WRITTEN BY: VALERIE CHEN
Control + Alt + Delight: a straightforward and effective keyboard combination that illustrates 22-year-old Irvine resident Ali Jafari’s “always-looking-forward-and-never-looking-back type” of lifestyle. As founder of music blog Control + Alt + Delight, Jafari, who takes on the alias “skinny genes”, leads a group of fellow music lovers to cover a multitude of diverse music styles.
Jafari says his team members are all passionate experts in their respective niches. He trusts them to not only find and share music but also think and work in the same way he does: with optimism and determination. Ali “+Janbar” Jangbarwala specializes in hip-hop and dubstep. Liz “Witler” Witt takes on an array of styles, including Indie, folk, rock and pop. Andrew “Mr. Vos” Mrvos contributes with electronic, techno and dubstep. Last but not least, rounding out the group is Phil “PHILM” Mendoza, who Ali calls their “wonderkid” and who takes care of photography and media.
With weekly “YOLO” lists consisting of short blurbs introducing the linked songs available for download, the blog supplies to and satisfies music lovers eager for sweet new tunes to fill their iTunes libraries.
What’s more, these music recommendations, songs and constant positive vibes are all free. The C+A+D crew just does it for the love of the music.
And,the perk of scoring interviews with well-known artists and free concerts probably doesn’t hurt. But let’s be honest – they deserve it.
Jafari took some time out of his busy schedule juggling both almost graduating from UCI and his passion of music to answer a few of our questions about C+A+D. Read on to find out how it all began, why the lists are called YOLO and where the company is going in the future. Negative Nancies beware, his upbeat attitude is infectious. It’s impossible not catch on to his refreshing positivity.
ten57: I’m assuming you’ve always been an avid music enthusiast. When and why did you decide to turn that passion into Control + Alt + Delight?
Jafari: For as long as I can remember, I’ve been really into music. Finding it. Listening to it. Talking about it. Seeing it live. Sharing it with people. That’s mainly what made me start C+A+D. I found out about blogs and wanted to share music with people on a wider scale. I joined my friend’s blog, which was more focused on EDM. I wanted to be able to write about anything and everything musically related to my taste, or whoever is on my team. SO…I started my own.
t: In the “About” section on the website, Control + Alt + Delight is explained as “a community of people who make it a priority to look past everyday struggles and maintain happiness through a positive outlook on everything” – certainly an admirable goal. Can you elaborate on this?
J: If ever I can get into a conversation that exceeds small talk, I try to bring this concept up. I try to make people think hard about what they love and convince them on working everyday to turn it into a career choice. Through a positive outlook and a maintained happiness, this is possible!
No matter where we are in life; or how rich or poor we are; or what we have or don’t have there is going to be something to complain about. Something we’re not happy about. I want people to look past those things and turn that focus towards things that contribute to them living the life they love.
When you’re trying to motivate someone and you don’t practice what you preach, it’s hard to get through to someone. That’s one of the great things about C+A+D. People see me working towards what I love and that it’s growing, and they are more inclined to believe me. It’s all about being credible nowadays.
t: Each week, a new “YOLO” list is available to download. How do you feel about Drake commercializing it in Week 68 of your YOLO lists?
J: It started with me wanting to keep people open minded to new music, and in that, open minded to everything in life. There is SOME good in everything, so it’s good to give things a shot. The term “YOLO” goes back to people working towards the life they love. You only live once, so there’s no point in wasting any part of it doing something meaningless to your existence. I’m not trying to work the majority of my life only to retire and THEN enjoy my life. I want my whole life to be retirement.
How do I know I’m not going to get hit by a car on my way out of school today? How do I know this building I’m in isn’t going to collapse while I’m inside it? I just want to make sure that I made the most out of every last second. This may come off as wishful thinking to some, but there are people out there doing what they love and getting paid for it. There is no reason why it can’t be you or me. They’re no more qualified or deserving of a good life than you or me or anyone. They just had a vision, set a goal, made the plans and worked until they got it. It’s entirely up to us.
t: How do you personally choose the songs available to download in your YOLO lists? Do you ever look back and regret putting up certain songs?
J: I hate the idea of regrets. There’s no point. Why dwell on something that’s happened in the past that you have no control over? The point is to learn and use everything to efficiently move forward in life. I’m not trying to be bro like “NO REGRETS!!!!!” But I just don’t see the point.
Anyway! The YOLO list is pretty much just a documentation of my music journey, for lack of a better way to put it. I look for and find music daily. Definitely too much to post. So I save the best of the best of that week and use them for half of the YOLO list. The other half consists of me shuffling through my library and landing on something that mixes up the genres. It’s old and new stuff, but definitely timeless.
It’s kind of a bummer that Drake used YOLO, because it took away from what I wanted to build YOLO to be.
I wanted people to really believe in YOLO. Now that he’s said it and people are throwing it around a lot, I feel like it gets looked over. Or people are annoyed of it. I still stand by it though, and try to get people to follow. It’s important to understand its concept.
t: Keeping the community involved is obviously a huge aspect of the website’s success. How do you ensure that people are actively participating and appreciating your hard work?
J: There’s no real way to ensure that people are getting all the stuff we put up. A good way to keep track is by the amount of ‘Likes’ it gets on the actual page, or people commenting about stuff on our Facebook. That’s the best. I love talking to random people about music. Music is the universal language, so it’s cool to connect with people I’ve never met or talked to before.
t: What has been the best part of this experience? The worst?
J: The best part is the payoff. Nothing monetary, but we all absolutely LOVE to go to concerts. I’ve been going for nearly ten years, and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it. C+A+D has enabled me to go to some free shows and be able to meet and interview some of my favorite artists/DJs. Just talking to them and seeing how they’ve gone about creating such beautiful things, and what it’s like to be living their dream. It’s awesome.
Worst part? Probably the stress that involves moving forward and growing in a world of thousands of blogs doing the same thing. It’s hard to motivate people when the return isn’t as instant or tangible, but I love to do it. I want to run my own business. So it’s cool to be doing that on a small scale with C+A+D.
In time, it will grow to be something great, because I truly believe it to be so.
t: If you could interview any musician/band in the world – dead or alive – who would it be? What is the number one question you would have to ask?
J: Well, my favorite band ever is The Strokes. I’ve seen them in all their glory once in San Francisco at Outside Lands and then again at Coachella in 2011. They’re just the ultimate to me. This is a tough question, I don’t know what I could ask that would be worthy of an answer. Probably what their all-time favorite albums were. I always ask that in interviews. It’s cool to see the influences of people that I love.
t: What can we expect from Ctrl + Alt + Delight in the future?
J: You can just expect to be hearing about us for a long time. I want to be working on this forever. I love to do it, and that’s the point. The whole team does. Just need a new website, some merchandise, and we should see a steady increase in following in no time. Patience is key.