He isn’t Girl Talk or Danger Mouse. He isn’t Robyn, Phoenix or Big Boi. His “chief influences” — Deadmau5, Calvin Harris, Avicii — have been known outside their bedrooms for five years, max. His voice isn’t unnaturally high or pitch-shifted into breathless robo-pop (as far as we can tell, he doesn’t have a voice). So what do we know about this exceptionally faceless representative of a faceless genre?
Well, he titled one of his recent mashups “Yacht Week in America.” So he definitely belongs at Yale. And his mashups are free of surprises: lots of Top 40, basic dance rhythms crafted on America’s most popular synthesizer setting, feminine vocals yanked from pop trance, a little dubstep to break up the electro-sunshine. If his Soundcloud singles are any indication, don’t expect any “Hey! I know this obscure sample and my friends don’t!” moments during his set. Hipsters in need of consolation will have Passion Pit to pacify them. T. Pain, king of Spring Fling, will be in charge of bringing personality to the party. The chief concern for 3LAU: Will he make us dance?
Yes. Yalies would, of course, dance to “Call Me Maybe” followed by “Niggas in Paris,” then followed by “Call Me Maybe” again and so on, but 3LAU won’t interfere with our natural urge to move; his singles are sheer pop pleasure with a more insistent beat. We’ll put our hands up. We’ll shake our hips. We’ll jump and shout. Some of us might embarrass ourselves trying to jerk (I’ve never had excellent foot-ground coordination). Almost certainly, there will be a few transcendent moments in which the major chords and splash cymbals align just right and our hearts leap into our throats and we scream wildly as did our tribal ancestors to the drums of our sacred ceremonies…
As I was saying, 3LAU ain’t half bad, and if you’re a fan of computer music, you’ll walk away happy (unlike the girl I met at the Commons DJ showdown, who turned to me after Switch’s set, baffled: “Some of that wasn’t even music!”). And his Soundcloud could be deceptive; many DJs save their most creative sampling for live sets and design their albums in four-minute downloadable bursts for mass-market appeal. Besides, anyone who remixes alongside such fine veterans as Kap Slap, Sex Ray Vision and Darth and Vader must be worth the money. (Yes, I’m pretty sure he made up all of those artists. Creative spirit!)