My West Texas Adventures: Blue Origin


Note: I have been missing blogging so much. There are so many ideas and observations I want to share. I intended on archiving this blog and just let it be. Meanwhile, I've tried Medium, Tumblr and, yes, even Wordpress as a potential new home to share my writing. But there is so much to proud of here. I started this TypePad blog in 2002 and this is where I belong. The blog design is terribly out of date and nobody may even check this URL anymore, but the point really is to get that craving to write out of my system once a while. It may not be about music, but I will likely be about my travel, books, interests and causes I care about. Anyways, this is the place where I will put pen to paper and share my random musings with you.

I love rockets. I love space. I love to think that some time in the near future humanity will launch a manned mission to mars. Wow. Just amazing to think we're in reach of making that happen.

During the winter break I ventured out on a road trip to West Texas. Super random, but I wanted to feel off the grid and away from the bubble, and West Texas gave me what I had hoped for. While en route I made a left turn on Interstate 10 at Van Horn, TX coming from Texas Route 54 to head to El Paso. Little did I know that just slightly north of Van Horn, space exploration firm Blue Origin has its launch facility. Slightly bummed I didn’t drive by there to see if any rockets were getting prepared for lift off.

I’ve been reading Lawrence Wright’s excellent God Save Texas, which provides a great overview of the history of Texas and what makes the state so unique (here’s a clue: it’s “rugged individualism”). Wright notes in his book that Jeff Bezos quietly purchased huge amounts of lands in West Texas to accommodate Blue Origin’s launch installation but also build an area that can grown into a hub for space tourism. Because, yes, that’s Bezos’ plan.

Blue Origin has quietly made a lot of progress in its mission and is scheduled to send the first tourists into suborbital space by the end of this year. That’s wild. Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket concept is smart. It features a reuseable rocket (that lands vertically following lift-off) with a passenger capsule on top that boasts extra large windows for optimal space viewing. The capsule will be disconnected from the launch rocket and after a quick whirl in space will fall back to earth and land with a parachute.

Blue Origin is planning a launch of the New Sherpard (as pictured above) early 2019 and if the timing works, I may head back to Texas to see it. I have never seen a rocket go up into space and it’s a bucket list item that’s in reach. It feels like we’re on the cusp of commercial space flights becoming real and that is very, very exciting.

(Image courtesy of Blue Origin.)

Music Lab with MNEK: A Candid Chat with One of Pop’s Most Important New Artists


It was so exciting to sit down with MNEK this weekend to chat about everything Pop for a special edition of Music Lab at Apple Regent Street in London. I have known MNEK for over 9 years and I’m so incredibly happy to see how he has continued to evolve and impact the world of pop in a very profound way. Check out my very first blog post about his music here (from 2009!)

MNEK is a prolific writer/producer who has worked on music for Madonna, Beyonce, Little Mix, Kylie Minogue, Rudimental, Dua Lipa, Zara Larsson and the list goes on and on. He’s gearing up to release his own artist album this year that has been long in the making. He has released two singles this year to give us a taste of the album. Earlier this year, MNEK shared "Tongue" and just a few weeks ago he unveiled his mighty bop, titled "Colour," that features Hailee Steinfeld.


"Colour" is the theme song of the Beats by Dre Pop Collection that was officially released last Friday. It’s a fresh and colorful new take on the classic Solo 3 wireless headphones that was inspired by the palette of Spanish street artist Okuda.

MNEK and I talked about the making of "Colour" (he brings out all the colors of the rainbow, make sure to check it out), his work on Christina Aguilera’s new album (he co-write "Deserve" together with Julia Michaels, a stunning track) and his past writing work with artists like Madonna and Beyonce.

MNEK spoke candidly about being an openly gay male pop star of color. He’s starting an important conversation about individuality in pop — paving the way and pushing the pop frontier forward. He’s become a role model for many just by being himself — out, proud and loud in all the right ways. He scrapped his debut album in 2016, pressed the reset button, lived life and is now gearing up for the release of his debut LP. It was a great conversation followed by an acoustic performance of "Colour."

MNEK is an important artist with a unique point of view that has the potential to reach people far and wide — and at 23 years-old, he’s only just getting started.

Bazzi: It’s Written in the Stars


I’m completely blown away and so proud of my guy Bazzi.

The 20 year-old pop trailblazer played his first show supporting Camila Cabello on her North American tour that kicked of in Vancouver last night.

Bazzi delivered a world-class show. His performance was effortless, invigorating and filled with joy — from the heart-filled “Beautiful” to the playful “Star,” and from the soaring “Why” to his smasher “Mine” that had the entire crowd up on their feet singing along from start to finish.

When I first met Bazzi and heard his music last summer, I knew he was destined for stardom. His show tonight was solid proof of that. His love for music, singular vision and charismatic stage presence all came together for a truly magical pop moment.

Bazzi fully expresses his vision and distinct sonic aesthetic on his debut album, aptly-titled COSMIC, that will be released on Thursday. It will be without a doubt one of the finest releases of the year that make Bazzi one of 2018’s break out artists. It’s written in the stars.

The state of Pop is strong.

Visiting the Famed Cheiron Studios in Stockholm Where Pop History Was Made...

image from

A few weeks ago, I was in Sweden to dive into the local pop scene and I finally had the opportunity to tour the famed Cheiron Studios in Stockholm. Now called Roxy Recordings, this is the studio complex that was founded by the late Denniz PoP in the early '90s. Cheiron became the breeding ground of some of the greatest pop music ever recorded. Following PoP's passing in 1998 , Max Martin took over the studio and engineered a sound at Cheiron that turned artists like Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys and N*Sync into mega-acts. In fact, it was in this studio that Britney Spears recorded "Baby One More Time" and most of her debut album. Fans used to camp out when Backstreet Boys recorded here and they had to install a secret elevator so the group could enter and exit the building without issue.  Pop magic was made here and I felt so lucky to go inside and see the studios. It was very special to be in the same room that young Britney used to record her first songs alongside Max Martin. If only I could have been a fly on the wall back then. 

Learn more about the history of Cheiron Studios on Wikipedia.