape Dubstep, right?
It seems like you still hold onto some of that sound in your new music.
Oh, for sure. I think it’s the same way for a lot of artists. I’ll definitely go back and listen to that kind of stuff to get re-inspired. When I was making music way back then, I didn’t know what I was doing. But the ideas were so innocent- I didn’t know that much about electronic music, I didn’t know that much about making it. So a lot of those ideas, in my perspective, are a lot cooler than the ideas that I come up with now. Especially because I play so many shows now, I listen to so much electronic music.
The music you listen to now influences you a lot.
Yeah. It’s hard to not get into a regimen, or a pattern to say, this is what’s cool right now so I’m going to make that. And I do that all the time, but those normally aren’t the tracks that I release. Because I’ll listen back after a few days and be like, this doesn’t sound like me, this sounds like me trying to be someone else. And then the tracks that always get released are the ones that I make in, like, 6 hours. And it’s just me throwing up on Ableton, metaphorically. Those tracks get done literally in a day, and then I’ll come back to them in a week, and be like alright, this is pretty fucking sick. I think people will like this, maybe, hopefully.
‘Feel the Volume’ seems to be a favorite among a lot of DJ’s and producers. Does it still trip you out to hear that song being played in a set?
Yeah definitely… But- and this is gonna sound shitty- At this point, it’s almost bumming me out that people play that track so much. I’m almost dying to hear someone play something new. Don’t get me wrong, that is the track that did it for me. If I had never made that track, I probably wouldn’t be here. I appreciate what it’s done for me so much. The number of people I’ve been put in touch with because of that song- it’s transcended so many different DJ’s. All that I have so much respect for. It trips me out, forsure.
What was it like getting on Borgore’s label?
It was really cool. Borgore was probably one of the first people I ever listened to in electronic music. I got into it because of Dubstep. The very first person I ever listened to was Rusko. So getting to do that 'Jehovah' remix was a dream come true. But one of the second or third artist I ever listened to was Borgore. As a 16 year old who was super into the heavy metal scene and the whole fuck society [attitude], his stance and what he was doing was so cool to me. He didn’t give a shit about being taken seriously as an artist, and got to live his life. That was just so cool to me. So then, to come full circle, and not only to be working with him as an artist and touring with him, but we’re super good friends. I hit him up every now and then. We sit around and play Xbox, and it’s not like he’s Borgore and I’m Jauz, it’s like he’s Asaf and I’m Sam, and we’re just friends. That’s been the coolest part of it for me. That’s been true for pretty much everyone. All of these people that I’ve idolized so much and put up on a pedestal, l looked at them like they’re godly, like they’re not real people. Now I just text these people and we talk like normal people and do normal people things together.
I was in New York, and Zach from Zeds Dead happened to be there with his girlfriend, and I was there with my girlfriend. So we just went and got dinner, we went on a double date. It’s so normal now. I was looking at him like, this is Zach from Zeds Dead, but now he’s just Zach. It still trips me out. It’s so cool. DJ’s and producers, we’re all such similar people. There’s very few factors that contribute to starting to make music on a computer. You were a computer nerd, or you love video games, but you also love music- it all kind of relates to one another. Regardless of how different we all are, there’s always some common ground to stand on.
You also did a remix of ‘Lean On’ with Dillon Francis.
Dillon was one of those people, even while I was coming up and getting somewhere with my career, he was still, like, too much for me. I never thought that we would be friends. He’s one of the nicest guys in the entire electronic music scene. There was one day when I was supposed to do something with him, and I was at the impound lot, trying to get my car out and he calls me like ‘Hey man, how’s it going?’. I told him what I was up to and he was so genuine and sympathetic. And he stayed on the phone with me, just chatting with me about life, while I waited to get my car out. He’s such a genuine dude. And then to be able to work with him, it doesn’t feel like, 'oh I’m working with Dillon Francis', it’s just like back in the day, when I would be working on a track with one of my friends. It’s the same shit.
Any artists that you’d like to work with in the future?
Oliver Heldens. We don’t have anything set in stone right now, but we’ve been going back and forth and I think we have some pretty cool ideas. I’d like to work with people that would be super weird to work with- like Martin Garrix. Someone like that. Where it’s like, Really? They’re doing a track together? But then it’d be something cool.
Do you feel like you change your sound when you collaborate?
I definitely have had that problem sometimes. But my thing- and I think this is actually a good thing- I’m not a good enough producer where I can perfectly emulate someone’s style. So even me trying to make it sound like them still sounds like me enough that it’s an even combo. I feel like I’ve kind of left myself open genre-wise, so that I can make a 150 [bpm] trap tune, instead of like, [sarcastically] Jauz and Dillon Francis made a deep house tune together. What a surprise. That’s another reason why I like working with other people, because it gives me the opportunity to do really different stuff than my bread and butter.
What’s life on the road like for you?
I don’t know. I’m a homebody. I love being home. I like sitting on the couch and playing video games, and being able to make music whenever I want. So from that aspect, it’s been a little hard to get into the habit of writing music on the road, and ‘getting in the zone’ when I’m in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere by myself, and all I want to do is sit in bed and watch movies because I feel lonely. It’s also especially rough to have a significant other and be gone all the time, and working through that. But I mean, it’s kind of what I signed up for. When I was growing up and playing in metal bands, all I wanted to do was get into a bus and travel the country and play shows, and be dirty and smelly, and not really sleep. I got to do that at the beginning of the year when I was touring with Borgore, and that was a really cool experience. Flying is a little harder, because I have to get to the airport so early, and there’s delays and stuff, it’s a lot of stress, but once I get to the show and play and see how stoked the crowd is, there’s really nothing better.
Jauz is set to take his career to the next level in 2016. He recently just sold out the Fonda Theatre in LA in under 2 hours and has recently been DJing beside the likes of Diplo, Tchami and DJ Snake. He's currently still on tour and you can catch him at OMFG NYE in San Diego with a stacked lineup consisting of Porter Robinson, Flosstradamus, Borgore, Jai Wolf, marshmello and more.