Justin Blau better known by his stage name, 3LAU, is an artist who’s about to create a revolution within the electronic dance music scene. I consider 3LAU an artist and not a musician because he is so much more than just a musician; he is an artist. Being a multi-talented individual, he converges his technical skills sets and synchronizes them into various forms to create a foundation that not only creates beautiful music for his fans but saves lives in Guatemala and educates the youth. With the launch of his new not-for-profit record label, Blume, 3LAU is every single dollar the label makes to Pencils of Promise which builds schools around the developing world. 2016 is going to be 3LAU’s year ... just you wait and see.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Let’s start this off casually. You are THE MAN when it comes to big room bangers. How do you go about selecting songs to remix?
That’s a really interesting question actually. Honestly, I won’t remix a song I don’t like. I never have. Anything I’ve remixed someone sends me like “hey can you remix this?” If I don’t like it, I won’t remix it. If I’m inspired, I’m like “okay, let’s remix this!” I just did a remix for "Stitches" by Shawn Mendes which is killing it on the internet right now. That wasn’t really me, I reached out to his manager like “hey, can I remix this.” He said absolutely. It’s really about what I like.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: So what do you like?
I like everything to be honest. I care more about the music in something than they production. Everyone’s talking about trap, deep house, electro, or whatever… For me, if the song is good, I love it so that’s why I play everything in my set.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: I know you just said you don’t care for production but when it comes to production, you’ve released some top hits like “How You Love me,” “Escape,” & “The Night.” The one thing I’ve noticed is that Bright Lights has been your go-to vocalist. How did you two start collaborating with one another?
Well she’s actually the vocalist in “Language” by Porter Robinson. She’s not credited in the actual title. I heard “Language,” and I just thought I had to work with this girl. I pursued her for a long time. There are so many DJs that try to get her to sing on their tracks. When she heard the instrumental for “How You Love Me,” she loved it. She wrote the lyrics for “How You Love Me,” in a day and sent me a demo. That was it!
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: So do you usually produce the music and get someone else to write the lyrics?
Not always. It depends. The new record I played tonight is called “Is It Love?” It’s one of my groovier records. We wrote it together while I was in Australia. It just depends on the song.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Are there any other vocalists you really respect and want to work with?
I really wanted to work with Emma Hewitt and I had the privilege of working with her. She’s such an iconic trance vocalist. We did a song called “Alive Again,” and that was amazing. I really really want to work with some unique vocalists in the future. I think if I could work with someone their voice would have to be very unique like Halsey. The unique voices are what I really love. Hopefully after my new tracks come out, I’ll have the opportunity of doing that.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Growing up, you’ve played guitar and piano. What made you want to breach into electronic dance music?
I actually visited Sweden with one of my roommates, Johan. We went with one of my other best friends, Steven. When I went to Sweden I was blown away by the culture. This was pre-Avicii before anyone in the United States even knew who he was. I then wanted to DJ and try it. I had to learn the musical background and the science behind production. I started doing that in my college dorm room when I was a sophomore.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: You didn’t breach into music into later on in life. I hate to ask this question because it’s usually always the same answer but for you, I’d love to know who influenced your musical journey and who is your most recent inspirations?
It’s changed over time to be completely honest. The first inspiration for me was Porter Robinson because he was doing exactly what I wanted to do. I was an American kid, he was an American kid. He was a prodigy killing the game and I was creating really unique music at the time. People didn’t know who he was and now he’s created one of the coolest dance music albums of all time. My inspirations have evolved over time as the years have gone by whether it’s new artists or old artists. Calvin Harris is the pop king, Tiesto is the most versatile producer and DJ, Martin is a really close friend of mine and he always kills it. He has so much energy and is so excited about what he does. I think I draw a lot of inspiration from a lot of my friends. I’m proud to call them my friends.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Going beyond music, you have deep philanthropic values. It’s such an admirable trait especially for someone as young and successful as you are. What made you want to invest in Pencils of Promise?
All of my philanthropy work in the past hasn’t been something since I’ve been a DJ. I’ve actually been really involved in philanthropy ever since I was 15 years old. When I was 15, I started a micro-bank out of my high school. In college I did more work with micro-finance in education. I realized education is what I am really passionate about and that’s when I partnered with Pencils of Promise. We built a school in Guatemala. I actually visited the school with Sophia Bush from One Tree Hill. We both built schools in Guatemala and had one week trips where we met the children and the parents. It was an amazing experience. That was with 25 grand. Since then we’ve raised 100 grand towards building schools and the developing world. This year starting next week I am launching my record label which is not-for-profit label called Blume. Every song that comes out of my label and every single dollar we make will go to charity with the goal of raising another $100,000 for Pencils of Promise. When we reach $200,000 total, I’m going to bring 8 fans with me to visit the schools ideally by the end of 2016. We are really excited! My newest song is going to be on my label, Blume, and we’re excited to be raising money and bringing fans down to see what their personal impact can have on developing countries and education.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: That is absolutely and utterly amazing. Back in college, I also worked in philanthropy for an organization called, SHARE, where we raised money for women’s education in Africa.
That’s what I love most, being able to give back.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Hypothetically, if you weren’t producing music, what would you be doing?
I’d be in finance at a boring banking job in New York City. I think this is a pretty good alternative.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Last question but it’s always my favorite question… What is Justin Blau’s spirit animal?
Ooooh. It’s a complicated answer but I would say the phoenix.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Is it because you always rise from the ashes?
The symbolism behind 3LAU and the 3 all has to do with rebirth and it’s ideologies… It’s a discussion we can have next time!
AUTHOR CREDIT: KIMBERLY PHAN