Interviewed by Stephanie Rosa
Photo by Don Idio
Its a widely known fact that sharks are at the top of the food chain across our oceans worldwide. This fact seems to ring true in the world of electronic dance music. Sam Vogel, or better known as JAUZ, is a hybrid human-shark. At just the ripe age of 19, JAUZ started to attract the attention of other sharks in the industry, such as Skrillex, Diplo and Borgore. By the time he was 20, he released his first single with Mad Decent. Now at just 23, JAUZ is at the top of the electronic music food chain. Pulling influence from UK bassline, tech house and his love for heavy metal, JAUZ has managed to form what is known as Shark Squad; a devout following of those who feed on his consistent drops, genre bending remixes and fun throwbacks.
From pup to full grown shark in just a matter of 3 years, JAUZ has played all over the world and at some of the largest festivals that you can think of, including EDC Las Vegas. He is no stranger to the main stage, although he seems humbled by each journey he embarks on and each stage he plays.
On Sunday, June 11th JAUZ once again hit a main stage, but this time at Spring Awakening Music Festival in Adams Medill Park in Chicago, Illinois. JAUZ took the stage and blended his original tracks with remixes and dropped new songs, including a brand new, never played remix of Lil Uzi Vert’s XO TOUR Llif3.
After an incredible JAUZ-dropping performance, Festival Squad met up with the Shark Squad leader to talk about his love for Chicago, his upcoming European tour, his love for heavy metal, and of course new music. JAUZ promises a new track this week, before EDC Las Vegas 2017, an EP very soon, and a ton of new music before 2018. Check out the full interview on our Soundcloud, or read the entire transcript below.
Festival Squad: Hey guys, this is Stephanie here with Festival Squad and we’ve got the Shark Squad leader, better known as JAUZ with us today. JAUZ is from LA but has been traveling all around the world to headline major festivals as well as touring and is now kicking off the summer with us here in Chicago at Spring Awakening Music Festival. JAUZ, or Sam, thanks for taking the time to chat with our Squad!
JAUZ: Thanks for having me!
FS: You just finished a killer performance on the main stage full of surprises including Vega Bus, question one… HOW DOES IT FEEL TO COME OFF THE MAIN STAGE LIKE THAT?
JAUZ: Uh, weird. Definitely weird. When I did Freaky Deaky last year, which is almost like the same festival as Spring Awakening. I played on… not the main stage, I played on a big stage. But I don’t think the main stage, maybe it was the bass stage… whatever it was… but that felt right. You know? Like, theres certain shows that I go in and I’m like “yeah, this seems like where I would play.” It seems like the stage I would be at if I was a fan. And every time that I play shows on main stages like that.. ya know.. playing into Alesso which is actually the exact set up as when I played EDC Main Stage last year. I played into Alesso. And both times its like damn, how does that make sense? To me, I don’t get it. You know, it could be like… someone crazy famous and then Alesso who is someone who is crazy famous and then Garrix who is you know… Garrix. For me to make the music that I make and play the music that I play and be on a main stage that is that gigantic… its crazy! Its really cool.
FS: Definitely. Well, you switch it up really nicely.
JAUZ: I try my best!
FS: I think that’s awesome, congratulations on being back here. Chicago fans definitely love you. We are happy to have you back, like I just said. We do have some fans who have asked specifically “What is your favorite city to play in, and why is it Chicago?”
JAUZ: [Laughs] Um, you know… I really do love playing in Chicago. For real. All those people that you saw out there, huddling around that table, that’s like my family. They all live in Chicago. When I was a kid, I would come to Chicago once or twice a year because my whole moms side of my family lives here. So Chicago has kind of felt like a second home when I was growing up. And then it just happened to be that Chicago is one of the strongest markets in the world for electronic music. And specifically for bass music. And I remember I came here and I played the Concord, first time when I was on tour with Borgore. This was like three years ago at this point. It was one of the last shows I think on like a 30 show run. Or 25 shows in 30 days. Something like that, it was gnarly. That was also my first time touring, ever. And not many people really knew me. There were a couple of cities that I had a good following and kids would say whats up, like outside the tour bus or whatever. But Chicago was the first time that I went to where I was like holy shit! This crowd is insane and I played so early. You know, for a crowd to be that into it and like, pack out a room that early was insane to me. And I guess our love affair with me and Chicago kind of started there and every time that I would come it would just get crazier and crazier and crazier and crazier. And you know what? As I am saying this out loud… I actually just lied. The first time I played in Chicago was New Years right before that tour started with Zeds Dead at the Aaragon.
FS: Was that at Reaction?
JAUZ: No, it was Zeds Dead New Years thing. They did like two shows at the Aaragon. And it was me Jemba, and them. I played really early. There was like one opener and then me. And then Jemba. So its like 15 minutes before my set and I was like “Fuck, theres no one here. Fuck! Ugh, this is gonna suck… its like my first show ever… no!” Its such a big room and the second I stepped out… and once I saw that I was like I’m not going out on stage until the second that my set starts. Cause I don’t want to trip myself out. And l walked on stage two minutes before my set and it was PFFFFTTT. Like… by that I mean it was like halfway full. Which is still a lot of kids!
