INTERVIEW: Jauz discusses new 23-track concept album
“With the album, I didn’t want people to think… Oh this is some poppy bullsh*t, Jauz sold out!”
Having carved a reputation as one of dance music’s most exciting and innovative acts, Jauz has elevated himself to the summit of the bass sub-genre in recent years. His top tier productions have caught the eye of artist heavyweights including Skrillex and Diplo, with the latter signing his anthem ‘Feel The Volume’ to his esteemed ‘Mad Decent’ label in 2014, surging over 12 million Spotify streams in the process.
Meeting up with the Californian at his London-based apartment ahead of his UK shows at SW4, Reading & Leeds Festival, and Creamfields, the first thing that becomes apparently obvious about Sam (Jauz)’s approach to life is that it mirrors his creative process in the studio. A laid-back character who takes everything in his stride, Sam slouches on the sofa, sunglasses on, his soothing LA accent talking us through his recent hectic touring schedule. “I just played Germany, and then Austria, and yeah… the jet-lag is real sometimes,” he laughs.
For Jauz, this moment marks a landmark crossroads in his career. His new 23 track album ‘The Wise and The Wicked’ demonstrates the polar opposites of Sam’s brilliantly diverse sound and is the eclectic soundtrack to the next chapter in his music career. Following his recent performance on the Musical Freedom stage at Tomorrowland, the release of the album felt like a good place to start our conversation.
This is what happened, when We Rave You met Jauz…
How did the concept for the album first come about?
“Well the idea was actually a complete afterthought to be honest, I made the music and among all the demos, I didn’t know what I should do for the title of my album, so I realised, ‘Maybe I should make it a concept album?’
I realised I have these two sides of my brain (The Wise, and The Wicked) that can act like these two warring factions, and then when I had this concept, do these songs make sense and do they fit? I wanted to have the orchestral elements that is does, but also, I didn’t want it to feel like such a departure from my bread and butter. I didn’t want it to be songs I could never play in regular sets.”
Were you concerned that people might say ‘Jauz is changing his sound’, or think that you are moving away from bass-heavy dance music?
“Well when we first came up with the concept of the album, we were going to put it out in three sections. I felt like there was no way we should do that because if we put ‘The Wise’ section out first, then everyone is going to feel like… “Oh this is some poppy bullsh*t, Jauz sold out!”
If I put ‘The Wicked’ stuff out first, people are going to be like… “This is just a bunch of bangers and garbage.” In short, that is the resolution of the album. That you can take part of the emotional songs and parts of the aggressive songs and put them together and make something that is bigger than the two halves of the whole, which is kind of the whole point. The message of the album is that you don’t have to be this or that, you can pull elements from all your influences from all your elements and create a bigger, better product.”
In all honesty… Not many dance music artists decide to release a full album these days. So why did you decide to go down this route?
“Oh for sure! For someone like me, who makes as many types of music as I can, just putting out singles once every three months is really difficult, as if I put out one single every three months, that is what people know me for. Let’s say I put out a tech-house record tomorrow, and I didn’t put out another record for like three months… People immediately think I’m now a tech-house artist. When I first started putting out music in 2014 and 2015, I was putting a song out every two weeks, and there were times when I didn’t have a song to put out, but had to write a song and get it out there as that was just the business model. The more that my career built, the more that we slowed down that time frame, and there is a huge amount of weight and pressure that is placed on a single right now. You can’t just put them out and move onto the next thing. The biggest goal for me for the album is to completely bypass the whole stigma that is currently happening, and put out a ton of music all the time. Technically I should be in chill mode right now because I just wrote a 23 song album, but I’m still up until 5am every night writing music again and making new singles.”
With your live shows would you say your sound is more of a representation of ‘The United’, so, a combination of the two elements? And would you consider splitting them in future?
“Yeah, the album is kind of like the seeding for ‘The Wicked’ to grow. In September, I’ll be doing a festival where that is going to be the first time I do a set as just ‘The Wicked’. If you love my music but you love the more dubstep ‘heavier’ side, you go see The Wicked set. If you want to hear the deep tech and melodic stuff that I make, you go to ‘The Wise.’ If you like all of it you go to the normal Jauz or ‘United’ set. My goal is to play at the same festival three days in a row with three different sets. The whole concept just kind of compounds on itself and there are so many different things we can do with it. That is the end goal for all of this, to bring this into a live setting.”
The album features a lot of different collaborations, so how did you decide on these, and decide who you wanted to work with?
“Well I almost wanted to balance it the way I balance The Wise and The Wicked side of the album. Half of the collaborations are people who I have looked up to for a long time who have had big influence on my career and been there since the beginning. People like Krewella; DJ Snake and Adventure Club. In fact, I’ve known Adventure Club since I was 16 years old, so Leyton got in touch and said we should do something together. The other side of the album is full of people like Holy Goof, all these kids that I now work with now that I run a record label, and these kids that have taught me so much having worked with them. I wanted it to be a homage to all those that got me to where I am and to pass the torch to the next generation. These kids are such fresh talents, and when you are just starting to make music and don’t know anything technically, you don’t think about a track as in ‘Is this a song that will work on Spotify?’ – You have the most incredible, genius ideas, and they are better ideas than anything you’ll make for the rest of your life. I didn’t want to be seen as that guy that was just poaching songs for a record label, I’m producer’s producer. There is a lot of pride that comes in writing music. But I’ve learnt so much from working with all those kids, and I could never write what they are writing. So big respect to those guys because I don’t know what the album would have been filled with if it hadn’t been for those guys.”
You’ve recently completed over 50 shows in around 70 days, how do you ensure you get the right amount of rest, and what do you like to do to relax?
“Yeah, 55 shows in 70 days! And being on a tour bus for that kind of time is difficult enough as it is. But I only work when I don’t feel pressured, that’s when I’m most creative. Like this week, I’ve been sat here for 4 days, going to places Carnaby Street and eating good food, but honestly, video games are my big release. I’m an undercover nerd, I don’t even play the video games that are cool now though! But I love London, I love this city… I don’t know if I could live here though, but I like to play games, to explore the city, and that’s what makes me feel relaxed and creative. When I’m at home in LA, I just sit at home with my girlfriend and our dogs and do nothing. I’m gonna sit on my ass and play video games and not wear any pants for a few days, and you need that, because if you’re going non-stop it’s a dangerous path to be on. If you wanna be around for 10 years… 20 years… 45,000 years like Tiesto… then that doesn’t happen by burning yourself out. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen this year, it can happen, but fortunately for me, my career isn’t as meteoric as someone who can be put in a position like that.
For me, the plan is, I’m just going to put out an album with way too many songs on it and take people off guard. And then I’m going to put out more music when people wouldn’t put out music for 6 months, and just get in back into this groove of putting out music all the time, and hope that in 3 months time from now… I keep my word!”
‘The Wise and The Wicked’ is out now, and displays Jauz’s dynamic diversity across all 23 tracks. You can check it out below and let us know your thoughts in the comments!