DJ and producer Bais Haus may be early in his performing career, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been in front of big crowds.
Tim Hauser, his father and a founding member of the vocal jazz group Manhattan Transfer, used to hand down some time in the spotlight when the group was on the road.
“I was always out on stage, for as long as I can remember,” Haus said. “He would always bring me out — ‘Here’s my kid!’ — and everyone would cheer.”
In one respect, Haus has gone into the family business. As one-half of dance music duo Ephwurd (alongside Datsik), he’s following in the footsteps of his father, and had front-row seats to the stardom of possibly the most successful jazz vocal group of all time.
But the bass drops and wild energy of Ephwurd sounds light years away from the band that won Grammys for Best Jazz Fusion Performance, among other categories, and there are few covers of songs like “Birdland” in a Bais Haus set list.
amNewYork caught up with Haus to talk about his path to the DJ booth, starting with his father, before Ephwurd’s performance at Webster Hall.
Dads in general may sing around the house to annoy their kids. What’s it like to have a dad around the house who’s singing in perfect pitch?
Oh god. It wasn’t always perfect. [Laughs] He would always play the most obscure records and sing along — he knew all the words. It would be stuff from the 1930s. Listening to him listening to records that no one knew about kind of inspired me to do the same thing.
How is the music of Ephwurd different than your personal sound?
I never tried to brand myself as a DJ. I always kept everything I did behind the scenes. And the music I did was always cinematic; I studied music theory and am obsessed with classical music. Every time I try to do something, it ends up with horns and strings and epic low synths. But when I met [Datsik], he said, “You’ve got to see things more ... swaggy.” In terms of musicality, we met in the middle.
You’ve done everything from run the merchandise stand at Steve Aoki shows to tour manager before Ephwurd. Was there a moment where it clicked that you were now a full-time DJ?
I think there are a few moments. Up until recently, even when Datsik and I started Ephwurd, I was still tour managing us, and Datsik as well. It happened really gradually to where being a DJ and producer were my only jobs — that’s still probably only four months ago. I’d say there were four pinnacle moments. At first, I’m the merch guy, but [Aoki] won’t listen to any of the music I make. Then, I’m the merch guy, but there’s an opening [performance] slot, so I’m going to play it, and he came out onstage one day and was like, “This is pretty cool.” And then we went on a bus tour, and that’s when me and Datsik became really good friends. And one night we were really drunk on the tour bus, everyone else was asleep, and I was like, “Hey, I wrote up some stuff.” And he wanted me to send it to him. And three months later, he was like “I finished the song! It’s going on my album, and I opened for Calvin Harris playing this.”
Did being on stage as a kid at your dad’s shows do anything to get you ready for today?
I remember walking out for our debut Ephwurd show at Escape [a major dance music festival in Southern California] and there were 30,000 kids. And I asked Datsik, who’s been touring for years, how he felt, and he said, “Yeah, I’m pretty nervous.” And I was like, “Good, because I’m [expletive] my pants right now.”