Since he was a young boy, Palestinian native Talal Sisalem ’13 had one goal: to share his music with the world. Now, at 21 years of age, this King’s Academy alumnus is making his dream a reality. A senior at Brigham Young University, Sisalem is determined to make his mark in the industry; he has recorded his own rap videos, using music as his way of influencing positive social change and peace-building efforts in the Middle East. Earlier this year, he spoke with the Department of Communications and Publications about his musical journey and hopes for the future.
Where did you get your inspiration to create music?
The plight of my people in Gaza inspires me every day. I’ve never been to Gaza because I’m not allowed to go; being deprived from seeing my homeland fed a lot into the inspiration behind my music. As a child, my grandparents told me stories about Gaza and I constantly saw photos of the situation on the news, so I’ve been very attached to the struggle of the Palestinian people my entire life. This instilled within me a passion to do something, and when I first started writing music, I wrote about Palestine and the political issues surrounding the conflict.
How and when did you start writing songs?
I began writing when I was around six years old – initially poems. I was particularly good at writing and people around me such as my mom and school teachers encouraged me to pursue this talent. During my teen years, I developed an interest in rap music, so I decided to combine my passion for writing with music and transitioned from writing poetry to rap.
What are some of your favorite lyrics you’ve written?
“Don’t be stuck in a cave of this human condition, of glorifying the peripheral and skewing your vision. All you have to do is try for you to achieve, and all you have to do to try, is to believe. You can accomplish what you can conceive, but you must open up your eyes before you can see.”
Did King’s help nurture your passion for music?
King’s definitely helped me; it provided me with a platform to share my talent with my fellow students and teachers, which prepared me for future performances and enabled me to learn to express myself to big audiences. I was even given the freedom to start and lead my own extracurricular activity which combined music composition and dance choreography. All in all, King’s encourages students to think outside the box and strive for excellence, both things that are necessary for a successful career in music (or any other field!).
What advice would you give to up-and-coming musicians?
Just focus on your passion. Many people will try to convince you otherwise and turn you away from your path, but you must be resilient and have faith in yourself and your abilities. If everyone followed the same path, the world would be void of breakthroughs and discoveries. So whether it’s music or anything else, follow your heart and work hard at what you truly love.
Why did you decide to create music videos?
I wanted to share my art with my friends and family and, ultimately, the world. I’ve been making music for a long time and I’m finally at the stage where I feel eager and confident to share it with everyone!
Are you working on any other music projects now?
Yes, I am always working on music. I’m working on my debut LP which will be released in 2017 and I’ll have several music videos to go with it as well! My aim is to always keep growing and improving so that my next projects hopefully outdo my previous ones.
Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?
I hope one day to reach a platform where I’m able to influence positive social change, and to contribute to peace-building efforts in the Middle East. Music is just one tool that God gave me to able to reach that goal. I also hope to keep inspiring people with my music and make a living doing what I love.