3LAU to combine dirty beats, soaring vocals and philanthropy in Northampton

By Gabe Scarbrough

House music mash-up extraordinaire 3LAU will bring his pulsating beats for the ADD generation to the Pearl Street Ballroom on Wednesday night.


The show, presented by the Iron Horse Entertainment Group in association with Project Drop, will find the 21-year-old producer dropping track after track of his mash-ups, bootlegs and remixes.

A college junior at Washington University in St. Louis by day, Justin Blau makes maximalist party tunes that are always cranked up to 11. His tracks are designed to destroy the dance floor, stitching pop together with the latest house hits and throwing other genres around as he pleases.

3LAU’s music falls in the alternate universe where Rihanna and Knife Party intermingle. His “Dance Floor Filth“ series is not only a hot commodity on the blogosphere, but can also claim both Adele and Skrillex as featured artists.

Truly a member of the Internet generation, 3LAU has made a name for himself almost solely on the World Wide Web. Cranking out a steady stream of post-Girl Talk megamix mash-ups, the young producer has gained a cult following online and his fair share of blog hype.
In just a year 3LAU has released 39 tracks on his Soundcloud page, many of which have been praised on such popular blogs as This Song is Sick, Gotta Dance Dirty and Earmilk. This exposure has allowed the young artist to hit the top 10 of mp3 blog aggregator Hype Machine.

Known for his signature style of filling each track to the brim with hooks over a thumping 4/4 club beat, 3LAU’s mixes go by the motto “go big or go home.“ They are everything but subtle.

On “B**** City,” for instance, 3LAU mixes classic guilty pleasure dance music with modern pop, rap and electro house. He opens the track with the repeating hook “sex, drugs, push to start” from Dev’s “In The Dark,” before dropping into the vocals from the somewhat cheesy (but massively fun) DDR anthems “Heaven” by DJ Sammy and “Listen to Your Heart” by DHT. The constant foundation beneath all of these sing-along vocals is the instrumental version of “Never be Mine” by electro house hit-maker R3hab and the famously filthy refrain of “Rack City” by Tyga. 3LAU even throws in the “Yeah! Woo!” break from Lyn Collins’s “Think (About It)” (famously sampled by Rob Base on “It Takes Two”) for extra insanity.

Juggling between being a full-time student as well as an upcoming talent in the growing electronic dance music market in America, 3LAU has found success rather quickly. After only a year of producing house 3LAU can list among his accomplishments being a finalist in Tiesto’s “Work Hard Play Hard” remix competition, a top 10 release on the Beatport progressive house chart and performances at Electric Zoo, Global Dance Fest, Spring Awakening and Camp Bisco.

If YouTube videos of past shows are any indication, 3LAU’s concerts look to be as over the top as his music. The “3LAU Your Mind” tour promotional video on his official page opens with 3LAU assuming the arms outstretched to the heavens “Jesus pose” made famous by Tiesto behind the decks, with a giant LED wall behind him. Bouncing coeds clad in neon rave gear alternate between bobbing and jumping while 3LAU runs around the stage acting as his own hype man. In a world where DJs are treated and seen as rock stars, 3LAU rises to the occasion, shooting both paint and jets of carbon dioxide mist at the audience.

Possibly the most interesting part of this tour is that these party shenanigans are for a good cause. 3LAU has partnered with non-profit organization Pencils of Promise earlier this year to donate the money raised by sales of his “Back to New” remix to build a school in Guatemala. With 3LAU himself matching all proceeds, the effort has amassed $25,000 and accomplished their goal.

Now the DJ and the charity have partnered again for “3LAU’s Impossible Challenge,” a fundraiser that accepts donations online. In addition, 3LAU is donating a dollar from each ticket sold on select dates of his fall tour with the goal of building a second school.

Whether you prefer house or schools, this is the party for you.

Gabe Scarbrough can be reached at [email protected]