When Sam Vogel shows up at L.A. Center Studios for the Mad Decent Block Party on Saturday afternoon, he’ll likely fit in with most of the crowd. After all, he’s a fresh-faced 22-year-old fan of electronic music who grew up in NorCal before moving to L.A. to go to Loyola Marymount. It's a familiar story at most of L.A.'s electronic shows.
But unlike most of the college-aged crowd, Vogel will be performing that day.
Vogel, better known as Jauz, is one of electronic music’s brightest young stars. At this point, Vogel has worked with some of the biggest names in the scene (see: Skrillex) and toured the country with Diplo and Major Lazer for this summer’s string of Mad Decent Block Parties. The electronic performer and producer was a bit starstruck at first, but Vogel’s found his bearings over the course of the last year.
“Working with all of these guys was insane at first, but now it might be even cooler because I know that we’re all just normal guys,” Vogel says. “We’re all kind of the same, and I think I’ve bonded with a lot of them so quickly because we have very similar personalities.”
With names ranging from Diplo to Vic Mensa, Major Lazer to T-Pain, L.A.’s two-day stop on the eighth year of the Mad Decent Block Party tour will bring a substantial hometown crowd out for Vogel. It’ll be a nice change of pace for the young producer, who tries not to play L.A. too much but still believes the area has one of the best electronic scenes in the world.
“Doing the Block Parties in other places, it’s like one big touring family and it’s been a lot of fun,” Vogel says. “I get to meet new people and expose my music to new demographics. But really, L.A. still has the best electronic music fans of anywhere I’ve been.”
Although Vogel has only reached the ears of most electronic fans through the success of Jauz over the past year, his borderline-obsessive, nerd-like passion for music goes back many years. Before creating Jauz, the Icon Collective Production School alumnus had already been creating and producing music for most of his life.
“Fans come up to me and say they think I’m awesome and I’m like, ‘I was you a year ago,’” Vogel says. “I’ve been creating electronic music for about six years, and even before I was into electronic music, I was writing music and playing guitar for about 12 years. There’s a lot of work that people don’t see.”
Those years of writing, recording and producing ultimately add up to the futuristic, genre-escaping sound he's known for today, which can be as exploratory as it is catchy and danceable, incorporating elements of everything from electro-house and dubstep to hip-hop and bass music. Truthfully, that’s how Vogel likes it, and he hopes to continue to be on the frontlines of boundary-busting electronic music for years to come.
“The reason I love electronic music the most is that making the music is really infinitely expansive,” Vogel says. “When you’re making music on a computer, you can do anything, from record a live band to create totally electronic music. There’s so much room for blending between those and everything else, we don’t even know what’s possible. In the next few years, you’re going to see electronic music that hasn’t even been discovered or experimented with yet. I want to be one of the people leading that.”
As for the more immediate future, Vogel has his first EP lined up to release shortly after his appearance at Mad Decent Block Party this weekend. While he couldn’t say exactly when it was due to release, the young artist knows exactly how important a debut collection of songs can be.
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“I put it off for a while because I knew it had to be the end-all, be-all of my music right now,” Vogel says. “I want it to be so when someone asks me what my music is like or what I’m about, I can just let them listen to the EP and not even have to explain it. I want to let the music do the explaining.”
Mad Decent Block Party happens this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 19-20, at L.A. Center Studios.