What’s in your bag? is a recurring feature where we ask people to tell us a bit more about their everyday gadgets by opening their bags and hearts to us. This week, we’re featuring music producer and record label owner 3lau.
Justin Blau, otherwise known as 3lau, is sitting with The Verge on the floor of a green room trailer at a festival. We’re directly behind the main stage, and the trailer’s wood-paneled walls are vibrating from the act currently playing. Blau himself is about to step on stage, but is letting us rummage through his briefcase beforehand, which contains all the things he needs to perform live.
Known for his melodic-leaning dance songs, along with other endeavors — like blockchain-powered festival OMF and non-profit record label Blume — Blau’s reach extends far beyond music itself. And he’s always forward-thinking. In the past year he’s collaborated with the likes of HYO from Girls’ Generation, worked on a track with Ninja for the gamer’s NINJAWERKS Vol. 1 compilation, and put out several lush and pop-forward singles on his own imprint, like “Touch” and “Would You Understand.” He has two albums planned for early 2020. On top of that, as evidenced by where we’re talking with Blau, he maintains a constant touring schedule.
It’s a lot for one person to juggle, but as we see in his bag, Blau’s able to do it all through being a very meticulous person. “Wow,” he says in admiration after The Verge has arranged his array of cables on the trailer’s carpet. “It looks really pretty. You guys did a great job, and I’m very detail-oriented.”
You have a briefcase?
There’s a lot of interesting things in here! You’re skeptical!
No! It’s just unexpected.
I just come to the show like this. Business. It is a Tumi. I do love Tumi. My luggage is also Tumi. I use this because I already have a backpack. If you see my full luggage setup, the briefcase makes more sense. It fits perfectly on one side of my luggage. I’m super efficient about how I pack.
And here I have my DJ controller.
Whoa! That’s the perfect size for your bag, and I love the color.
Thank you. It’s custom iridescent red.
Does it glow under black light?
It does. Part of the Ultraviolet idea. It’s made by a company called Livid. They’ve actually discontinued it, which is a nightmare for me because I only have two. If they break I’m literally screwed. I’ll have to reprogram one or ideally have somebody else design one. It’s basically a MIDI controller for Ableton. I’ve always DJed with Ableton. Everyone is like, well why don’t you DJ with CDJs? And the reason why is because when was in college I couldn’t afford CDJs. I learned on Ableton. A CDJ setup is like, four grand, and there were no clubs for me to go check it out. And this little thing is $500.
It was a way more affordable alternative. I stole Ableton at the time, totally did not buy it. But now I own Ableton and am a real licensor.
I had the APC 40 back in the day and this [Livid controller] was the replacement. It’s more customizable. There’s a lot more I can do with it. I can create my own custom MIDI scripts. It’s really cool.
Livid knew that I was using it from photos and they reached out to me and said they wanted to make me a custom one. My first one was black and they powder coated it this red. It’s one of a kind. And it’s discontinued. So this is my pride.
Let’s see what else you’ve got in here.
My backpack has my production laptop, and adapters, my headphones, all that stuff. This bag has the stuff I need live.
This is a good one. An extra battery.
Does that charge your laptop too?
Yes. It’s a newer Mophie. I love them. This battery can charge the laptop and the phone. I usually travel with three of them because on an international flight if there isn’t an outlet when my laptop dies, I know I have batteries I can use. Ideally that will eventually change. But international flights don’t always have adapters, and that’s why I travel with three.
Dongles. More dongles. And more cables. I keep extras because it’s so easy to lose them.
And then the trusty old earplugs. And a splitter. A splitter is especially good at festivals if I’m hanging out with another artist and we’re showing each other new music. It can be loud, and there can be a lot of people in the green room.
What do you use this laptop for?
So this is just the DJ laptop. Way less ports, which is why I have those extra dongles. Disaster. This is the 13 inch, and then I have a 15 inch as well.
What phone is this?
The iPhone X. Worst phone ever.
Well, actually the software update fixed a lot of problems. The Wi-Fi used to fucking close for no reason.
Is there a particular reason why you have an iPhone?
The ease of connecting everything. Because I’m all Mac it makes life easy. I communicate with everybody on iMessage.
And these earplugs and earbuds?
I have Westone custom earplugs because this is the first company that somebody told me about. At the time I ordered, it was like, $50 per extra mold. I got three molds and I’ve only lost one over the past eight years or so. I’m proud of that. I did lose one of the db filters, but you can order those on Amazon.
If you’re at festivals enough, it’s something to consider. Honestly, I’ll also use the dead plugs on airplanes sometimes, and it just cuts everything, even babies’ cries. It’s the best kind of earplug.
And then I have portable little Beats. I don’t particularly love them, but they’re great for when I’m in the green room and on the laptop. It’s nice to bring this little bag instead of the big headphones. I normally have the Bose QCs when I’m on airplanes.
What about these USBs?
These are fan songs that I probably haven’t listened to yet.
People gave you those?
Right. A lot fans give them to me and I say, listen, here’s my personal email, I promise I’ll check it but I’m sure I’m going to lose the USB. Those are two of the maybe 50 that I’ve kept. I have no idea what’s on them. Once a month I try to go through my demo folder and listen to as much as I can. And in some cases I wind up working with some of these artists.
Where did you get your wallet?
It’s my Margiela wallet. I ordered it online from a website called SSense where I order a lot of my clothes from.
Matt Reeves: It’s sale season!
You know! I see the Y3 shoes over there. I see it.
Dani Deahl: Matt is one of Rick Owens’ primary photographers.
Wait, what? Hold up. No way! Oh my god. I normally have a Rick zip-up sweatshirt vest. But it’s so hot so I’m not wearing it now. I got it when I was in the Rick Owens store in Tokyo. He’s got a sculpture of himself in there that’s crazy.
Why do you have a Sharpie?
There’s always a fan that wants me to sign something. Signing someone’s phone is the most common request believe it or not. They want me to sign their phone cases. Some people let me sign straight on their phone. Hats are the second most common.
I think I know where the $2 bills are from.
They are from Steve… Two Dollar Hollar. Steve Reisman is a very successful entertainment lawyer. He gives all his favorite artists $2 bills whenever he sees them. He’s just loaded up with them all the time. He’s really close with Drake and a lot of big artists, and I’m honored that I’m a friend of his. I use the $2 bills for valet tips. I keep every $2 bill I’ve gotten from him in my car.
[Places card down] We’ll put that in there just for fun.
What is it?
It’s for a blockchain-powered festival I threw last year called OMF.
And last, the Listerine strips.
Listerine strips are always on my rider. It’s more efficient than gum. I don’t want to carry a pack of gum in my pocket, but I want that because it’s small. I wear tight jeans. It’s as simple as that. And if I forget and they get washed, it just dissolves and smells really good. That happens all the time.
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