Saturday Night Session 042: 3LAU discusses the impact of quarantine on his creativity and reveals a new EP is on the way
Justin Blau was 21 years old when he was faced with a decision that few before him have had to make. Would he finish college and go on to pursue a career on Wall Street, where success and financial stability were imminent? Or would he choose uncertainty and risk it all by dropping out of college to pursue music full time? He chose the latter, and he hasn’t looked back since.
Blau, as DJ and producer 3LAU, has now made a name for himself as a renowned DJ and music producer, specializing in emotive progressive releases with a side of heavy-hitting bass music. He has launched the first ever not-for-profit dance music label; he has toured the world; and now he is pioneering the intersection of dance music, blockchain, and art.
Although Blau chose to pursue a career in music over finance eight years ago, he has become increasingly active over the years in the world of finance, cryptocurrency, and blockchain. His social platforms are full of his commentary and insights on the aforementioned topics, and now Blau is officially merging his two areas of interest in a new project, SSX3LAU.
SSX3LAU is a collaborative project between the producer and artist Slime Sunday, and the project is far from the first time the duo have come together. Slime Sunday has created the cover art for many of Blau’s releases, but their newest venture takes the relationship between audio and visual art to the next level. In a new line of NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), Slime Sunday creates animated artwork soundtracked by Blau’s unreleased music. NFTs are digital and blockchain-based collectibles that can be bought, sold, and traded on marketplaces using blockchain technology, and in this case, are rare pieces of digital art that cannot be replicated.
SSX3LAU has seen great success after multiple bidding wars resulting in certain pieces selling out in seconds to the tune of $20,000 each. Blau explains that the project was born after he and the artist were catching up and talking about how much the music industry has slowed down amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. They wanted to find a way to keep music alive while also experimenting with the new digital art wave that is happening. Blau speaks more about the potential of SSX3LAU and how it could apply to other artists. He shares, “Digital collectibles give artists a new means of monetization at a time when most touring is at a complete halt. I’m excited to see how artists explore this new space and find new ways to implement their creative vision!”
Given the collection is digital art juxtaposed with the producer’s unreleased music, the project begged the question of what music output fans can expect from Blau moving forward. He is forthcoming about the fact that the lack of touring has aided his creative process. As such, he has a lot in the pipeline including music that is a brand new style. He notes, “I’ve been working on a ton of new stuff, there’s an all club-track EP and a brand new style that I’ve been exploring (similar to the Illenium remix I released earlier this year) that focused on adding Rock elements to dance music.”
Another perk of not touring has been an increased amount of studio time. Blau has crafted a one-hour Saturday Night Session, giving fans high energy material to get their Saturday started. When asked what his ideal Saturday night consists of, Blau shares, “These days, Saturday nights have been studio nights! Spending a lot more time in the studio has definitely been a positive aspect of total quarantine.”
What inspired you to come together with Slime Sunday to create NFTs and explore the intersection between digital/blockchain, art, and music?
Mike (Slime Sunday) and I were on the phone 3-4 months ago talking about how slow the music world was moving in this crazy mid-COVID environment. We were both looking for new inspiration, and I suggested experimenting in this new digital art wave that was happening. He was super excited to get involved, and from there on out we started spending hours each week working on our pieces, finding new inspiration in a new art form!
What does the success of your first two collections mean for you?
It’s been super incredible to see how collectors have been valuing our creative efforts. I think I can speak for both Mike & I that we’re looking to continue to push boundaries and evolve our work to new heights over the next few months!
What could it mean for the industry as a whole?
Digital collectibles give artists a new means of monetization at a time when most touring is at a complete halt. I’m excited to see how artists explore this new space and find new ways to implement their creative vision!
When live shows return, can we expect to see the NFTs you have recently sold as part of your live show experience?
Most likely yes! How cool would it be for a fan to own one of the live clips they saw at a show. We’re even exploring the possibility of exclusive collectible purchases for those fans who do come to shows. Basically giving them the ability to purchase something they got to see at the show, to enhance their memory of the experience for years to come!
Speaking of new music, can you tell us more? What is on the horizon?
I’ve been working on a ton of new stuff, there’s an all club-track EP and a brand new style that I’ve been exploring (similar to the Illenium remix I released earlier this year) that focused on adding Rock elements to dance music.
2020 has been a difficult and change-filled year. After being forced to slow down and stop touring, is there anything you feel will be a permanent change for you and the way you live even after life returns to normal?
Yes definitely. To be honest I think I’ll probably tour a bit less on the other side of this mayhem. I’ve found a lot more creative inspiration in having a system and sticking to a normal sleep schedule!
Saturdays look a lot different for all of us these days. What was your ideal Saturday Night pre lockdown compared to now? (Unless your ideal saturday night is consistent in both situations)
These days, saturday nights have been studio nights! Spending a lot more time in the studio has definitely been a positive aspect of total quarantine.