USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker)
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USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker)


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"Ubiquitous Synergy Seekers (USS) will make the unconventional mainstream"

USS Live at Edgefest By: Sheena Lyonnais
July 23, 2008

Mark my words; Ubiquitous Synergy Seekers are going to be huge. Not only does this duo create intelligent, catchy drum and bass songs, but they also put on an unmatched stellar live performance. Perhaps this is because their influences derive from atypical sources, including a shared love of knowledge and science that stems from early encounters with the unconventional.

“When I was five turning six, Pope John Paul was coming to the Orthodox Church in Markham where I grew up,” said vocalist/guitarist Ashley Boo-Schultz. “There were thousands and thousands of people and the Pope’s helicopter had some kind of hydraulic problem so he was really, really late, and so my dad decided to take us to see Revenge of the Nerds and then we missed the Pope. Now we are playing Edgefest. [That moment] was the break free from secular insecurity into infinite and possible.”

Toronto Band USSAs a child Schulz was diagnosed with chromes disease, forcing him to quit hockey and instead pursue theatre, which transcended into singing and subsequently music. He met the hip hop and punk influenced Jason Parsons, better known as hype man and DJ Human Kebob, years later while working at a golf course, and together they eventually formed what is now known as USS.

“I wouldn’t really necessarily call us a band, we’re more like Buddy Holly at a rave at the science centre and Bob Marley is in a lab coat and then DJ Premier from Gang Starr walks in and we all high five and sit around a camp fire after hours,” Parsons said.

Currently their second single “2 and 15 16ths” sits at number 28 on the Edge top 30 countdown. Their first single “Hollow Point Sniper” rose to number two twice, a huge feat considering drum and bass music has possibly never been in a mainstream Toronto countdown before.

Yet it is these unique attributes that keep them fresh, exciting and more importantly interesting. Their set at Edgefest last weekend was possibly the coolest thing I have ever seen and included everything from choreographed 80s dancers, headstands, crafting a smoothie on stage and a life-sized cut out of Albert Einstein.

“Einstein of course is one of the greatest mastermind geniuses in history, especially in the 20th century, and he had a massive influence on Ash,” Parsons said. “A lot of the lyrics he writes, especially when you get deep into it, when he’s using the word alchemy and stuff like that is more or less because he aspires to be a scientist, be it a scientist of pop or whatever we do.”

Ubiquitous Synergy SeekerDorky as it may seem, their self-proclaimed “nerdcore” is in itself inspiring. When was the last time you heard someone successfully incorporate osmosis and elements like iodine into a song?

“You want to mix in all these inspirational pieces of whatever it is you love or whatever you look forward to and you read about and research and you plug it into the music. We use certain samples and try to convey a certain imagery so its not that you’re just watching a show, there’s more to it, there’s more of a story,” Parsons said.

“Our second single has very profound imagery that could never be captured in video with humans and physical objects, so we just got a VIDEOFACT grant to do a fully animated video, which is going to be really out of this area code,” Boo-Schultz added.

USS is one of these bands music critics everywhere are going to fall in love with because they have things to say and they have opinions and they do it in a fashion that is classy, honest and intellectual. They also double as a duo that is entirely down to earth and value their friendship, the kind of relationship that translates beautifully into music.

They’re also incredibly unpredictable and continuously sharing new things. For example, Boo-Schultz is actually the third cousin of David Hasselhoff (though they have never met) and Parsons has a dream of bringing their music to war-torn Israel.

“With all my studies in the past and in university I became fascinated with Middle Eastern politics and Israel and its right to exist,” Parsons said. “Bands go there and actually play shows and as much as it is volatile it is still a beautiful country and there’s so much turmoil, but it’s inspirational. I spin it positive, but I know it can also be taken as negative.”

If you haven’t seen them already, you NEED to see USS at one of their upcoming dates:

USS Plays Edgefest in TorontoJuly 25 – the Groove Lounge, Oshawa
August 2 – Cutting Edge Music Festival, Grand Bend
August 6 – the Casbah, Hamilton
August 9 – Rock the Mill, Cambridge
September 19 – Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto

Check out their songs at: - Toronto Music Scene

"USS: The Science of Smoothies"

[1] Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker (USS) are a hard band to classify. They are a mash-up of genres that could be both described as “Nirvana Unplugged at the Science Centre,” or “Bob Marley in a lab coat”. Either way you call it, the band members definitely have an amazing chemistry that creates a high-energy atmosphere of beep-driven ballads and whizzy drum n’ bass beats that make you shake your butt.

