The idea of a summer research project might bring to mind images of laboratories and libraries. But for Malik Irish ’22, it looks a lot different. The sociology and art double major is currently working on music videos to accompany an EP he’s writing titled Fantasy World: Living in the System. His work is funded through an Emerson research grant.
Majors: Art and Sociology
Hometown: Boston, Mass.
High School: TechBoston Academy
Irish said his project focuses broadly on “how I see myself as a Black person and my identity within society.” Elaborating on this main theme, he added that the EP considers “how my brain looks at the world through these fantasy scenarios or these images I see in my head of places I’d rather be … a bigger, grander, more creative environment for myself.”
Irish said that “everything is coming together” now that he is entering the editing and post-production stages. He has done the recording and mixing himself, using a microphone in his bedroom and Garageband. For the video components, he sometimes enlisted the help of his cousin. “It’s a lot of work,” he said.
Irish has been making music since 2016, when he began producing instrumentals and beats, in addition to dabbling in some songwriting. Since his first experience making a simple song on his phone, Irish said he has been “on a roll” with creating music. “I think that’s really the underlying thing about it: I love music, I listen to music a lot,” he explained. “You start getting ideas in your head, thinking about, well, why don’t artists talk about this?”
The EP’s songs wrestle with such ideas as social visibility, American and celebrity culture, and love, even drawing on “some horror aspects,” he noted. Irish described the music as full of “very spacey, ambient sounds,” while highlighting his attempts to experiment with different genres and embrace new styles. “I’m trying to take more risks,” he said.
In contrast to his years of experience making music, Irish said that video is relatively new to him. His only formal background with the medium is from two Hamilton courses: Introduction to Video and Advanced Video. All the same, Irish explained how translating his music into a visual language came fairly easily: “I thought about it before, I had drawn pictures of it … the difficulty comes in trying to make complex ideas more grounded.”
Looking forward, Irish is keeping his options open. Along with considering a graduate program in film, he also plans to look into positions where he could help other artists develop their work. “If I can do something like that, I would be so grateful,” he said. “I want to be able to supply that support.”