FS: For the Aaragon, yeah!
JAUZ: Its like two thousand, three thousand kids and then like halfway through my set it was totally rammed. And that was like, insanity to me because that was basically my second show ever.
FS: And now here you are, playing at the main stage where literally the crowd went all the way past the ferris wheel, so its got to be a neat experience.
JAUZ: That and Lollapalooza. I mean, Lollapalooza is its own monster. I don’t even think its safe or fair to judge Chicago on Lollapalooza because its an international event. Its like saying that Ultra is a Miami crowd. Its not. Its maybe 50% or 40% Miami, and 50 or 60% international.
FS: Definitely. It’s a huge festival. Lolla is our biggest one for sure.
JAUZ: Yeah. Its like Outsidelands in San Francisco. Outsidelands is a lot smaller scale. Lollapalooza is one of the most legendary festivals in the world.
FS: And you’re playing [at Lollapalooza] Paris this year, are you excited about that? The inaugural [Lollapalooza] Paris festival this year!
JAUZ: Yea, its going to be insane. But, before I forget.. I want to keep this focused on Chicago. My whole point with all of that is that I think Spring Awakening and shows like this are really good measure of a real Chicago crowd. You know what I mean? For it to be a Chicago show and not like Lollapalooza, to have such a ridiculous amount of people…
FS: You love our city!
JAUZ: That and Lou Malnatis. The fans and Lou Malnatis. That’s all I need.
FS: You do like deep dish then! Well, on the topic of travel here, we noticed that you do travel a ton (obviously). But you really seem to love and appreciate it. You’ve said to your fans and I quote “Traveling will change you as a person.. for the better.” Where has been your favorite place to travel to outside of the U.S. and why?
JAUZ: Um… its tough because there are a lot of places that are so different, you know. But, I put a lot of thought into that actually and theres a difference between your favorite place to visit and where you would want to move. You know what I mean?
JAUZ: Is London my favorite place to go on vacation? No. But would I move to London and live there for 4-5 months? Abso-fuckin-lutely. My number one place that I would move in a heartbeat and never come back is Australia. Pretty much any city, at all.
FS: I was going to ask you, East or West Coast?
JAUZ: I mean, it really doesn’t matter. If I had to pick my number one city it would probably be Sydney, I don’t really know why. But, I just got the best vibe from Sydney. My favorite place to travel and also a place I would love to live, is Tokyo.
FS: I noticed that on your Twitter too. You’ve talked about the crowds and how much energy they have there, and I see that you’re wearing a Japan patch on your hat as well. Very cool!
JAUZ: I actually bought this hat in Australia. Ironically enough.
FS: Two of your favorite places, that’s great!
JAUZ: Wait no! I bought this the first time I went to Tokyo, the last day I was there cause I was like I will be a fucking idiot if I wear a fucking Japan hat in Tokyo. But it’ll be sick when I got back to America.
FS: And it looks great on you! Well, we know that you’re gearing up for a pretty big run in Europe and we kind of touched on that. We know that your first stop is Ibiza which is awesome because I will be at that show, so can you tell us how you gear up for another continent and specifically do you make changes in what you play based on the country and what they like musically?
JAUZ: Absolutely. You know, for me going over to Europe and the UK, its cool because a lot of my influence comes from there.
FS: From the UK, sure.
JAUZ: Actual UK Garage and Bassline and that kind of shit that I really love, doesn’t necessarily translate in America. But I can get away with playing as much of it as I want over there. But I will say I try not to go overboard trying to make like a UK or European or whatever set because they book you to be you. The first time that I went to Europe, I had like a nervous fucking breakdown.
FS: Why is that?
JAUZ: Because I was like “these kids are not going to want to hear American bass house, blah blah blah whatever” and I was freaking out trying to figure out how to make a cool set where I could still play my stuff and at a certain point it just snapped. And I was like you know what, fuck it. I am here to be me if they wanted someone who played shit that wasn’t like me… they would have booked someone else. So I went out and the first couple times I went out I played pretty much the same… and this is what I still do, to be fair… pretty much the same set I would play in America. But, where there are certain throwbacks and “crowd pleaser” tracks, those I would swap out for stuff that works well in the UK. Or in Europe. Theres actually one song that I played in my set today that Tiesto record.. what the fuck is it… [hums the song]. What the fuck is that song called?! It’s a super old school electronic record, and the guy who made it originally, Cause the Tiesto one is a remake, the guy who originally made it is from Italy. Its like the #1 song in the history of Italy. So every time I play in Italy, I play that track and its like playing the fucking Star Spangled Banner.
FS: People go wild?
JAUZ: Yeah, I don’t think there’s actually a song in America that people would go as crazy for as people do when they hear that record. So yeah, there’s stuff like that that’s always cool to do. It’s part of the challenge I think.
FS: I think that’s awesome and the crowd certainly loved it [throwbacks] today too. So, swinging back around to music, and I just have a few more questions for you here… who are your current musical inspirations?