It’s no wonder they were the big winners at the 2008 CASBYs, sweeping up awards for ‘Best New Song’ (“Hollowpoint Sniper Hyperbole”), and more impressively, walking away with the CASBY championship belt, the ‘Best New Artist’ award. Before the Toronto duo’s victorious fate was revealed that evening, Hardboss was fortunate enough to catch Ashley Boo-Schultz and Jason Parsons (a.k.a. Human Kebab) for an interview to discuss the important matters of nerds, smoothies and fitting in.

The fun-loving stage personas of USS definitely run to the bone. During our conversation, the more the boys joked and laughed, the more it felt like a friendly pub-crawl with pals, complete with jokes about “rocket surgery” and wizardry, than a formal interview.

“We’ve always embraced the Ferris Bueller model” says Ashley, alluding to USS’s nerd-meets-cool-kid love-in aesthetic. But their diligence in bringing these two classically rivalling groups together in sound obviously goes deeper than a campy 80s flick. Jason admits that when he was in high school, he was VP of the student council, while Ashley was the captain of the hockey and football teams. “I was in the drama club, too,” chimes Ashley, referring to his well-roundedness as “Zenaissance.”

And if you think for one minute that these fellas are putting us on with feigned spiritual yarns and jargon, you must consider the near-religious experience they produce during live performances of their final song, “Me vs. Us,” where Ashley lovingly prepares a strawberry-banana smoothie. When jokingly asked what that was all about, Ashley replied with a genuine and erudite explanation: “[The smoothie] is very symbolic of building, of nourishment…there’s this feeling in the room when we’re playing that there’s energy; we call it ‘exponential uprising’ and we ingest that experience. The energy goes into the smoothie while we’re performing it – it’s not just this gimmick of, ‘Hey, let’s make a smoothie onstage.’” In fact the whole performance is scripted, Jason explains with a laugh, “[Ashley] drops a banana in the first verse at the point where he screams ‘I’m here amongst my wildest dreams,’ then he chugs the smoothie.”

Smoothies aren’t the only wild and wacky things going down at a USS show. They have been known to bring guests onto the stage, mainly in the form of corrugated cardboard cut-outs. Being sensitive guys, they make sure that the cut-outs get to bust a move, too, and at the CASBY awards, life-sized cut-outs of Edge personalities were chucked into the audience and sent on a crowd-surfing journey during their 2-song set. The crowd went bananas for USS that night, suggesting something special about this duo. Their musical philosophy is not just lip-service paid to brand them in a certain way.

Listening to their radio hit, “Hollowpoint Sniper Hyperbole,” it’s evident that they’ve got a unique formula of experimentation and poppiness that transcends genres. They probably aren’t too concerned about which hip and cool soups du jour in the Canadian indie scene are being served up, preferring to write music that keeps them comfortable in their skin.

“I feel [hip] is really a subjective thing,” says Ashley, “a lot of it is perception, and we really don’t get into a stance of defending anything as right or wrong, because that’s what makes the world interesting.”

Their no-holds-barred approach to creating music for the masses should ensure that the sky is the only limit for these two. USS are definitely a band to watch as they use their science and savvy for great future musical experiments.

- Irene Angelopoulos

Article printed from Hardboss Magazine:

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[1] Image: - HARDBOSS Magazine

"USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker) Johnny B Club, Oshawa, Ontario Jan. 16, 2009"

With a juicer on hand, USS is prepared and ready for anything that awaits them in 2009. Their style described as Bob Marley in a lab coat held through during their performance at Johnny B’s in Oshawa, Ont.

The crowd of Seekers were provided some good ole local Canadian acts: The Rec Room and The Stables. Props go out to Kris Dickerson (the promoter) for producing such a top-notch show!

