CMC Celeb: Moose Halpern & Aleksis Psychas
This week's CMC Celeb comes to you in the form of a dynamic twosome: Moose Halpern and Aleksis Psychas. With their blog Jam and a Half, these two seniors have established themselves as CMC's go-to source for awesome music. If their eclectic taste in music doesn't win you over, then their undeniable hilarity will.
Moose is an Economics and Psychology dual major who is reppin' his hometown of San Diego hard. He is the Manager of McKenna Auditorium (shoutout from Moose to Chair Specialist, Dan Lockett) and the President of the Claremont Connection Club, despite the fact "[they] have yet to hold an event." When he's not finding crunchy beats, he is also a CMS sports enthusiast and is the third baseman for the CMC Regulators baseball team (yep, same team as last week's CMC Celeb). Leks, hailing from Gainesville, Florida, is a busy dude majoring in both International Relations and Economics. He is an RA for the Senior Apartments and is a Student Director for the CMS Intramural Athletics Program. Moose and Leks have shared their passion for music since rooming together during their freshman year at CMC. Not only do they love finding music, but they have tried their hand at making their own too. According to Leks, "Way back in the day Moose bought me a ukulele and I bought him some bongos in hopes of making the funkiest two-man band ever seen." Although the two-man band never exactly came to fruition, they have tapped into their creative juices with Jam and a Half.
1. What are the top 5 most played songs on your iTunes?
1. Brokedown Palace, Grateful Dead 2. Watching the Wheels (Acoustic), John Lennon 3. Incarcerated Scarfaces, Raekwon the Chef 4. Distant Lover, Marvin Gaye 5. Sunshine, Lupe Fiasco
1. Fool for a Lonesome Train, Ben Harper 2. My Song, Labi Siffre 3. Minha Galera, Manu Chao 4. Comme Des Enfants (Le Matos Andy Carmichael Remix), Coeur de Pirate 5. Atliens, Outkast
2. What is your quirkiest quality?
M: I do color commentary for the radio broadcast of all Stag and Athena basketball home games.
L: Sometimes I turn into a thing known as Leksasaurus and kind of rampage around with my really small arms and huge head.
3. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
M: Understanding my lack of self knowledge.
L: Being better than anyone I've ever met at Mario Kart. Kidding. Probably having a college experience that has so far lived up to every expectation.
4. What is something that you learned from your family?
M: You can make a difference in this world and you do it every day in the lives of your family.
L: That the most important things never change.
5. If you could be a character from any book, movie, or TV show, who would you be?
M: Sodapop Curtis from the Outsiders (the book, not goofy-ass Rob Lowe in the movie)
L: I would be Zain Jamal, a mythical Indian god who is currently blessing us with his presence.
6. What is your favorite unknown tidbit about CMC?
M: CMC employs the three-time National Boxing Champion of Syria, Bassam Frangieh.
L: Dean Castro is a beer connoisseur and brews a beer that has been ranked among the best in SoCal.
Where did the idea originate from to make a music blog?
M: Finding jams and sharing music with friends is something that we have been doing for years, but Big Leks certainly gets credit for starting up the site. He is a super hacker.
L: Moose and I both had pretty defined musical tastes when we were first roommates back in freshman year. But we always both liked some joint songs, and those songs were always "Jams and a Half," songs that no matter the genre, artist, or style, it's just good music. Our music styles have shifted, but we still have a core group of music we love. Earlier this year we made the blog to share good music and to learn more about quality music out there.
What were you setting out to do when you created Jam and a Half?
M: The idea we had is that at first it would just be a fun way for me and the Big Man Leks to share the music we love with our friends and family all over the world, and in time it developed to get everyone involved sending us the best music from far and wide.
L: The goal of the blog was to create a site for good music where Moose, myself, friends, and randos would have a place to talk about the music they loved and why they loved it.
Where do you find all of the songs that you post about?
M: The only songs that make it to the site are "Jam and a Halfs", not just jams. There is no criteria or genre that a song has to fall into, it just has to be great. Normally the way I know I should put something up is if it strikes a strong personal chord with me. If a song makes me feel inspired to share it with the world I'll write a post--simple as that. Most times it just happens in the moment.
L: We find our jams from all over the place: random gems from our iPods, music blogs, friends, family, guest bloggers, or just hearing songs while walking through North Quad. There's always good music being played somewhere.
What kind of music do you mostly post about?
L: We've posted on all types of music, ranging from House to Hip Hop to the world's first music video. The artists with the most posts are Outkast and Manu Chao and we hope to mix it up as much as we can. It's all about what music we're feeling at that moment.
What distinguishes you from other music blogs? L: I think the main thing that distinguishes our blog is that elephants are among our biggest readers. Naw, just kidding. I think the biggest difference with our blog is that we have no rating system of 1-10 points, 1-5 stars, etc. The music we post is, to our ears, good music, so no need for ratings.
What do you guys have in store for the future of Jam and a Half? Are you going to continue it after you graduate?
L: We have a lot in store for the next couple months and beyond. We're going to organize a Jam and a Half party in the apartments. We already got a sponsorship with Red Bull for the party, so we're excited about that. I think we'll definitely keep it going next year, and the longterm dream, at least for me, would be to start Jam and a Half Records, a label featuring great music from across the world.
Although Moose and Leks are doing a great job, they do not want to be the only ones posting songs that make them groove. Moose says "[his] true hope for the blog is to get as many people involved as possible. There are so many folk out there who are passionate about music the way [he] and Leks are and [he] would love to hear their favorite songs and insight too." They have already had other contributors including Aleks Lyng, Zach Ainsley, Griffin Halpern, and Adam Johnson, but are hoping that with a growing community of writers, Jam and a Half is sure to keep rolling for years to come. Check out the blog and if there's a song you would like to contribute, send the guys an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and they will "hack the mainframe and put it up." You can also join their Facebook group to be updated about Moose and Leks' most recent musical findings.
CMC Celeb is a weekly feature of the Forum that profiles interesting CMC students, finding out everything from what makes them tick to what’s in their iTunes library. Ever wanted to know more about someone on campus? Suggest a name anonymously here…we might just make them a CMC Celeb.