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UC San Diego's Department of Music

May 27, 2008
INTERVIEW: UCSD ALUM ARASH HAILE CUTS NEW RAP HIT



  While he was a music undergrad at UCSD, Arash Haile recorded the song "Rise," which recently hit #1 on college radio charts.

Q: What work did you do on "Rise" or on your CD while you were at UCSD?

A: I produced, wrote, and rapped on the whole song. It comes off my debut album "Transcripted Thoughts" which I created during my senior year at UCSD.

Q: Why do you think "Rise" has become so popular?

A: A lot of people really connect with the positive message. It's for people who struggle and it is an encouragement to persevere throughout it all. But I also think that it's a sign of the times...I think the masses have been/are getting tired of listening to commercial hip hop that talks about drugs, surviving the streets, etc.  People are ready for something different.

Q: What at UCSD helped you the most in finishing the project?

A: Graduating! This album was my senior project for my ICAM (Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts Major) degree.  Deadlines are crucial. But having Peter Otto as an advisor definitely helped.  Also, my teachers and friends in the music department contributed to the project - Kamau Kenyatta, Gustavo Aguilar, Alan Lechusza, Tom Ferguson, Mike Stockalper, James Naccari, Serena Chang, Nicole Van Ness, and Ryan Teison - who was part of the La Jolla Symphony. 

Q: Were you the only dude working on hip-hop here?

A: Absolutely not. There were other emcees, dj's, and producers holding it down for the hip hop community at UCSD. I was a part of the L.I.F.E. Hip Hop club since I started at UCSD. There was a strong community at the time. 

Q: Are you also into 'new music' of the kind that is prevalent at UCSD  - John Cage, Xenakis, Lachenmann, etc?

A: When I was there. I'm actually glad that I got exposed to 'new music' because it helped me to expand my creativity.  It is not something I've been listening to a lot lately, but I definitely try to incorporate unique sounds and experiment with new things in my own music. 

Q: The video for "Rise" is very cool - -who produced it?

A: My boy Byron Chan of BCP Productions.  He's actually a UCSD graduate. He's making a lot of noise with his skills and producing and directing videos for a lot of other artists. He did all the work, co-producing, directing, and editing the video.

Q: I recognize a lot of San Diego in it. Was it all shot here?

A: Everything. We shot at the Writerz Blok off Euclid and Market, in the various streets of downtown, at Horton Plaza, on the bus - guerrilla style!!! It was a great experience.

Q: Where's your music getting exposure?

A: Time Warner's Music Choice is playing "Rise" and "Dance With The Deejay" on their Underground and Rap channels. The video is definitely on YouTube!

Q: What music did you grow up with?

A: I listened to a lot of jazz and world music. I started listening to hip hop during junior high: Mos Def, Common, Kweli, De La, Tribe. I've heard that it takes your whole life to create your first album. That's why this album is heavy in jazz. That constituted a lot of what I was listening to growing up.

Q: When and how did you start making music?

A: Man...I've been performing since I was in second grade.  I started emceeing as a freshman in high school and DJ'ing my junior year of high school.  It wasn't until college that I got serious about production and it wasn't until the album that I had to approach the creative process on a whole different level.  I started getting into making music after hearing other artists I liked.  They inspired me to say "I want to do that!".  And I did.

Q: Who are your musical (or creative) heroes?

A: Aw man...it's so vast.  From Miles Davis to J-Dilla, Kanye West to the Avila Brothers, Quincy Jones to Pete Rock, Justice to J*Davey...so much to name.  People who are progressing within music and trying new things.

Q: With a #1 college hit - - is the phone ringing?

A: Slowly but surely!  No calls from labels/agents because the industry has changed dramatically. But people are noticing, and there are definitely other artists who want to collaborate after listening to the music. 

Q: What's next in your career? New CD?

A: Of course, but for now it's getting the word out about this album. "Since Rise" has broken nationally, I'm planning on re-releasing the album end of summer/early fall with new artwork.

Q: Any plans for more school? A graduate degree?

A: Done and not coming back!  Unless I'm teaching...

Q: What are your long range plans or dreams?

A: To continue creatively what I'm doing, making quality music for the people and performing while making an amazing living off of it!  Takes time though...

Q: Any performances planned for San Diego?

A: I'm sure I'll be down there soon. If you want to see what's coming up, check out myspace.com/shammydee or shammydee.com.  I always keep it updated.
  

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