When I reached out to some friends at Big Ticket Productions looking for a student musician on campus to interview, they instantly told me to contact Maher Hachem. I realized I had seen Maher around North Quad a few times this semester, but hadn’t struck up a conversation with him. He gave off a bit of a “too-cool-for-school” vibe, so I was a little nervous that he wouldn’t be interested in speaking with me. I was pleasantly surprised to receive enthusiastic responses from him, and he was eager to sit down and tell me more about his rapper alter ego, Munch. The more I’ve interacted with Maher, the clearer it becomes to me how passionate, determined, and thankful he is. That’s why I’m so excited for him to open for Juicy J this Tuesday – it’s incredible to see someone who is both kind and talented achieving their dreams. Read on and I’m sure you’ll be rooting for Munch too!
Name: Maher Hachem
Hometown: West Bloomfield
Major: Bachelor of Science in Information, minoring in Performing Arts Management
Extra Curriculars: Big Ticket Productions
Fun Fact: My favorite destination to travel to is Jamaica
Her Campus: Tell us a bit about your music career and your first projects as an artist.
Maher Hachem: I started making music back in my freshman year of high school. It kind of transitioned to me loving music so much that I wanted to find a way where I could make it a part of my life. I wanted it to be more of an art form rather than me being a consumer of music. I just wanted to take that first step and see how I liked it. My friends would play beats and I’d freestyle randomly – it got to a point where my cousin from Windsor said he had a studio in Ontario that I could go to. I ended up coming out there and the rest is history. I’ve been going there for probably seven years now. My engineer is my best friend – if it’s not music we’re talking about, it’s life, working out, anything.
HC: That’s awesome – can you tell us a bit more about your team?
MH: I’m mainly the one overseeing my music, whether it’s booking shows or people reaching out to me for interviews, planning releases, planning videos. I don’t have a professional manager; my personal manager is my engineer. He gives me a second opinion whenever I need it – if I have any shows or interviews coming up, I give him a call and we’ll just go over it together to figure out the best way to expose people to my music.
HC: What’s your favorite show you’ve ever played?
MH: I did a Blind Pig show last year. I was opening for this guy Futuristic. That was a really good show, the whole crowd was really active. When you’re an opener, sometimes the crowd is really stale, but that show the crowd was vibing the whole time. It was a really cool feeling.
HC: What can you tell us about Beaches, your most recent project? How long had you been working on it, and what went into making it?
MH: Beaches has been a year-and-a-half to two-year process. My project before that, “New Kid,” came out in 2012. That was me just trying to find my style. Once that came out, I really wanted to hone in on a subject, emotion or theme and relate it to a project. I was making all this really laidback music, but other songs were upbeat. I wanted to bring everything together, so the project would be kind of an escape for people. When I think of an escape, I think of the beach. That’s the only I wanna be – sitting there, soaking my feet in the sand, the sun beaming on me, the ocean’s there. It’s the most relaxing feeling where I can just reflect – I wanted to take that idea and create a project around it. I wanted to create an escape for people to just get away from the every day stresses of school, lifestyle, and work and just be able to pop in the CD and just feel the vibe from front to end.
HC: I’m sure you’ve been asked this before, but where does the name Munch come from?
MH: When I first started making music, I had to find an alter ego. I had a friend Cameron who was making music with me, and we started off as a duo. We wanted to something with “C” and “M” from our names, so it initially started off as “Crunch and Munch.” He decided to fade away from it and focus on school, and I was just gonna keep going. I kept Munch – instead of changing the name, I wanted to create an image that surrounded the name. When people heard the name Munch, I didn’t want them to think of eating – I wanted them to think of the musician.
HC: Do you internalize Munch? Or is it more of a character that you play?
MH: When you meet me, I’m Maher. When you find out I make music, I become Munch. A lot of people first meet me and get to know who I am, and then they find out I make music. Then they’ll just start calling me Munch. They see how the music embodies my persona – I love it. I think it’s dope.
HC: Any chance you could tell us about any upcoming projects or performances you have?
MH: I have two new music videos coming out in the beginning of the year – both are singles off the project [Beaches]. I’m doing a video for Sriracha and a video for The World Is a Beautiful Place. The treatments are low key – I like surprising people and don’t want to give them a predisposed feeling. [Note: this was before it was announced Munch would be opening for Juicy J]
HC: What is your role artistically in making the making of these videos?
MH: For my last video for X Memories, I worked with a director named Cy [Abdelnour]. He’s local and a Michigan alum. We sit down, find a song and just hash out ideas and things we feel during each part of the song. It’s more like he’s directing it and I’m producing it – and he’s co-producing it and I’m co-directing it at the same time. He does all the editing and the cuts while I feed him my ideas so he can make them a reality.
HC: You’re a full-time student in BSI. How do you balance this heavy course load with your music career?
MH: The most important thing for me is having a schedule. Every weekend on a Sunday, I just try to plan out my week ahead. When you’re passionate about something, it’s not something you make time for – it’s something you build your schedule around. That’s what I do with my music. I have my school schedule, and every free moment I have I do whatever I can to market my music or just make the music. Every day I try to get in at least an hour or two, whether it be updating my social media, my website, or just reaching out to different promoting outlets.
HC: Do you see your interests in music and web development intertwining at all in the future?
MH: What I loved about the BSI program is that when you design websites, you have to have a creative, imaginative mindset. A website is a canvas, and it’s art. It’s either a good website or a bad website. I’m just trying to find a crossroad where I can integrate my music and web development together. I’m working through the School of Information to build my new site now.
HC: Do you have any advice for aspiring student musicians on campus?
MH: The University of Michigan is prestigious, and there’s so many different outlets that students can go to where you can get advice, guidance, and tools to actually make music. It’s really about putting yourself out there if you want to make music. You need to step outside your box and let people know you’re doing it. My advice would be to just pursue it, enjoy it, and don’t fake it. I don’t like faking it.
Be sure to check out Munch this Tuesday opening for Juicy J at the Michigan Theater, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Soundcloud @MunchMusic! All photos courtesy of Maher Hachem.