The main event of the night, of course, USS were nothing but stellar. Human Kebab, the man...the hype-man, seemed to inject the audience with adrenaline while vocalists Ashley Boo-Schultz kept everyone in a transcendent flow. The show kicked off with the dramatic intro of “2 and 15/16ths” and the rest of the night was history.

It’s hard to believe the Canadian duo, who released their demo and began performing live in the same month, would have their songs on heavy rotation on 102.1 The Edge, and have their first video single “Hollowpoint Sniper Hyperbole” played regularly on MuchMusic and recently were awarded two CASBY awards. USS triumphed over other Canadian greats such as Tokyo Police Club, Bedouin Soundclash and Sam Roberts to win those awards, pretty impressive one might say?

With this much hype just radiating from their EP, Welding the C:/, there are definitely big things to come for USS as their full-length album, Einsteins of Consciousness, debuts early 2009.

- Sean Chin - The Spill (Oshawa ON)

"USS enjoys their drawn-out overnight success"

Things can’t really get much better for Ash Boo-Schultz. His band, Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker (or USS for short), has gone from zero to 60 in the last six months, garnering airplay on Toronto’s 102.1 The Edge earlier this year and spreading like wildfire from there. Now USS has singles (both “Hollow Point Sniper Hyperbole” and “2 and 15 16ths” have been getting regular play here in Victoria) and shows all across the country—the band’s mixture of jungle, drum and bass, reggae, rock, folk, grunge and everything in between (which has garnered labels like “strum and bass” and “progressive dance folk”) has definitely caught peoples’ attention—and Boo-Schultz couldn’t be much happier about it.

“I’m a roofer, so now I only have to do one day a week,” says USS’s affable vocalist-guitarist (the other member of the band, who goes by Human Kebab, is credited as “turntablist hype man extraordinaire”). “I really love doing it, so I don’t really want to go to zero days a week, so this is pretty much as awesome as my life can be.”

While USS’s success may seem like it happened overnight, the idea for a project meshing all of these styles had been incubating since Boo-Schultz first started getting into Toronto’s vibrant jungle/drum and bass scene in the late- ’90s.

“I was playing in psychedelic pop/ska bands and then the first time I really heard jungle, it blew my mind,” he says. “I realised that grunge and drum and bass converged at the same time completely independent of each other. I made it my goal of combining the two.”

That being said, it’s taken a while for USS to spread its wings. “We like to call this a really long, drawn-out overnight success,” says Boo-Schultz. “It’s like we paved the greatest runway ever but the construction supplies had to come from so many far-off places in our imaginations. The takeoff has been the last six months or so and that’s been an extremely accelerated, remarkable, amazing process.”

Part of that takeoff includes their first-ever Victoria gig, which Boo-Schultz says he’s very excited about, despite his last trip to the Island ending in disaster.

“I used to live in Vancouver and I took my bike on the ferry with my tent and a sleeping bag and I rode and wrote songs and just camped,” he recalls. It was all well and good until he got stranded in a freezing rainstorm while trying to ride his bike to Tofino. “I was trying to get to this campsite that just never came. I was like, ‘I can’t stop, it’s getting dark, I have to keep going’ and it just never happened. Then there were no street lights, so I was walking with my bike in the pitch black and there was nowhere to stop because the underbrush is so thick in the woods. I actually got rescued by a race-car driver at 2:30 in the morning.”

Their Victoria show this week is part of the Fringe Block Party, where they’ll be rocking Broad Street along with Bloody Wilma and DJ Marlee. Opening a theatre festival isn’t too much of a stretch for USS, as videos of their performances reveal a high-energy, almost theatrical performance with Boo-Schultz on guitar and Kebab rocking the decks—Boo-Schultz says it was actually his involvement in high-school theatre that led to him becoming a performer. But kicking off the Fringe is just one of many festivals USS has played at this summer.

“We played the mainstage at Edgefest, 102.1’s outdoor festival show, which is über-mainstream, and then the next weekend we played the main stage at WEMF, which is the biggest rave event of the year,” says Boo-Schultz. “It was just such a stunning juxtaposition. That was our goal, being the Ferris Buellers of music . . . I think that ability to get played on hot AC and play at raves and play at Edgefest and play at the Fringe Fest and play with rap groups and reggae groups, rock bands and punk bands—we just embrace it all because we love people and experiences, so why not have tonnes of different ones?”

