Our newest playlist was curated by Waleed Ma’arouf, is a multi-instrumentalist and graduate of Ball State University and Indiana University. Living in Washington, Indiana, and working for a local high school, Ma’arouf is a Graduate and Career Coach for Ivy Tech. On the side, he also enjoys expanding his band’s tracklist.
The playlist highlights some of his favorite tracks and albums from the last couple of months, including recent local Indianapolis releases. Follow the playlist on Soundcloud and/or Spotify for your listening pleasure!
Tell us about your musical background.
I remember singing along to Casey Kasem’s top 40 while my mom drove my family to church. I can even recall dancing while nobody was watching to golden oldies in our quilt shop. Music has been an evocative and emotional experience for me ever since I can remember. It feels as though it has a direct connection to my heart, and because of this, I immersed myself in it as soon as I could. In middle school, I was in band and played the trombone. I continued this trend until high school, where I finally figured out my incorrect embouchure and subsequent buzz will never be up to snuff with the rest of the band. That is when I got lucky and figured out what an electric bass guitar was. While I was visiting, my friend let me pick his up and try it out in a hot and crowded room. I will never forget that stuffy room, and I will never forget how it felt to create such strong sounding notes with such ease. Since then, I have continued to attempt any instrument I can get ahold of, and have settled on guitar and acoustic bass as my main instruments. My “creative force” could not be constrained to merely playing covers, however, and I took to writing my own music. This music was mine, my lyrics, my stories. It was my way of expressing myself, my way to make art. I have not looked back since, releasing a few albums here and there, all for fun and all for free.
Tell us about the mix you curated. Does it give off a type of mood? What should we be doing while listening in?
The mix I have curated is an eclectic gathering of both new artists in my life as well as ones who have been there from my youth. I am passionate about the idea that music is an art form, and I think that it should be constantly pushing different boundaries. Because of that, a lot of the music I am drawn to is experimental, with unexpected movements or patterns. I feel as though a lot of the songs in this playlist will have times where the listener may stop and say “woah.” I live for those “woah” moments in music, and become exhilarated when I catch one in the wild. That being said, I think this mix gives off a much more light-hearted feeling. As a listener, the only stipulation would be absolutely positively be doing something you enjoy while listening to this playlist.
What groups are killing the game right now?
That’s the exciting bit. Great music is being made constantly. My favorite artists who have released new material recently are Kishi Bashi with Sonderlust, and Stepdad with Masterbeast Theatre. Both were released late 2016. Tokyo Police Club just released Melon Collie and the Infinite Radness (Parts 1 and 2) this January, and Sylvan Esso is gearing up to knock my socks off with a new album sometime in spring or summer. In addition, everything on this playlist was released really recently, and all of these bands are worth looking into.
Tell me about your past and current music projects.
Other than middle and high school band, I have not truly been in a musical group with more than one person. That being said, I love to create music with others, and used to frequently write and record with very talented friends. We would never take it to the street, though, and would only write for the sake of music itself. Beyond that, most of what I have written and performed has been by myself, and I have a wide and eclectic collection of tracks under my name. From high school onward, I went by the name of Voyages and produced four concept albums, all heavily using metaphor and telling elaborate and at times abstract stories. After the short EP, Expansion, I stopped writing for a little while. A year or two passed, and life handed me both ups and downs. I took all of the emotions I had recently experienced, and geared them towards a new, more direct style of writing. In addition, I started to play with looping and new instrumentation. The end result was a new project called Qualifier, and I continue to write under that name today.
What are your interests outside of music?
I am really interested in educational gaming, such as structured roleplaying and storytelling games. Believe it or not, I am even interested in normal games. I spend a lot of my free time trying to immerse myself deep in some fantastical world. When I am not doing that, I work in a small southwestern Indiana high school as a graduate coach, working with students to focus on graduating and trying to better their life in any way I can. Music can actually play a big part in this, because if anything is universal and traverses income, age, and other diversities, it is a somewhat unique combination of rhythm, beats, tones, or notes.