Music for the Soul

I’ve always been interested in music. My dad was a DJ when he was younger and still has fun spinning the turntables every now and then. I grew up with all different genres of music playing throughout my house from Hip-Hop to Pop and even slow jam oldies. Let’s be honest, the 90s produced solid music. Every house had a boom box or a stereo blasting N’Sync, Britney Spears, or Backstreet Boys. It was before Napster, before Limewire, and before the music industry became more a celebrity spectacle followed for its rumors and gossip than an actual creation of quality music. I digress. The point is, I like music and it has been a pretty big part of my life.

I played piano for about six years. I rarely practiced, but my teacher said I had an ear for music so the playing came naturally. I never really enjoyed the classical training though so I gave up after I started to realize this wasn’t going to make me a rock star. In high school I worked in clubs in Philadelphia: promoting, managing, and setting up equipment and lighting. I was introduced to some important people in the industry including radio personalities, radio talk show hosts, radio DJ’s and the owners of various radio stations and clubs. It was an amazing experience. Granted, I could have been joining extracurriculars at my high school or running for class president, you know, things that would look better on my resumé. But to be honest, I wouldn’t change a thing. While Medical schools and future employees might not be interested in the fact that I can arrange a DJ booth including a sound system and club lighting in a matter of minutes, sometimes you have to just do something for you.

At Yale I’ve become really involved in cultural life and being pre-med. The only time I hear music is at A cappella concerts, a party on the weekend or through the headphones of my iPod. Sometimes even both of the latter two at a “floating dance party”, a pretty fun dance party where everyone downloads the same playlist to their iPod and simultaneously presses play to their own personal jam session in their headphones. It must be hilarious for anyone passing by to see upwards of one hundred students dancing without music. At a normal dance party though, I’ll most likely be found around the DJ booth, watching the DJ work. It’s fascinating. To maintain a happy crowd involves so much multitasking, personal rhythm, and a general feel for the tone of the party. Don’t get me wrong, I love dancing! I was never one of the kids that stands in the corner of the room being awkward, I just really enjoy anticipating the next move of the DJ: “Will he speed up the tempo?,” “He’s got to mix it in now!,” “Whoa! I didn’t expect that one!”.

Yale has an enormous amount of musical talent. This year, I decided that it needed to be heard. A senior, who is also a recruitment coordinator in the admissions office, had an idea to make an original record label to showcase all of Yale’s talent and I immediately got on board. The label, which is supported by the Dean of the Arts, is called 17O1 Records. It has been great getting to know all of the talented musicians on campus through general meetings and networking events. Our goal for the year is to produce a compilation album showing the variety of this musical talent at Yale. We want to release the album around the same time as Spring Fling, when the whole campus is buzzing over acts like MGMT, Mike Posner, Girl Talk, Ying Yang Twins, etc., just to name a few. I’ve really enjoyed working on the project so far. As the vice president I’ve designed the logo, developed a marketing plan, and contacted faculty to ensure the group has access to the best resources it can. We have access to state of the art recording booths, faculty advisors renowned in intellectual property law and digital production, and much more. A few weeks ago the president of the organization and I were given a tutorial in a recording studio and were knowledgeable enough to record vocals by the end of a one hour session.

The opportunities at Yale are endless. I mean, look at me. A pre-med, barely trained in piano, but just loves music and I’ve helped to create a record label that’s in the process of producing its first album. I’m really excited to see where the underclassmen and future Yalies take 17O1 Records in the years to come.