Not a bad philosophy indeed.

Fringe Block Party
(with USS, DJ Marlee and Bloody Wilma)
7pm Tuesday, August 19
Broad Street between Pandora & Johnson
FREE • - Monday Mag (Victoria, BC)

"Vocab Junkies"

After taking a break from music, Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker broke onto the airwaves & haven’t stopped
Published August 14, 2008 by Andrew Paul in Music Preview

Ubiquitous Synergy seeker
Aug 14 (8pm). Urban Lounge (10544-82 Ave). $8 cover.

Though Toronto’s Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker has yet to play a show in Alberta, Jason Parsons (aka Human Kebab) does have fond memories of our prairie province.

After a year of plugging away at open stages, USS disbanded last winter so that Parsons and partner Ashley Boo-Shultz could do some serious soul-searching. Boo-Shultz headed south to the U.S., while Parsons opted to move to Alberta to work in the oilfield. And that’s exactly when success came knocking.

“When our single got onto the radio,” he recalls, “I was actually in Cold Lake, Alberta, working on a pipeline.” Toronto’s 102.1 The Edge was the first station to pick up “Hollowpoint Sniper Hyperbole,” USS’s now—ahem—ubiquitous, first single. It was picked up shortly after by The Zone in Victoria, and our own Sonic 102.9 followed suit.

All that airtime kicked USS’s career into high gear, and damn fast. “I had to fly back and forth from Edmonton 12 times for shows just because everything happened so quickly,” says Parsons “I flew back [to Toronto] to open for Bedouin Soundclash, and then to shoot a video for ‘Hollowpoint,’ and then for a St. Paddy’s Day show. Every time I went back, there were more and more people on board. 2008 has been an explosion for us.”

As with most indie-success stories, the band came from very humble beginnings. The pair met during a time Boo-Shultz has referred to as a “Picassan Blue Period.” The two were working at a golf course in the greater Toronto area and hit it off instantaneously—Boo-Shultz struck Parsons as a person who operates on a different wavelength from anyone he had ever met. After forming USS, the two slipped easily into their roles: Boo-Shultz would be the “musician,” and Parsons would be the “hype man.” “[Boo-Schultz] has always been the guy with the guitar, the guy writing songs,” Parsons says, “whereas with me, I always knew that I could get into the industry being myself, and delivering the Flavor Flav to [his] Chuck D.”

USS’s style is hard to pinpoint, but let’s call it something between progressive dance folk and a campfire after-party. Parsons says their sound’s origins can be traced to the bizarre recesses of Boo-Shultz’s mind. “[Boo-Shultz] can talk about Einstein for 15 minutes and then somehow relate it to his love of boating and turn that into an alternative mainstream love ballad,” he laughs. Other lyrics are inside jokes between the bandmates and the zealous fans who’ve followed them from day one. The words to “Drop Around the Clock” may sound like rap versions of scientific theories, but actually they’re references to people who’ve attended various USS shows. “Dirty Shirley” was a drink a bartender used to mix for Boo-Shultz at a club where the duo would perform on open mic nights. “It’s like Cadence Weapon and ‘Oliver Square,’” says Parsons, referring to the breakthrough track by Edmonton’s homegrown hip-hop celeb and his willingness to sprinkle arcane local references throughout his lyrics. “‘Oliver Square’ transcended international boundaries.”

As a matter of fact, Parsons says Cadence Weapon would be the perfect artist to bring on board for a remix project. “That guy is absolutely phenomenal,” he says. “To have someone like Cadence Weapon come in would be an honour.” In the meantime, USS is almost finished recording Einsteins of Consciousness, their first full-length album, with help from legendary mastering engineer Bob Ludwig. The album is about 85 per cent finished, and awaits the addition of a few more tracks before it’s ready to go.

“It’s going to be our hello to the world,” says Parsons. - See Magazine (Edmonton AB)

"Seeking synergy"

Optimism is not positivity; optimism is resilience
By Nick Hanekom

Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker

The rise of this indie sensation has lips flapping all over town; here’s why:

Eight months ago, if you’d asked a stranger on the streets if they knew what Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker was, you would either draw blank stares, or be told to watch your mouth.

