BandCampWes: Sulsky ’13 Drops Charitable Compilation, “Songs for Something”

“An album of songs about meaningful things”—almost entirely Wes-specific.

 Over the summer, homegrown musical personality Zack Sulsky ’13 put out a call for submissions. In particular, he requested “original songs about meaningful things.” Each songwriter, he explained, would choose an appropriate charity for their song to fund. In so doing, the project will “contribute not only money, but also serious thought and discourse to the issues that we, the songwriters, care about.

True to promise, Sulsky’s project, “Songs for Something,” has come to fruition. As of last week, the compilation is available on BandCamp for free streaming and $12 purchase. (Remember: those dollars are going to charity.) More than half of its 13 tracks are by Wesleyan artists, and if you’re sick to death of all the post-chillwave hogwash nonsense about unmeaningful things, consider this compilation a pleasantly eclectic ramble through the folksier, rootsier corner of Wesleyan’s student music scene. Particular highlights include “Mercury,” a majestic slow-burner from the recent Honey and the Sting release; “The Holder,” an impossibly soulful minimalist gem from the impossibly prolific Mel Hsu ’13; and “After the Heatwave,” a bittersweet solo cut by Bones Complex‘s Andrew Pfeiffer ’13. The album also contains original music by Julia Mark ’13, The Blooming Youth, Alma Sanchez-Eppler ’14, Sulsky himself, and the “Billionaire” remix we previously posted about. As Sulsky explains,

Songs for Something is an album of songs about meaningful things. Each of the thirteen original tracks was chosen because it is related to an issue that the songwriter believes to be worthy of attention. For each song, a charitable organization has been chosen that relates to the song’s message. It is our hope that by spreading our music we can contribute not only money to these deserving organizations, but also some measure of awareness and critical thought about the issues that are important to us.

Scroll on for a few BandCamp embeds and a brief email interview with Sulsky.

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What inspired you to make Songs For Something?

 The idea for Songs for Something came over the summer, when I finished writing “Reason for Concern,” my contribution to the album.  Although I am by no means an activist, I realized that writing a song about an issue outside myself gave me a new perspective and emotional connection to the issue.  The hope with Songs for Something was that I could help replicate that experience for other musicians and listeners alike.

How did you go about soliciting contributions?

I drew on all the musical connections I’ve formed over the years in order to assemble this great cast of musicians.  Included on the album are songs from two influential teachers I’ve had, Noah Baerman (director of the Wesleyan Jazz Ensemble) and Keith Oxman; two talented musicians I met during my semester at Berklee last spring (Sabrina Rabello and Nick Kelley); a group I have followed for several years in my hometown of Denver (The Courtesy Bandits); and, of course, several contributions from within the Wesleyan community.  Between Honey and the Sting, Julia Mark, Mel Hsu, The Blooming Youth, Andrew Pfeiffer, Alma Sanchez-Eppler, and Evan Okun and his band, I think this album is a strong statement about the quality and diversity of music at Wesleyan.  In assembling this album, I was immediately impressed by the enthusiasm of the musicians, and their extraordinary willingness to contribute their music to issues larger than themselves.

Which is your favorite contribution?

I can’t choose a favorite track—they are each interesting and beautiful in their own way.  What I like most about the way the album turned out is not only the quality of the songs, but the diversity of styles represented.  With everything from the blues of “Fuzzy” to the acoustic hip-hop of “Billionaire (Remix)” to the jazz of “Caught Between the Lion and the Twins” to the Americana of “Mercury” and “Wild Lands” to the singer-songwriter style of several of the submissions, this album reads like a survey of American popular music.

Who chose the individual charities?

The songwriters themselves chose the charities, based on what they believe their song means and what it ought to contribute to.

Were the songs previously recorded or written specifically for this project?

Some of the songs were recorded for this album, some have been released on commercial albums before, and some are featured on forthcoming albums.

In what way do you hope to inspire future charitable music projects? Do you have any ideas in mind?

I hope this album can serve as an example of the power music in particular and art in general can have to not only inspire but to actually bring about change.  The arts are often seen as separate from the issues of our time, at worst completely divorced from reality or merely escapism, but I think this project shows that that is far from the case.  Depending on the success of this album, I am considering continuing this thread in the future, perhaps with a concert in the spring, or a Songs for Something: Volume II.

Stream Songs for Something on BandCamp and download it for $12.


3 thoughts on “BandCampWes: Sulsky ’13 Drops Charitable Compilation, “Songs for Something”

  1. Pingback: Zack Sulsky ’13: Songs for Something | Waves Magazine

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