how to find your summer jam

Fernando Pacheco
June 18, 2019

A catchy melody spills from a nearby sound system and stops you in your tracks. It’s paired with a beat that overtakes you. Before you know it, you’re bobbing along. Congratulations, you found your summer jam.

But it’s not always that easy to find the song that embodies the spirit of summer. Sometimes it takes a bit of sleuthing to find the tune that tags along to all your fun-filled summer events. Time is ticking and those mocktails aren’t going to stir themselves.

Photograph courtesy of Derrick Bulatao

Derrick Bulatao, better known as Kutmaster Spaz, has made discovering new music his business. Over his 30-year career as a DJ, he’s packed dance floors across the state. If there’s one thing he knows for sure, it’s that no two events are ever the same. And that’s a good thing.

“Hawaii is unique because we’re not stuck in one genre,” Bulatao says. “One person can love reggae, rock, country, and hip hop and they equally love all of them. [Hawaii residents] are more open. I think it’s because of all the cultures that live here.”

Need help finding your summer jam? Bulatao has a few tips.

Get social
Social media isn’t just for posting foodie pics. Bulatao believes platforms such as YouTube have replaced radio in giving new songs their hit credibility. See what’s trending and give it a listen.

Swim the stream
Professional DJs like Bulatao subscribe to digital music pools to download new releases. For the rest of us, monthly subscriptions to music streaming services provide access to an extensive listening library along with recommended playlists.

Find an old gem
Ask your parents/grandparents about their favorite songs growing up. What’s old to them could be new to you. Bulatao says it’s not rare that a high school student will request a song that was released before they were born.

Ask the kids
Use music to bond with younger family members. Ask them what’s on their current playlist. “Today’s youth are very tuned in to what’s happening in music,” Bulatao adds. “And if you hear some wacky names, don’t be scared.”

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