Back then USS, as it’s been called, was an underground phenom developing a steady reputation for it’s killer live shows. Today, the Toronto duo is receiving extensive radio play and has become somewhat of a hit with urban hipsters and music execs alike.

As chance would have it, a random meeting inside a beer fridge of all places is what brought the musical minds of Ash Boo-Shultz and The Human Kebab together. Not long after that the two discovered a common thread; it would however be a while before they began working on USS in the way we recognize it today.

The months spent tirelessly developing their sound and engaging in guerrilla marketing tactics would soon pay off. Ash however attributes their sudden boom in popularity to a need for something new and fresh; food analogies aside, he explains “we attract these really interesting people to our shows and it’s almost like their radars have gotten turned on … they’re like, ‘we’ve been waiting for you!’”

It wouldn’t be until their 2008 Welding The C:/ record landed on the desk of one Barry Taylor at 102.1 The Edge that people really started to notice these underground party freakers. The smash hit ‘Hollow Point Hyperbole’ took off and became somewhat of an anthem, no thanks to its naughty lyrics and infectious groove.

But pinpointing exactly what kind of music it is that these two produce would prove challenging, even to the most creative music marketing rep. It’s a mishmash of live smoothie making, drum ‘n bass rhythm and acoustic string arrangements that the band refer to as “progressive dance folk.”

Ash says that having been in various other groups prior to USS, “I wondered what it would be like if I took all my favourite types of music and put them altogether.” After a few seconds gathering his thoughts he continues, “and so we were able to create that and in being able to create that, it’s almost like … we jump out of bed in the morning because it won’t exist unless I create it … I feel like this mad scientist inventor” As if to proof a point, Ash adds that he actually has the lab coat of Canada’s first open heart surgeon, which he wears in his apartment.

As far as fans go, Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker attracts as interesting an audience as the music they themselves produce. Ash recalls, “One thing we’ve been called is the Ferris Buellers of music” in reference to a scene from the movie “where the secretary is like, ‘the punks, the dweebs, the dorks everybody loves him’ that’s who’s at our shows, everybody is at our shows. After the laughter subdues he is able to continue, “we just think that everything is everybody in Canada and everyone is everything and we kind of represent that!”

As if its growing street-cred isn’t enough Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker is tearing up the festival scene this summer, most notable is the ever-popular S.C.E.N.E Music Festival 2008.

Having developed a reputation for showcasing independent acts, particularly those from the Niagara Region, S.C.E.N.E celebrates 13 years of rocking the local festival calendar. Taking place in downtown St. Catharines, the event features, amongst others, hardcore heavyweights Cancer Bats and Hip-hop upstarts Down With Webster along with ‘150 bands, 16 stages, 13 venues and the promise of 1 hell of a day!’ - Scene and Heard

"Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker - Welding the C:/"

The organic folk sensibility blends smoothly with the jagged electronic beats and samples to produce a surprisingly fresh hybrid.

By Ryan McGreal
Jun. 5, 2008
Album Cover: USS - Welding the C:/

Being the lowly unpaid editor of a volunteer journal has its benefits, even after accounting for pure narcissism. One of those benefits is the fact that independent music labels occasionally send me review copies of new albums when their bands are coming to town.

Right now I'm listening to Welding the C:/, the new six-song EP by Toronto's Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker (USS). USS are Ash Boo-Schultz and Human Kebab, a charismatic duo who blend live instruments with accomplished turntablism. Their music is a flavourful jambalaya of electronica, drum-n-bass, dub and folk molded into melodic indie pop.

Don't be off-put by the pretentious band name; these guys know how to have fun. By all accounts they put on a hugely energetic show, evidenced in part by the boisterous concert video clips shared by fans.

Boo-Schultz pulls off a sometimes plaintive, sometimes groovy vocal style that recalls Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's Alec Ounsworth, but far less annoying. The lyrics are a dense, dizzying stew of polysyllabic riffs that juxtapose concepts to jarring effect.

