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Jauz Talks Meteoric Rise, Style-Hopping Sound & Songwriting

The producer Jauz, real name Sam Vogel, has risen rapidly through the ranks behind a series of high-energy singles, dynamite remixes, and collaborations with an assortment of arena-quaking DJs -- SkrillexTiestoDiploMarshmello and more. 
But the 23-year-old's initial dream was to entertain arenas in a different way. "I remember telling my mom, 'I'm going to be in *NSYNC," Vogel tells Billboard Dance over the phone from Los Angeles. "She's like, 'well, you kind of have to learn piano and all this stuff.' I'm like, 'fuck that, I'll just figure it out.'" From age six, he planned "to do music in one capacity or the other."
Vogel brought a similar hard-headed focus to his appreciation for heavy metal, which he discovered in middle school. "I got super into Metallica," he explains, "and I started learning every single one of their songs. I would sit in my room for six hours at a time, run albums all the way through, and play everything. All of my favorite bands, I would learn their entire albums front to back."
The rigor of his approach made it difficult to find bandmates -- most wanted a more casual musical experience -- but it helped push him towards learning music technology programs. "I started trying to make music in bands in high school with a bunch of kids that weren't really that committed," Vogel recalls. "I found Pro Tools and tried to be my own one man band. I don't want to have to rely on other people." He encountered Datsik and Excision's "Swagga" in a friend's car and found that it buzzed his system in the same way as metal records. This kicked off his slow drift towards the heavy end of the electronic music spectrum. 
Before he officially launched the Jauz project -- following a stint at film school and an eye-opening enrollment in the production school Icon, which he credits with helping him "tap into the true creative side of my brain" -- Vogel spent seven months preparing. He describes this time as "building the brand, building the business plan, putting together a collection of 15 or 20 tracks that were already finished." Presidents have a list of things they want to accomplish during their first 100 days; Vogel had an eight week chunk of time planned out in advance before he released a single Jauz tune.
He encourages aspiring producers to think in the same meticulous fashion. "What's your brand?" he queries a hypothetical youngster. "What's your goal? How many tracks do you have finished? If you put one out and it does well, what's your follow-up? Do you know where you're going to put those tracks out? Do you have blogs posting about them? Or are you gonna get someone to share it from your SoundCloud?"
Though many successful producers break out as masters of a single sound, Vogel wanted Jauz to be more elastic. "My goal was to be able to make music in all different areas but have it all still kind of sound like me," he explains. "It's not like. 'he uses the same bass sounds' -- I don't, I never do -- it's just the way that I make music on Ableton is different from the way that other people make it. It's always going to kind of sound like me one way or another." 
Though he argued with his management about the approach -- his team worried it would be hard for fickle listeners to get a bead on him, so maybe they'd stop trying -- Vogel persevered. "Maybe it'll take longer for people to catch on," he reasoned, "but those fans will be able to follow me in whatever direction I'm going to go."
He didn't have to wait long: the first Jauz song arrived in 2014, and his third single, "Feel the Volume," started to get festival play the same year. "I went to Hard Summer [an electronic music fest in Los Angeles] as a fan, had no expectations," Vogel says. "'Feel the Volume' had maybe come out 10 or 12 days prior. The first act I went to see was Tchami, and he played it." "No one knew what the f--king track was," Vogel adds, but he describes the crowd's reaction as "a fucking eruption."
"Feel the Volume" scoots along with '90s house references -- a ping pong synth melody, vocal samples -- and the kind of machine gun-bass runs that are catnip for a festival audience. The song was picked up for release by Diplo's Mad Decent label, but even as Vogel found success with this tune , he maintained a commitment to variety, remixing the club pop singer Kiesza, the New York rap collective A$AP Mob, and the Canadian producer Tiga. Add to that his own productions and collaborations: "Squad Out!", an emphatic, shouty track with nods to electro, "Deeper Love," where house tropes met with stadium rock and arena electronic fizz, and "Shark Attack," a glitchy cut that seems like it's all drop.  
"We had so many tracks on the back-burner, so that was the time -- ride that momentum, build it and build it," Vogel says. "For six or eight months after 'Feel the Volume,' we didn't play any shows, just put out as many tracks as I could, built the the hype, built the hype. And I've been on the road ever since."
That long run of live dates included marquee appearances at many of electronic music's biggest festivals: Ultra (the flagship Miami event as well as an offshoot in Japan) and Tomorrowland, Sun City Festival and Something Wicked, EDC New York and EDC Las Vegas' main stage. He reached nautical dancing enthusiasts via the Mad Decent Boat Party and Holy Ship!, Halloween-lovers at Chicago's Freaky Deaky Fest, and rock-heads looking for a little extra bass in their lives at Lollapalooza.
During an on-stage anointing of sorts in February 2016, a stream of guests joined Vogel on stage in L.A.: Skrillex and Diplo, Borgore, Marshmello, and more. By the summer of 2016, he landed his own Vegas residency. And in December, he announced the Off the Deep End tour, a 12-date run "dedicated to the die-hard fans" that wraps up in Atlanta on March 11.
With a stream of releases behind him proving his versatility, Vogel is now looking to achieve inescapability. "The vocal-driven frontier is the only one I haven't gone down," he says. 
"Up until this point, I've been writing tracks that DJs will play the drops of mashed up with some big track; they'll take [DJ Snake and Justin Bieber's] 'Let Me Love You' and mash it up with [Jauz's] 'Rock the Party.' Now my goal is to start writing the records that people will use as the beginning of the mash-up, something that's so catchy that they'll use the intro of my track and then build it up into something else. Those are the kind of records I have to start putting out; the records that become songs, not tracks."
"I don't want to say I'm maturing, that sounds cliche," he continues. "But I guess that's the best way to put it." 

Jauz is currently crisscrossing North America on his Off the Deep End tour. Tickets are available here.
Jauz 'Off The Deep End' Tour Flyer
Courtesy Photo
Jauz 'Off The Deep End' Tour Flyer

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