JAUZ: [Sighs] Ohhh fuck. That’s tough. You know, I try not to listen to a lot of electronic music because when I’m writing electronic music it’s really hard not to be influenced by and try to copy shit that you hear. Which is inevitable, you know. It’s gonna happen, its fine. But, I try my best to stay away from listening to like what’s really new and popping or whatever.
FS: So what do you listen to then? And what would you say, and I believe someone has asked this question, is your number one song on your Spotify playlist or your iTunes right now?
JAUZ: Ugh.. umm.. The number one track as of late is this remix by this dude from the UK. This is actually an electronic track. His name is Patrick Topping. He’s like a super techy fuckin UK… I would call it tech house. It’s pretty much tech house. It’s this one remix that I found on Spotify like their housework playlist. Which is all real deep house, techno.. that kind of shit that I would never play in a normal set. So I can get away with listening to it at home and not like… it’s actually influenced me to start writing shit that’s more like that which is cool, I have a lot of fun doing it. But, it is so far away from my bread and butter that it doesn’t really ruin my creative process when I try to make my normal shit. Other than that, I am a metal head. That’s like my shit.
FS: So you like to head bang?
JAUZ: Yea. My number one played album right now is… I can’t remember what its called but whatever Bring Me The Horizon’s newest album is. Yeah.
FS: And have you seen them live?
JAUZ: I actually just went to their show in LA a couple months ago. It was me, Kayzo and Ookay and Youltron, we just realized that we were metal heads. And Dotcom’s tour manager is like boys with all the metal guys. He was a tour manager for all the metal bands back in the day, so he got us these super sick backstage VIP passes and like you know, for us hanging out backstage here is like whatever but we were all like “OH MY GOD!”. We were walking around the backstage to try and go to the bathroom or something and we like accidentally walked into where Bringing The Horizon was getting ready to go on stage.
FS: So in the green room then?
JAUZ: They were like right behind the stage you know, like prepping to run up and like I was literally this close to them! And I was just like [sigh]!
JAUZ: Literally! All four of us! Fucking starstuck. You know, if it was anyone in electronic music we would just be like “oh, whats up”, but with them we were like [pause] and just kept walking. Didn’t say a fucking word. It was so funny.
FS: That sounds awesome. Thanks for sharing that story with us, I think fans will like to hear that definitely. So a couple of other of fan questions now because Festival Squad is a fan curated site so we definitely had to get readers involved in this interview so the following questions are direct from your fans. A couple of fans have asked: what happened to the EP?
JAUZ: [Big sigh] I’m glad that someone asked. So, I put the first two songs out and there were two more songs. So I was always planning on doing like one a week or doing the first two and waiting and then doing the second two. One of the last two songs, is a song that I made with a producer that I won’t say by name because I don’t want to throw him under the bus. Cause I love him and the song is incredible. But I didn’t know until we were about to put it out that there was a sample in it that’s from another song.
FS: AH. Copyright issues.
JAUZ: Yes. So, to get it cleared was going to be a fucking bitch. We are currently in the process of trying to replicate the sample and its being so impossible. I’m pretty much ready to pay you know, whatever money it is to just get it over with. But what my actual goal has been, is to finish another song and make that the third or fourth track on the EP. And so literally a week ago I was like fuck it. And I told my management to put out,so they’re scheduling right now, because you know you have to do all that bullshit with Spotify, which I don’t really know about… that’s why they manage and I do what I do. But I told them to schedule the tracks which will come out before EDC. Third record on the EP. So now I have this ticking time bomb. I have like 25 tracks I have to pick one and finish it and it’ll be the fourth track on the EP so we can get over this and move on. Cause I’ve written so much shit but until I finish this EP bullshit I just can’t do anything else.
FS: But its coming! That’s good to hear
JAUZ: There will be a new song before EDC.
FS: And specifically, fans have asked when you’re releasing the track with Zeds Dead? Can we expect that on the EP?
JAUZ: No [laughs]. That song has been written so many times and we’ll write a song, and we think its cool, and we don’t really think its cool. Or I don’t really think its cool anymore. Or they don’t really think its cool anymore. And we tried to write something together so many times, it just whatever. It hasn’t worked out. But we are 100% getting in the studio and writing at least one if not more. I mean, I hope its going to be a dope record. I don’t really care at this point, I just want to do something with them.
FS: Sounds good, three left here! Well, actually two because you answered one of them. So whats next for JAUZ?
JAUZ: I mean, I guess kind of what we were talking about, you know, there will be a track out before EDC, then shortly after that a fourth track for the EP, whatever the fuck it will be, we don’t know yet. It’ll be a surprise to all of us [laughs]. And then after that, I have a shitload, like so much music to put out the last half of the year. Like so much. Like I’m actually having trouble trying to figure out how I’m going to like put it all out without it all laying over eachother. I want to let each song shine, get the attention it deserves, but at this point I’m like fuck this. I just want to get music out there.
FS: Sounds great and last question. Are you part shark?
JAUZ: Uhhhh… I am going to leave that one up to the fans. They can decide that for themselves. I’m not going to spoil the mystery! [Laughs]
FS: Well Sam, thank you so much for spending the time with us and well catch you at your next festival and on tour! THANKS!