Judd Apatow just released a new film. If his name doesn’t ring a bell, Apatow is the mastermind behind modern-classic comedies like Bridesmaids, Pineapple Express, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, HBO’s Girls and the increasingly popular Netflix show Love. His current release, co-produced with Saturday Night Live’s Aidy Bryant, The Big Sick is holding down a 97 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. The romantic comedy tells the tale of a relationship struggling to balance cultural differences with families, friends and themselves. The movie stars Kumail Nanjiani of Silicon Valley who plays himself — an aspiring comedian from Pakistan. The rising actor contributed personal experiences to the project having co-written The Big Sick with his wife, portrayed by Zoe Kazan (The Monster, HBO’s Olive Kitteridge). Also featured in the cast are Holly Hunter (Saving Grace, O’ Brother Where Art Thou) and Ray Romano (’nuff said) who play Kazan’s parents.
Now, what makes this Apatow film so special to Coloradans? Well, local musician and Berklee College of Music graduate-turned-teacher Kyle James Hauser has landed two songs on the soundtrack — “So Long” and “Life, Love and Pain.” This isn’t his first time having original tracks featured — Hauser had songs played on MTV’s Teen Mom and 16 & Pregnant, and has performed across the state at festivals like Rocky Mountain Folk Festival and Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Though the film has made headlines for its critical acclaim and original premise, the soundtrack has caught the attention of music journalists across the United States. Just this week the NPR podcast All Songs Considered featured a Michael Andrews (“Donnie Darko,” “Funny People”) track from “The Big Sick.” We sat down with Hauser to talk about his history in Denver, what it was like to be featured in the film and his current projects with DeVotchKa and Wheelchair Sports Camp.
303: You just moved back to Colorado. How’s the adjustment been?
Kyle James Hauser: Although I’ve had a home in the Eastern U.S. the past several years, my heart never left Colorado. I’ve managed to spend nearly every summer performing here since 2007. I’d say the adjustment from Denver to Fort Collins, in general, has been really nice. After many years in the city, I’ve really been enjoying the fresh air and focus on a slower pace of living. At the same time, Fort Collins has much of the grass roots talent, structure, focus and excitement of many young music cities I’ve spent time in.
303: Do you plan on sticking around?
KJH: I’m here! It’s always a tricky thing in the life of a musician to claim to be “sticking around” anywhere forever. But one of the things I love most about this life is that while I might leave a place, I know I’ll always come back to those places there is compelling music and community. I can say I have no plans to leave in the near future.
303: How did your music end up in a Judd Apatow film?
KJH: As many stories like this go, I know a guy who knows a guy. In all seriousness, this really was a case of opportunity meeting preparation. My music got in front of some of the folks in charge and they dug it.
303: Have you seen “The Big Sick?”
KJH: Not yet! My friends on the coast, where it’s been playing for weeks, tell me it’s pretty darn good. I’m a huge fan of Kumail Nanjiani so expect it to be consistent with his style of comedy. His timing is the best.
303: Tell us about your work with DeVotchka and Detour.
KJH: Right now I’m working on two big projects with The Music District [in Fort Collins]. Shawn King [DeVotchKa], our Colorado State Music Ambassador and I, are establishing a base of education and commercial opportunity for Colorado musicians via licensing to Colorado businesses. Most notably, last year Shawn was able to secure Trout Steak Revival, a series of placements for Bank of Colorado’s advertising campaigns. [The second project is with] Detour — a pilot project exploring new models in touring. Our latest Detour centers around Denver hip-hop artist and activist Kalyn Heffernan of Wheelchair Sports Camp. We plan on bringing the music education and empowerment of Denver non-profit, Youth on Record into some of Colorado’s correctional facilities in 2017.
303: Have you worked with other Colorado musicians in the past?
KJH: Absolutely. My brother was a member of Denver punk legends, Pinhead Circus and I’ve been playing with folks around this scene ever since. I was a (brief) member of Gregory Alan Isakov’s band and have done gigs with a lot of the folks you could name from the Colorado music scene — Nathaniel Ratliff, Elephant Revival, Head for the Hills, Tennis, Ian Cooke, Flobots, Paper Bird, Rapidgrass, String Cheese, Yonder Mountain, Leftover Salmon, etc, etc.
303: You’re now teaching at Berklee College of Music — where you also graduated from. Tell us about that.
KJH: It’s really a milestone for me to be teaching at Berklee. I’ve considered teaching to be an intrinsic part of my career and give most of the credit of my successes to the folks who taught me over the years. Berklee is a place where the craft of songwriting can be pursued for a degree and last time I checked, which was a while ago, Berklee was the only songwriting degree program in the entire world! For an art form that is quite literally the backbone of nearly every single piece of the music industry. I think it merits serious academic study and I’ve looked forward to being able to teach the craft of songwriting at that level for many, many years.
303: It seems like you’re a busy guy. Where is your solo career left in the mix of it all?
KJH: I think it’s on my desk — somewhere. I’ll be working on a new solo album this fall in Colorado. Stay tuned!
303: Plan on catching any awesome concerts this summer?
KJH: I’ve really been enjoying all of the free concert opportunities Fort Collins has and have been paying a lot of attention to the local and regional music scene here. It’s been great. Also, the perks of working for The Music District include having residencies by some seriously heavy hitters — Blind Pilot, Mike Block, Gaelynn Lea, Victor Wooten — all in my office! Everyone needs to come check out what’s happening up here sometime!