I have visions of the lyricist studying Margaret Atwood for inspiration and refering repeatedly to his thesaurus to put together such tongue-defying stanzas as:

Dear Lordosis, please relieve psychosis
Behaviour through osmosis
Dipsogen cirrhosis
The paranoids playing xylophones
With rusty lukatomes
Chordates makes ideal mates
And perfect posture

That song, "Drop Around The Clock," is almost worth the price of admission by itself for its sunburned groove and brash vocals.

I understand that the poppy, radio-friendly single "Hollow Point Sniper Hyperbole" is enjoying solid rotation on 102.1FM.

If that's the only song you've heard, I must stress that most of the EP feels less mainstream and more 'underground'; though track 5, "Pornostartrek", sounds like it would make another radio-friendly single if it can get away with the line, "You make me feel like a porno star".

Opening track "2 15/16" sets the tone for much of the EP with a slow dub groove punctuated by samples, scratching, breakbeats, and Boo-Schultz spitting out lines like, "You're like iodine chasing all the storms away / You're like a black-ops licorice masquerade".

The closing track, Torquoise 1:11, rounds out the album with a bang, laying some intense breakbeats over a chilling, sawtoothed minor-key chord progression, contrasted creepily against a new-agey spoken word piece that reminded me of an old monologue by rave pioneer Frankie Bones.

Welding the C:/ is short and terse, with no wasted tracks and lots of energy to spare. The organic folk sensibility blends smoothly with the jagged electronic beats and samples to produce a surprisingly fresh hybrid.

I look forward to hearing where Boo-Schultz and Human Kebab take their sound next. In the meantime, USS play the Casbah, 306 King St W, Hamilton, on Friday, June 6. If you miss that show, they also play Philthy McNasty's in Burlington on June 21. - Raise The Hammer (Hamilton ON)


EP - Welding The C:/
LP - Questamation



Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker

"You are now, all of you, answering a call."

Their sound is as hard to describe as their name is to say. Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker, better known as USS, are like a campfire after-party with a jungle-rave vibe, progressively two-stepping their way to a dance folk cuddle. Pure intention is the scope they aim through, eliciting dance-floor eruptions is what they’re known for. Science rap on breakbeat tracks anyone?

Ash Boo-Schultz and Human Kebab hail from the towns of Markham and Stouffville, ON., respectively and respectfully. Although they attended rival high schools, vocalist/guitarist Ash and hypeman/turntablist extraordinaire Kebab didn't collide until years later. While employed by the same local golf course, fate ushered them both into a beer fridge that needed reorganizing. A sudden alchemy filled the air between the artists. It was love at first random concept - the catalyst moment to their self-proclaimed "long, drawn-out, overnight success."

The memories are many. In 2008, the band maimed mainstage at 102.1 The Edge's Edgefest alongside Sam Roberts, Linkin Park and Stone Temple Pilots. Next was the World Electronic Music Festival, playing alongside drum n' bass pioneers Andy C., Mickey Finn and DJ SS. Crossing into 2009 and over the US border, USS veered to the infamous Viper Room in Los Angeles and then showcased the legendary Mercury Lounge in New York City. That spring, they shattered the Sonic Boom Festival in Edmonton to the frenzy of 11,000 fans. A spot at the Toronto International Film Festival, three successful western Canadian tours, two CASBY Awards for Best New Artist and Favourite New Single, a Canadian Independent Music Award for Favourite Group of the Year, a Canadian Organization of Campus Activities Award for Best Emerging Artist, and even an Applied Arts Magazine Award for album packaging for Questamation, along with global digital sales have the world embracing the strange they want to see.

The wide scale audience singalongs and dancefloor pandemoniums are sure to continue. USS are singing and scratching up new storms, alongside producer Tawgs Salter (Lights, Elliot Yamin, Josh Groban). The studio's secluded sanctuary allows for frequent intermissions of wondering the woods, wishing on stars, and quiet moments of self-reflection.

"Uplifting lyrics on ska - plus jungle music - equals immune system support."- Ash Boo-Schultz.

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have discovered that upbeat, positive music relaxes the inner lining of the arteries and reduces blood pressure. When science meets spirit, you’re being the strange you want to see in the world. Welcome to USS and the soundtrack of possibility.