A guy named Brandon Weiss lived down the hall from me freshman year. I knew him as the guy on the diving team who was in my COM 101 class and always had a hum of bass coming from his room. Two years later, this guy who got written up by our RA for blasting his music too loud, is now known by hundreds of thousands of people around the country as a DJ named Kasum.
Weiss has one of those inspiring college kid success stories: A spark of underappreciated talent that was fostered in a cramped dorm room and, after some hard work, finally caught the unstoppable momentum it deserved.
The word “luck” is often thrown around when people talk about their road to success. But Weiss said he’s careful to use the word “luck” in fear of undermining the meticulous planning and long hours that he puts into creating his music and brand.
“Luck is something that happens when hard work and opportunity meet, and that isn’t something that has happened to me yet. Maybe one day,” he humbly said during our interview Monday, as he had two shows lined up at large venues in Boston and Philadelphia during the upcoming weekend.
He chose the moniker Kasum, the Hebrew word for magic, as a symbol for the magic tricks he would practice in his room while growing up to disconnect himself from a slew of family hardships. Today, he said he still uses magic, but in a much different form — through his music, an avenue to simultaneously disconnect his audience from the rest of the world so he can connect with them.
Weiss creates the kind of music that just gets into your body and has the ability to move your head, feet and mood on its own. He played his music in the background during our interview, and there were several points where I noticed him close his eyes and – just for a split second – he would let the sudden drop in the music go right through him. And every time he would snap back to reality, there would always be a subtle sense of pride in his eyes for the sounds he created.
“I like to make things that get into people’s heads and that are hum-able,” he said, acknowledging the funny juxtaposition between the intensity of Dubstep and the simplicity of humming. However, he said this “infectious hum” he strives to create is a lot harder to achieve than just throwing a myriad of sounds together.
While were sitting at his computer, he showed me how each sound, even those as small as a simple ding on a keyboard, go through a meticulous editing process in which it obtains its own personality, purpose and potential. Careful planning goes into each beat, just as everything else that goes into the Kasum brand.
“I’m 40 percent a musician and 60 percent a businessman,” he said.
While a typical song takes him about 70 to 100 hours each, he said just as much time, if not more, goes into planning, networking and building his brand. Only two years into being Kasum, Weiss already has a manager and a lawyer. So, when Weiss says he has to “call his people,” he actually has people to call.
Despite his rising fame and the fact he’s a DJ based out of New York over the summer, he’s still a student based out of his Student Village II dorm room during the school year.
“No matter what, I still plan on getting a degree,” he said. “If an opportunity comes that I absolutely cannot say no to, obviously I’ll take it. Then I’ll just plan on getting my degree later.”
When you see Weiss, the seemingly normal BU student on campus, you would never expect him to be as big of a deal as he is in major cities like New York, Boston and Philadelphia. But, at the same time, you wouldn’t expect Kasum, the well-known DJ in New York, Boston and Philadelphia, to have the most played song on his iTunes be Suite No. 3 in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach either.
But perhaps all of this is the key to Weiss/Kasum’s success – a confident sense of modesty with something always unexpected waiting up his sleeve (or in his iTunes).
On the background of his iPhone, Weiss set a picture his favorite quote: “What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t even happened yet.”
For a 20-year-old DJ that has already has a huge fan base, dozens of upcoming shows and thousands of dollars in his pocket, that quote must trigger some pretty exciting thoughts.
“I’m still only 1/16th of what I want to be one day,” he said.