Wise Vs. Wicked: Dissecting The Duality & Ambitious Artistry Of Jauz

Exclusive interview with the LA-based artist/producer

Celebrated for his genre-defying approach, innovative productions, and unparalleled ability to captivate audiences, Jauz continues to lead the charge in reshaping the electronic music landscape. 

Originally from the Bay Area, Jauz (aka Sam Vogel) moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music and almost immediately started making waves. Garnering support early on from industry heavyweights like Zedd, Skrillex, Diplo, Borgore and others, the Icon Collective graduate quickly became a staple on major festival lineups and released a slew of sizzling singles, ranging from euphoric originals to viral remixes. 

In 2018, Jauz dropped his innovative debut album, The Wise and the Wicked, on his own artist label, Bite This!. Featuring a heap of collaborators such as DJ Snake, Kiiara, Krewella, and DUCKY, the 23-track concept album reached #1 on iTunes in just 90 minutes, earned over 20 million streams in less than three weeks and marked a significant milestone in the producer’s musical journey.

Fast forward to 2023, Jauz decided to celebrate TWATW’s fifth anniversary with a two-part album series, boasting all-original tracks that showcase the dichotomy of Jauz as a producer. The first installment, Rise of the Wise, was released over the summer and brought eight tracks geared towards melodic, progressive, and house-fueled sounds.

The Wrath of the Wicked installment, released in September, was curated “exclusively for the fans,” highlighting elements of dubstep and drum n’ bass with a darker twist that is comparable to Jauz’s OG sound. For example, WOTW features the dubstep track ”Mind Control,” a captivating exploration of sound that defies convention. With pulsating basslines, intricate synth arrangements, and masterful use of drops and builds, Jauz transports listeners to a realm that blends innovation and familiarity. 

The two albums are polar opposites and the dual album concept originates from the internal struggle that Jauz has faced as a human being and an artist. In the artistic landscape today, it seems that many want to be the jack-of-all-trades, but masters of none. With his extremely collaboration-heavy debut album, this project pushed Jauz to challenge himself to hone in on different subgenres and be as all-original as possible; marking a sign of growth and trust in himself as a producer. Wanting the ethos of each album to be at the forefront of the message and a reflection of who “Jauz” really is, the producer stresses that every track will still include elements of his signature style. 

“If my last album (Rise of the Wise) was the Yin, this one (Wrath of the Wicked) is the Yang,” Jauz says. “The whole goal behind both of these albums was to dive into the polar extremes of the sounds I’ve always made and push each direction to the limit.”

He continued, “With this album, it was all about creating the most ‘heavy’ version of Jauz I possibly could, which is perfectly represented by The Wicked. Even though every song on this album is dark and heavy, I think there’s still a really good spectrum of different songs on this album. Some are straight-up bangers, and some lean more into emotions, but the undertone of every record feels truly Wicked to me. I’m really excited for everyone to finally get to hear all these tracks I’ve been working on for so long and also finally get to play them out live, because a lot of them I’ve been keeping a secret for a while.” 

Alongside the project, comes a national tour in which fans have the choice to attend either a Wise or Wicked experience, or both, allowing new fanbases to be reached and providing an opportunity for audiences to explore their own internal duality. 

Loop Magazine recently caught up with Jauz—who just played a Wise show at Academy LAand chatted about his anniversary project, his evolution as an artist and producer, Los Angeles nightlife and more. Check out our exclusive interview below.

Tell us the origin story of Jauz. 

From a really young age I always knew music was going to be my livelihood, in some shape or form. I got really serious about it when I started high school, had been playing guitar for a few years and had my mind set on being a guitar player in a metal band. After a few years of trying to put bands together that didn’t really pan out, a friend of mine at school showed me how you could make hip hop beats on your computer by yourself (I believe the program being used was an early form of Reason). Not long after that I was introduced to the heavier sides of the dance music realm and saw the similarities between that and metal, and made the decision to dive head first into learning how to make electronic music on my laptop. The rest is history, as they say.

The name “Jauz” also actually came from high school – it was a slang term the kids in the grade below me would use, essentially to say someone was bullshitting, or talking out of their ass. I always thought the word was so dumb, so I thought it would be funny to flip it into something totally different and make it my brand identity. It was short, easy to remember, obviously would have references to the shark, etc.

Do you remember your first gig?

I sure do. It was my junior year of high school; I believe I was 16 years old. I showed up to this event a friend of mine threw at a rec hall near my hometown, and quickly realized that the crowd in front of me wanted to hear nothing but bay area rap and hip hop. I stuck to my guns and proceeded to play about 15 minutes of extremely heavy dubstep and drum and bass, until kids literally started climbing up onto the stage and threatening me verbally and physically until my friend who was the “promoter” had no choice but to pull me off the stage. After that experience, basically everything else negative show-wise pales in comparison, so I think it was actually the perfect first gig to have.

How does Los Angeles nightlife compare to other markets?

Honestly, I’m really torn on LA nightlife as a whole. On one side, I truly believe it is the “Mecca” for dance music in the United States. It’s one of, if not the most accepting and progressive crowds, and are always first to champion the up and coming kids in the scene before anywhere else in the country. However, on the other side, LA gets SO MUCH incredible talent on a nightly basis, that it gets to the point where they’re almost spoiled – they’ve seen and heard everything, and almost nothing you can do will ever impress them. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it just means you really have to turn it to 11 when you come into LA for a show I think.

