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My primary duty to you, aside from bringing you great new music of my own of course, is to bring you next-level tracks from other artists. This week is no exception.

Usually, when I hear a track I know I’ll like, it will only take one listen. Tracks I really love will take several listens before I’ve truly fallen for them.

This week, I bring you “Nissim” by The Gaslamp Killer, an artist I never knew of up until recently. I’m positive that Nissim is one of the more unique tracks I’ll ever have during my weekly music picks, but I’m positive that if you take it for a spin, you’ll fall in love.

When the song first fell on my ears, a group of friends and I were enjoying some late-night hookah, listening to my curated playlist for these exact nightly sessions. I cannot recall which friend of mine put it on, but I’ll use this Write-up as an opportunity to show my appreciation:

Thanks, friend.

Nissim begins with a clean-cut sitar solo which lasts nearly two-minutes—I can’t get enough of its steadily-building, crazy long intro, but what happens afterwards is perfect: the track breaks into the full beat of grooving drums, sitar, guitar, and piano. Each piece of the song is wildly complimentary to one another, which is reflective of Gaslamp’s true production ingenuity. There are no fancy transitions or pounding 808s; just a pure, Arabic-infused alternative instrumental.

William Bensussen (the real name of The Gaslamp Killer) has an incredible ancestry of Turkish, Lebanese, Mexican and Lithuanian, so it is very clear where he draws his influences from. And I, someone who just discovered a significant sliver of Arabic in my own lineage and no formal knowledge of my own heritage, can certainly say that Nissim is everything I’d hoped for in a modern spin on Middle Eastern music. That’s why it’s my Spotify Pick of the Week.

 

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I first heard AJR’s indie pop track “Weak” last Friday as I was listening to Kiss 108 and gunning it through Boston’s Callahan Tunnel. All I’ll say is I’m lucky Siri can work hands-free because I would have been pretty bummed if I wasn’t able to figure out what this track was.

AJR’s “Weak” is the perfect blend of indie vocals and synthpop arpeggios, backed up by a stellar electronic bridge and even a key transposition of the final chorus, which is rarely used in modern hits these days.

The song is undoubtedly catchy—I think all popheads will agree on this. But I wasn’t totally sold on everything until the third listen. As I listened to “Weak” more and more, I realized how much I connected with the lyrics. To me, AJR’s hit track might be the perfect college anthem. It provides just the right level of comfort to anybody and everybody who’s recently done something so stupidly college. The song just seems to understand us university students as a collective group.

“But I’m weak, and what’s wrong with that?” Absolutely nothing, in my opinion, AJR.

After all, “Weak” does hail from their EP ‘What Everyone’s Thinking.’

People are hearing the lyrics and reflecting on their questionable decisions they may have made themselves, whether recently or years ago. It’s almost like an induced form of method acting —the vocals just happen to connect on a deep level, and the memories fall in place.

But anyway, getting out of the psychological analysis, this song simply works. The vocals are comforting. The melody is catchy. The energy just all-around makes sense in a very relevant, modern way. That’s why AJR’s “Weak” is my Spotify Pick of the Week.

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This is the logo for Playup Music.

In the first half of 2016, I decided to pivot how I was going to brand my music.
Thanks to my friends at Pixability Incorporated, Haelphon has now been used in several commercials and other digital forms of media.

This triggered a new set of thoughts for me. For the longest time, I had spent my music “career” trying to somehow hit fame and fortune. Every artist hopes that one day they wake up surrounded by viral fame. Rarely ever is this the case. I decided that I needed to stop trying to become some overnight sensation and instead focus on providing music to clients privately.

With the help of my friend and colleague Bill, I began reaching out to music licensing services in hopes of getting my tracks into companies’ catalogues. After more than a month, I heard back from a company based in Australia called Playup Music whose clientele included companies like Victoria’s Secret and Armani. We signed a non-exclusive deal and some of my music can be found here through their website’s media player.

My success rate was around 50%. Out of my four different submissions to separate companies, I had heard back successfully from two; the first being Playup and the second being CrucialMusic, which licenses for TV and film. I currently await their contract.

As a producer with a library of almost entirely instrumentals, I feel like this pivot was a great way to go. I look forward to spreading my tunes further.

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