Las Vegas native 3LAU is finding EDM success at a young age

Gone Viral: 3LAU has amassed more than 105,000 Facebook likes and nearly 5 million YouTube views.
Sam Glaser @sammyglaser


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Las Vegas native and Meadows School alum Justin “3LAU” Blau is graduating from mashups to original productions and big bookings—all before his college graduation. The 21-year-old finance major at Washington University in St. Louis interned for Credit Suisse before calculating that his music career would be more lucrative than investment banking.

3LAU grew up playing piano, guitar and singing. In 2011, he vacationed in Sweden, where he discovered electronic dance music. After returning to college he started producing mashups, “mainly because I didn’t think anyone was doing a good job.”

3LAU went viral. He credits blogs and college students for spreading his music, to the tune of 105,000-plus Facebook likes and more than 4.75 million YouTube views. “Internet virality is highly underestimated as the best marketing tool that exists,” 3LAU says. “I went from zero to something in a year.”

That “something” includes producing an official remix for Zedd; getting 3LAU mashups played by Hardwell, R3hab, Bob Sinclar and Porter Robinson; headlining a tour; selling out clubs and playing huge festivals alongside the world’s biggest producers—all while finding time to produce his upcoming debut EP Ad Astra (Latin for “to the stars”).

3LAU describes two important components in making the jump from producing remixes to original tracks: First, “Understanding the music itself … Not necessarily musical theory, but what’s catchy, what pops.” The second, he explains, is “the scientific production … what samples you’re using, how you process everything and how it all interrelates ...”

3LAU challenges big-room house music’s monotony, citing redundant bass lines, chord progressions and instruments. He predicts the most successful artists will bend genres to make fresh songs while retaining the original genre’s musicality. And 3LAU is determined to make hits that transcend setting, from radio to live performances: “Being able to bridge those two is what you can do to become one of the most successful artists out there.”

Even with the taste of success he’s found quickly, the DJ/producer is keeping things in perspective: “I got lucky in the sense that I started doing it as dance music started growing in the U.S. … A lot of people who listen to dance music don’t realize how many people still don’t. Sure, it’s definitely getting more popular, but it’s nowhere near the popularity that hip-hop achieved in the ’90s.”

While 3LAU prioritizes music, he reveals entrepreneurial ambitions for the future: “Dance music is being saturated in a very specific way, with large shows. There’s so much potential beyond paying $30 to see your favorite DJ play a set,” he says, citing Dayglow (a touring EDM neon-paint party) as an example.

Still, it’s not all business for 3LAU. He’s also working with Pencils of Promise, and donations from his live shows have already built one school in Guatemala, with a second in the works. Nice to see the young man giving back during his 3last off.

Tags: Nightlife

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