I caught up with Jauz after his Spring Awakening Music Festival set in Chicago to talk about what he’d be doing if he weren’t a musician, why staying grounded is important, and if he really does like sharks.
I saw that you were going to film school before your music career. So, my question is, if you had a final film project or dissertation, what would it have been on?
So I actually—before I went to college, my high school actually had a film program. So for my junior and senior year, I was in this special program where the first half of the semester we’d do a full curriculum of English, History, and something else… I can’t remember. Then the second half of the semester, all we would do is make professional-grade documentaries.
The first one I did was a documentary profiling this guy who lived in the town over from me, he was a transgendered (person), and was all about… his experience with life, and how the dynamic—and this was still like, 6 years ago, and things have changed a lot since then… but where I grew up it was pretty progressive, so he was chillin’, he was fine. But yeah, it was about being a transgender person, a person in the LGBTQIA community, when he was growing up in the 70s to now. Then I did another one… I can’t remember what the other one was about. But if I could choose… I would probably just make a skate video. That’s what got me into film was these sick, really cinematic skate videos. I don’t think it would really work for a college dissertation, but maybe, who knows?
I think you could definitely do a documentary on that! So now I want to know, what is your favorite aquatic animal, and why?
Um, I feel like I’m supposed to say a shark—
You don’t have to say a shark.
I don’t know, dolphins are cute as fuck.
(Joanna: Sea turtles…)
Yeah, I don’t actually answer any of my own questions, I have an earpiece in and Joanna answers them all for me.
How long have you guys been dating?
Three years, in like a week!
I would imagine as an artist, and as someone dating an artist, to have that connection would be nice… after a show, I would think you’d be like “Okay this was fun, but now I want to hang out with my person”.
For sure. It’s super vital. It’s kept me super level headed touring. I saw so many people that I was friends with, or looked up to, fall down the rabbit hole because of touring or trying to chase chicks.
It must be boring and… depressing after a while, I would think.
Oh, super depressing. SUUUUPER depressing. And for me, I just wanna… do this. This is the one thing I ever wanted to do and I get to do it now, so I better fucking do everything I can to make sure that I continue to do that.
I was thinking about that. You know, I was watching you perform, and you really… you’ve risen so quickly. I mean obviously you put in a lot of hard work before that, but you kind of came out on the mainstream scene in 2014, and now in 2017 you’re playing these huge sets. But I think what’s interesting is, it seems like you have a great ability to read a crowd. How did you hone that ability? Was that something you had to work on, or was it just a natural gift?
Ummmm… I don’t know! I would personally say that I’m still not really that great at it, because I like to stick to my guns. I used to really think about reading crowds, yadda yadda yadda, and then at a certain point I was like, “you know, I’m gonna play whatever the fuck I wanna play, and if the crowd doesn’t like it, they can suck it.”
You played a Daniel Bedingfield remix and I was like, “he is the best DJ now.”
I’d stopped playing that for a while, it’s actually a remix I did 2 years ago. My whole goal for this set, and for EDC I’m going to kind of extrapolate on it, was to play as much of my music as I possibly could. And for this set, I still threw in like other people’s tracks, and throwbacks, whatever, but I really tried to make the point of playing as much of my music as I could.
It still felt really high energy and fun… even if I didn’t recognize every song, I was still into it.
Yeah, that’s kind of the way I want to take my career. It feels like more of a mature, for lack of a better word, thing to do. Maybe not every single song is a singalong, but you’re making a statement instead of trying to make everyone put their hands up in the air. Even though I still do that… a lot. (laughs)
Like you said though, this is what you want to do, so you’re creating a way to have that longevity in your career.
Yeah, and you have to have a balance of being an actual creative and also playing along to what people want.
You can’t go too far either way, because on one side you’ll be a savant that only people like me actually appreciate, and normal people are like, “I don’t get it”. Or then you turn into like, Cheesecake McFuckball, and—
That’s my middle name, so I’m very offended that you said that.
(laughs) So sorry. But yeah, you just cheese out so hard that no one fucks with you anymore.
That’s so true. Let’s talk about you some more—who would you like to collaborate with outside of the EDM sphere?
This band that I really love, one that I’ve been listening to for a long time, reached out to me not that long ago. I follow them on Twitter and they said something about a thing they did in LA, and I happened to tweet—I decided to tweet something witty at them—and I was like “eh, they won’t respond.” Then the lead singer messaged me and was like, “I had no idea that you knew who we were, we’re huge fans, let’s do something!” So now I’m doing a remix for them, and we’re talking about doing an actual song together. That would be incredible. I came up listening to rock and metal and playing guitar, so to be able to bring something like that into what I do here would be fucking awesome.
Have you played any guitar on your songs so far?
Are you going to?
I should! I bought a new guitar… I should have a nice, new guitar, I feel stupid not having one. But, I also bought this whole setup so I can basically play the guitar, but it’ll transfer the information into writing the notes into Ableton. So instead of clicking them out, or playing them on a keyboard, I can literally play the guitar like I normally would and it translates into actual MIDI information that I can use to make a bass, or a lead, or something like that. It’s a totally new way for me to write music that I haven’t gotten too deep into yet, but it’s something I’m really excited to go down the rabbit hole with. The melodies you make… obviously the guitar and the piano have the same exact notes, they’re just laid out differently. But because they’re laid out differently, you get totally different sounds and totally different melodies playing the guitar instead of playing the piano. So I think it would be really refreshing to bring that into the electronic world.
Oh yeah. I mean you could create something that’s so… organic sounding, for one, and also a bit more complex.
5 Senses With Jauz:
Sight: Looking into LA as I’m flying into it, because it means I get to chill at home for a little bit. Even though I don’t really get to chill when I’m at home anymore, which is fine. Or, actually, no. I take that back. In my hometown, I have this spot that we call Sunset, it’s up on a huge mountain, and you go there during sunset, and it’s the most beautiful view in the world.
Smell: Coffee! Easy. Coffee, for sure.
Taste: Now that’s a hard one. Hmmmm…. garlic.
Touch: Uhhhhh… Oh, wait. Shit. It’s gonna sound weird if I describe it. Let’s just go with sand. Sand.