Spring of sophomore year, I was tasked with slicing small holes in Michael Sampson’s shirt mere minutes before leaving a Busby suite. When asked why the holes were a necessary last-minute adjustment, Sampson simply shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “Why not cut holes in my shirt?” He brings this same focus on experimentation to the DJ booth under the stage name CSMS (to avoid a Deadmau5 situation, it is pronounced Cosmos).
The seventh-semester communications major’s new album, “Gold Dust & Cyanide,” is set to come out this Friday, Sept. 28. The title points to the yin and yang nature of the DJ’s musical interests. I asked what music he listened to growing up and who his main influences on the album were, and the full list would exceed my word count. With the album, CSMS aims to tap into a “large variation of tones. I want to challenge the audience to understand where my head was at when recording the album.”
Experimentation and originality has been important to CSMS since the beginning. His first foray into music creation came while making mashups of songs in the audio section of Final Cut Pro, which is a video editing application.
“It was a painstaking process because it is not made for making audio,” CSMS said. “After a while, I realized I was more interested in sound editing than film, so I moved onto Logic Pro and haven’t looked back.”
This outside-of-the-box entrance into music creation led to an extremely distinct sound. The single for the upcoming album, “Marvelous,” is a rap song with production touches that catch the ear completely off guard. There are about three different screw sounds in the song that make it truly memorable. The use of abstract sounds and song structures goes back to an artist CSMS regularly referenced in our conversation: Jackson Pollock. The abstract expressionist represented, “a disruption of the form. He is very tastefully abstract. Pollock showed me that I could express myself in any way possible, there’s no boundaries.” This is not surprising when looking at the album art, which CSMS designed himself.
Sampson began performing live as a student at Daniel Hand High School in Madison, CT. This quickly escalated to opening for The Chainsmokers as a freshman and various other performances in the intervening years.
“I wanted to compliment my stage performance with my own music,” CSMS said. “It’s like my resume. I need to have arrows in the quiver.”
When in album mode, CSMS has stuck to local venues, performing mostly at house parties and Grille 86.
“Gold Dust & Cyanide” comes out this Friday, Sept. 28, on the platforms listed below. The QR code on the album cover will take you directly to CSMSMusic.com. Also, check UConn Buy-or-Sell for details.
Availability: iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Shazam, TouchTunes (at bars), YouTube Music, Amazon Music, Pandora, Google Play, Tidal, Juke
Teddy Craven is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.