What do you consider your big break moment or turning point where you realized DJing was not just a passion, but something where you could really make your mark on the music industry?

I’ll be clear here – I don’t think I ever had that realization about DJ’ing. It has always been music producer first for me. I compare myself to a band – me being the studio is the same as a band going in to record an album, and me “DJing” is the equivalent of a band going out on tour and performing. I’ve never quantified myself as a DJ. With that said though, I’m not really sure I ever had a moment where I realized, “I’m doing something really important here.” It was more of a “Wow, people seem to actually like what I’m doing!” And I just kept rolling with it, never letting my head get above water, treating every day as if I’m still that kid in my parent’s house trying to figure out how the hell to make a career out of this music thing.

Your music has been described as genre-bending. How would you describe your sound and your experimental process in creating music.

I guess that’s a fair way to put it. Ever since I really “came into my own” as a producer, so to speak, I realized that my “power” was not conforming to just one sound or genre and allowing myself to just be creative in whatever style it presented itself as on that given day. The less thought I put into what I’m making, the better the end result is generally.

What was it about your debut album, The Wise and the Wicked, that inspired you to continue to build on it with this anniversary project, rather than out out something totally separate.

I always knew that I wanted to expand on the world of TWATW, so when the five year anniversary came around it felt like the perfect opportunity to revisit and figure out how I could develop the concepts I had created and refine them with the knowledge I had gained over the last five years. It also just happened to be perfectly lined up with these two large collections of music I had been developing over the last few years, which I didn’t really have proper outlets for. It all fell together almost on it’s own to be honest.

Let’s talk about the difference between part one Rise of the Wise and part two Wrath of the Wicked. The two albums have been described as polar opposites. How so?

I think more than anything, just sonically. If you listened to those two albums back to back, without any knowledge of who the artist was who made either album, I wouldn’t blame the listener for assuming that two entirely different artists made each album. But that’s always been my goal – to consistently be able to keep listeners on their toes, not exactly able to pinpoint who I am as an artist or what my “sound” is.


Was the concept always to do a two-part project with these contrasting vibes or did the tracks just evolve that way to where they needed to be divided up?

I always knew that I wanted to make two albums to follow up TWATW, to be able to dive in deeper to what each “world” within the original album was really about. Like I mentioned above, I also had these two completely contrasting collections of music that I had written over the last few years, so it only made it easier for me to see the vision for each project once all the pieces started falling into place.

Are you in a personal Wise or Wicked era right now or does your vibe shift from day to day?

I think that’s the whole point. I don’t have one mood, one era, etc. If I was stuck in just a “Wise” or “Wicked” era, so to speak, I’d get really sick of it really quickly. That’s what I’ve always allowed myself to make and play whatever felt right in the moment, to avoid burning myself out on any one specific sound or style.

The duality continues with the Wise vs. Wicked tour which allows fans to choose to attend wither the “Wise” or “Wicked” show, or both. How did this idea come about?

The idea went hand in hand with the creation of the two albums. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to be able to curate special, specific shows for each “world” that the respective albums live in, because they really do both live in their own spaces from one another. For the Wise shows, a lot of fans will be pretty familiar with the vibe because it’s not too far off from the Off The Deep End shows I’ve been doing for the last few years, but it will obviously have a stronger focus on the album material, and lean more into the melodic, techy music I’ve loved making and playing for quite some time now.

On the other side, the Wicked shows will also feel somewhat familiar for most Jauz fans as I do play quite a bit of heavier music during my “normal” Jauz sets – the only difference is that the Wicked show will be 100% heavy and aggressive the whole time. Pedal to the metal.

What is the most significant aspect of growth fans can hear from you between your debut album and this project?

I would probably have to say just the decisiveness on each project. They really sound like cohesive albums in their own respect. I really made a focus on making sure every song one each album both filled a purpose and also felt like it lived in that “world” that is created around each album.

How has Bite This! Records evolved over the years? What is the biggest advantage and challenge with releasing music under your own label?

I always wanted to have a space to be able to put out my own music, when I wanted and how I wanted. It’s kind of a reflection of my artist career – I’ve always been the kind of person who wanted to be able to control my destiny, for better or worse. It’s the way I initially dove into making music on a computer in the first place – the only person who can determine how successful I end up is myself. On top of that, we’ve been able to release so many awesome records from up and comers from all over the planet which was a huge goal of mine as well.

We’re up on the five year anniversary of BT as a label as well, and people who follow closely probably have noticed we’ve been pretty quiet as of late… We’ve been working a ton behind the scenes to bring some really incredible things to the label, and you’ll get to learn more about that sooner than later.

There was a TikTok that went viral the last few months where a girl was crying as she asked “What does a DJ even do?” that had industry vets both laughing and rolling their eyes. So in your words, what does a DJ do?

I’m probably the wrong person to ask this question to, haha! Like I said before, I really consider myself more of an “artist” than a DJ. I care a lot more about curating a good vibe, and producing the ultimate “jauz experience” I possibly can, than being a “good DJ.” So to me, what a DJ does is kind of a loaded question. A “real” DJ, someone like Atrak, Craze, DJ EZ, etc. are masters of reading a room, blending songs together that no one else could ever think belong together, and creating exciting new moments out of songs that you’ve heard a thousand times. For myself as a “DJ”, I do my best to put on the best show I possibly can, in whatever manner I can.,