When Las Vegas-based DJ Justin Blau embarked on his EDM journey, it was only a dream that he’d play Electric Daisy Carnival. Now he’s a festival veteran with a steady Strip nightclub presence to boot. We caught up with 3LAU to talk about his return to EDC and new musical projects.
Growing up in Vegas, did you think it would ever become the EDM mecca it is now? I can’t say that I did. Vegas is changing right now, too. I think now a lot of clubs are starting to compartmentalize. The biggest DJs are staying on, the smaller ones are kinda getting cut out, because they’re not selling as many bottles or tickets. Vegas is becoming more of a music mecca in totality than [just] an EDM mecca.
Without EDC I don’t think it would feel the same. Vegas is all about nightlife. EDC is the ultimate heightened version of every Cirque du Soleil show, every musical experience you could experience in Vegas, all packed into three days, like madness. It’s just shaped the expectations for what the city provides.
You’ve worked a ton with Bright Lights. Why do you think you two work so well together? I’m announcing this at EDC—I’m actually joining her project. Heather Bright and myself will make up the group called Bright Lights. Because Bright Lights is kind of an underdeveloped brand right now, I’m just coming onboard, and I’m actually producing her entire album. It’s almost done, actually. I’m playing the first single off the album at EDC. I’m beyond excited about it. It’s probably the best song I’ve been a part of.
What other new stuff can we expect to hear at EDC? I’m coming out with a record [this] week that’s been done for a year called “Always,” with an awesome rock singer. Following that I have a collaboration with Emma Hewitt, who’s huge in the trance world, arguably one of the biggest dance vocalists of all time. It’s a song that I’ve been working on for almost three years—that’s coming out on July 6.
You played EDC last year in both Vegas and New York City. How has your approach to the festival changed now that you’ve done it a few times? EDC New York is just another festival. It’s special, but what they have in Vegas is just on a whole other level of uniqueness and craziness. Pasquale [Rotella] is a genius for his unreal production ideas, for his ability to create a world so far removed from the one we live in. This year I’m most excited because it’s the first year I have a really solid set time and I’m gonna be doing so many new things. ... It’s almost like a new beginning. This year’s EDC is gonna mark a whole new chapter in my career.
Is there anything you do to mentally prepare for EDC? I stress a lot. It’s a very intense experience, getting ready for the festival. I’m very much a perfectionist. I want to make sure everything is perfectly executed, and I think it takes a lot of time to put all the pieces of the puzzle together to make my one hour really memorable for every single person in the crowd.
3LAU At Drai's Nightclub: June 18, 10:30 p.m., $20+ women, $30+ men. Drai's Beach Club: with Adventure Club and Dannic; June 20, 11 a.m., $20+ women, $40+ men.