Berklee Online Instructor's Songs Appear in The Big Sick

Kimberly Ashton
August 4, 2017
Berklee Online instructor Kyle James Hauser '07
Image by Lindsay Giles McWilliams

As the two main characters in the hit movie The Big Sick settle in for a heart-to-heart, Kyle James Hauser’s “Life, Love, and Pain” floats from a laptop in the background, subtly punctuating the conversation.

The song tucks into the scene in a way that enhances the dialogue without ever competing with it, gently amplifying its effect. “It’s very commensurate with a lot of the work I’ve done in film and TV, where … just like in our daily lives, music ends up being something that’s going on in our environment and we’re not necessarily engaging with it,” Hauser ’07, says, adding that he thought the music placement well-fitted and effective.

The tune, off his first album, 2011’s Oh Oh, found its way into The Big Sick after the movie’s music supervisor asked Hauser’s label, SonaBLAST!, for some submissions for a film but didn’t give any more details about the project. Since “Live, Love, and Pain” had gotten traction in MTV’s 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom, the 2014 movie Where Hope Grows, and a number of independent films, the label sent the song along. Upon hearing it, the music supervisor dove deeper into Hauser’s catalog and found another track, “So Long,” off Hauser’s 2014 album, You a Thousand Times, that he also wanted in the movie.

Watch the video for Kyle James Hauser's "Live, Love, and Pain":

Despite his success placing songs on screens big and small, Hauser does not write pieces specifically for these mediums. Rather, he’s a long-time touring singer-songwriter and banjo player who has released 16 albums, including the two solo records, and now teaches songwriting at Berklee Online. He recently dramatically cut back on the 200 to 300 live shows he was doing a year and moved to Fort Collins, Colorado.  

Though most Berklee alumni settle in Los Angeles, New York, or Nashville—and Hauser has lived in the latter two—he chose Colorado because he found he could get consistent work with good guarantees there, partly because of the state’s thriving tourism economy.

Inspired by the potential that musicians have to make a living in the state, Hauser founded the Music District, a five-building campus in Fort Collins that supports professional development for adult musicians. “In my kind of dream world we could see a resurgence of a really healthy middle class of musicians,” he says.

Paying It Forward

And he’s helping to develop the next generation of songwriters. In January 2017, he joined the faculty of Berklee Online to teach songwriting. “I just always knew that if I was going to get to teach and talk about songwriting at the level I’m passionate about, I would have to teach at Berklee,” he says.

Hauser finds the online setup to be a good platform for his class, and was impressed by the amount of material the students were able to take in through videos and live online interactions. More than that, though, he says, despite the physical distance, he was amazed that by the end of semester he felt a personal relationship and rapport with the students, and they had built connections among themselves.

He tries to go out of his way to be available to his students, as his Berklee professors once did for him—something he counts as crucial to his success. “I’ve always said that the only reason I’ve got to where I am is because of the lessons that my teachers gave me over the years.” Paying that forward, he says, is an essential part of being a good musician and a good human being.