Sam Vogel, better known at JAUZ, is a 25-year-old DJ and electronic music producer. Hailing from San Francisco, he’s quickly made a name for himself in the dance scene with original trap and dubstep songs, gaining millions of streams worldwide. His first full-length record, The Wise and the Wicked, released last month.
As founder and CEO of Bite This, he’s created a path for himself and helped launch the careers of new artists through his record label. In the midst of an 8-week tour, JAUZ recently played three sold-out shows in different LA venues. The Weekly caught up with Vogel before performing at the Fonda Theatre on Halloween. We learned how he structured his debut project, the art of collaborating, and what’s in store heading into next year.
OC Weekly (Michael Silver): How long was this project in the making? Can you explain the chapters and the message behind it?
Sam Vogel: I came up with the idea in November of last year with nine or ten songs already written. The plan was to put it out in March. Then I reached out to more artists thinking it would be cool to do a song with that person and so on. There were probably 40 demos by the end, cutting it down to 23 tracks with the cinematic pieces. The whole process took under a year, which is still impressive, but there are tracks on their I had been working on for two or three years.
Through the process of writing the album I saw the divide where certain songs were on left, others on the right, and some sat in the middle. That whole concept is something I’ve noticed as a song writer and music producer. I felt like it needed a certain theme and it turned into this theatrical project.
You’ve traveled the world. Touring to support this new project while playing major festivals like Holy Ship, EDC, Ultra, etc. Looking back to a few years ago when you began your career, did you envision this happening?
Being on a bus like we are now is a lot more manageable for me. Waking up you don’t have to worry about planes and travel and live your day-to-day life. 90 percent of what I do on the bus tour is play PS4, which I would be doing at home anyways. Not getting to see my dog for six weeks sucks! Some people are cut out for it and other aren’t. Touring is definitely not easy but it’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was 14.
Did you envision yourself getting to this point so quickly?
Obviously, it was always the dream and the goal. I still have aspirations and dreams to do even bigger things then I’m doing now, but I never actually thought it was going to happen. A lot of success comes from visualizing and telling yourself it will happen. If I told myself at 14-years-old that I would end up doing this, there’s no way.
Working with so many talented DJs and producers, what keeps you hungry to make new beats?
There are so many different ways it happens. For me, collaboration is the best part of electronic music. Writing music in the platform that we do is so easy to send projects back and forth. A band has to all be in the studio together and record. For us, it’s just so normal, with not even knowing someone. It’s like ‘Your music is sick, let’s do a song together.’
On the album, there are people I’ve known forever like (DJ) Snake. I literally sent him the entire album and said pick one, I don’t care if it’s finished or whatever. Pick one and we will do it together. I’ve always wanted to do a record with him and waiting for the right moment. Adventure Club is a good example, I’ve known them for six years and been my day one support system. It was important to do a record with them because the relationship meant a lot to me.
What are your thoughts on how electronic music is perceived? Everything is being mixed together these days; do you put stock into what people say your music should sound like?
It’s all in the eye of the beholder, know what I mean? Some people are going to hit it on the head. I can’t tell you how many of my die-hard fans will come up to me and be like ‘This song really sounds like drum & bass,’ and it’s a house song. I pull inspiration from a lot of different places and my music is not cut and dry, like this genre or that genre. I don’t worry about it and people are going to call it what they want.
Are there any dream collaborations out in the world of music you’re looking to fulfill? Any desire to break boundaries and cross over into other genres?
Honestly, I would say Kayzo. He just did that song with Underoath. A bunch of us grew up in the metal world. Working with metal bands would be a dream come true. Doing something that really brings together the live band in the metal world and electronic music like I do it would be really cool.
You’re originally from San Francisco but call LA home now. What’s it like playing sold out shows here?
I would consider this a hometown show. I’ve lived in LA for about seven years. LA is such an important market for everyone in music. That on top of the fact that it’s also where I’ve lived for so long, these shows are like the golden goose. It’s cool because my first ever LA shows were three years ago. It was two nights at the Fonda, first time selling tickets to my own show. Also different than Academy or Exchange because those are nightclubs and people will show up no matter what wanting to go out. You have to sell the tickets on your own. For me to sell those early shows out was my ‘Holy shit’ moment. This whole tour has been about going back to square one, revisiting the places that I used to do.
2019 is not too far away. What can Jauz fans look forward to in the New Year and beyond?
Musically I already have a lot of stuff planned. We have a lot of plans for next year music wise. The album was kind of like the foundation and I have different ideas, ways to develop that world and explore different areas of it. It’s cool because I have this 3-4-5 year game plan, where before I was focusing on what was going to happen five or six weeks from now. I’d rather focus on the big picture and be here for another five years, than another five months.
Catch the remainder of the Bite America Label Tour as it travels along the West coast with support from Holy Goof and Skepsis.
Michael Silver is a journalist and photographer based in Southern California. He covers music, sports, technology, and streetwear. Tips & pitches: [email protected]