The Head to Head series explores the minds of two genre greats in one in-depth and personal interview together.
Although incredibly successful, 3LAU and Audien, rising stars in their own rights, share experiences with the growing pains of their stardom, finding their identity as artists and overcoming naysayers in the process. But as self-proclaimed best friends in this industry, they have each other’s backs in life—and now, onstage.
3LAU and Audien’s passion for their projects is absolutely contagious. From their forthcoming collaboration to new solo releases, the two, individually and as a duo, are working on music unlike anything fans have ever heard before.
As a special audio treat, 3LAU and Audien are debuting their b2b show at Nocturnal Wonderland 2016. After years of touring and hundreds of shows under their belts, this upcoming performance, they say, is the pinnacle so far.
Ahead of their performance at this year’s Nocturnal Wonderland, we caught up with 3LAU and Audien for a special Head to Head chat.
How did the b2b show come to be?
3LAU: Nate [Audien] and I have been friends for a long time, and we love each other’s work and play each other’s music. We also have a song coming out that we worked on together, so we thought it would be cool do something different. Our song is taking a while to come out, but we will be playing it live during our set.
If this goes well, do you see the possibility of more b2b shows?
3LAU: I don’t think this is something that’ll be frequent. This show is going to be a special experience, and any future b2b shows would be limited. If we blow it out of the water, we might plan a mini-tour.
Audien: There is the idea of a mini-tour, but even those shows would be more intimate, and we’d make sure they are special and unique. We don’t want to do a b2b show just to do a b2b show.
There seems to be surge in b2b sets during the last year. Why do you think that is?
3LAU: There is a button-pushing theory; I don’t agree with it. Yes, we do press buttons, but the art form is what our selection is. People who go to a rave aren’t paying to see a live band; they are paying for the experience, and Insomniac has been at the forefront of providing that experience. It’s the DJ’s job to augment that experience, and a b2b set is something fresh for people to experience and really see how we can perform.
Do you have plans for the set?
Audien: Our plan is to not plan it too much. Justin [3LAU] and I play anything from pop to dubstep; we like the same stuff, so we are just going to feel it out. I’m into crossover music—not music that’s mainstream, but making and playing music that becomes widely accepted.
3LAU: We will both be playing a lot of our future music; we are really focusing on bridging genres, not sticking to our traditional style.
Fans should expect a new sound, then.
Audien: As an artist, you have to evolve. If I play the same stuff over and over, I get bored, too; it’s not fun for me. We’ve been put in a box of progressive house for the last year or two, and we want to make shit that inspires us. Like, our new song is so different; that’s what’s exciting for both of us. If we want to last as producers and not just be a fad, we have to adapt. We can’t keep doing the same thing over and over.
Tell me about your new song.
3LAU: No one understood the track. Nate played it for me, and I got involved, and people still didn’t believe in it. So, we made it into something people understood, but it’s not like anything anyone has heard before.
You’ll be playing the song at Nocturnal Wonderland, but the release is on hold.
Audien: There is business involved in music. We have the song done; we are just waiting for the business side of it to be sorted out.
3LAU, you have an EP coming out in fall.
3LAU: I don’t know if it’ll be this fall, but that’s what I’m hoping for. Ninety-five percent of the songs are done, but there are always political things that get in the way of art. The more I’m in this business, the more I realize that. We, as artists, just want the music to exist and come out for the fans, but unfortunately, there are people who have to make money on music. It’s a big pain in the ass.
Seems like a lot of hassle.
Audien: Want to know why else it’s a hassle? You take all this time, you complete a song, and you think it’s amazing. You create more songs, and you think all these songs are amazing, too. Then only one song becomes a single, and the rest disappear. I think the best thing to do, for me personally, is do a bunch of songs, put them out individually, and let them have their own moment.
3LAU: It is a hassle, and I want the fans to know we are doing everything we can to get music to them, but there is red tape, and it has to do with technology changing music. There are these things called record labels, and they are all frightened. They get scared when they lose a little bit of money, so they put up red tape. The business stops music and makes it more difficult to get music to our fans. Nate and I are experiencing this so much right now. Look what happened to SoundCloud—that was the platform for producers to get music out to fans. SoundCloud is how I made my career. Now when someone has a bootleg, it’s a violation.
So why’d you decide to do the EP?
3LAU: I wanted to do an EP, but it is a little scary. I didn’t think I could do it until I had songs piled up that were not released. To me, an EP is a group of songs that tell a story, not just songs thrown together. I think Porter Robinson did an incredible job telling a story, and Madeon, too.
Audien, you have a new song coming out. Are you having the same troubles?
3LAU: No, he’s lucky!
Audien: The song is “Crazy Love.” I haven’t had a release in a while, so I’m very excited, and I am lucky. I’m lucky because I work with Astralwerks, which is unique, because they have deep roots in dance.
Do you guys hang out and do stuff outside of music?
Audien: We’ll usually hang out when we are in Vegas; Justin has an awesome place there. When we hang out, we’ll always manage to turn everything and every subject into art.
3LAU: That’s very true. It’s funny, actually—we end up talking about interior design. Nate is more of an expert than I am, so he’ll help me pick out stuff, like my floors.
Catch 3LAU b2b Audien at Nocturnal Wonderland Friday, September 2. For more information, visit the official website.
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