13 07 2013

New music writing from Ignas Bautrenas!

“It’s important to have goals and dreams,” Alec Stephens III tells me, the lead singer and frontman of the soulful and funky Bushwick music collective I AM THE THIRD, “and to me it kind of speaks to the music that we create, which is positive, but real. Stuff that people struggling could relate to, people hustling could relate to, people striving could relate to… Celebrating where you are and where you want to go – that’s what our music is to me.” Minutes ago I AM THE THIRD successfully headlined the show at Rockwood Music Hall, a two-space venue located on one of the many dimly lit streets of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It’s not an easy task for a local music collective – that isn’t even local to the area they are playing – to bring a big crowd for the show that begins less than an hour to midnight on a Sunday, but I AM THE THIRD did just that and the band couldn’t be happier with the big turn-out. It’s now long past midnight and we are standing outside the venue in the breeze too cold for April. Constantly interrupted by the local homeless we are chatting about the essence that makes I AM THE THIRD the band that it is today.


“A lot of people ask me what genre of music we play, and I could never quite pinpoint it. The sound that we create comes from many different musical inspirations,” bassist Kat Melen shares. “However different, those inspirations are blending together really well at this point,” adds keyboardist Brandon Bujnowski. “We’ve been together for two years now and all of our different styles and backgrounds that we come from are turning into one thing that is I AM THE THIRD. We have ‘the sound’ now that we all understand and respect.”

“Prince pioneered the Minneapolis sound,” Kat laughs, ”so I guess we’re pioneering the Bushwick sound.”

We all laugh along, but she is right. It’s difficult to accurately describe the band’s sound. Although deeply rooted in soul, funk, R&B, and indie rock, the music that I AM THE THIRD creates is nothing like any of the mentioned genres. It’s an original explosion of telepathic energy within a large group of people. The musicians are then able to radiate that same energy onto the crowd and pull everyone around them into their own positivity ritual. A tight rhythmic section, consisting of the drummer Steve Rays, percussionist LS Bell, and bassist Kat Melen, provides an ever-present tribal spirit. Brandon Bujnowski’s quick and playful touch on keys dances along to the beat, while Dan Victor’s guitar ties the whole wild rhythm together. As the soulful voice of Alec Stephens III soars over the music you can imagine the risky harmonies falling apart at any second, but they never do. The musicians feel exactly where they are all going with their music and they hit it just right.

“Groove Machine” live performance from Rockwood


“I come from an acting background,” Alec tells me, “but when I moved to Brooklyn I was inspired by the music scene there. Soon enough I wanted to be a part of it.”

“First time I met Alec,” Dan recalls, “he was the MC at a newly formed Potion Collective open mic. He would introduce the bands that went on to play.”

A lot of musicians of I AM THE THIRD met in one way or another through these Potion Collective open mic nights, but Alec was the catalyst that put the band together. “He really has a vision and we let him guide that vision,” Dan explains. “We all come from different backgrounds musically and we all contribute our own personal touch. We create music that truly is a blend. We’re inspired and we’re trying to attain a certain level of being, a connection with people.”



INTERVIEW: Christian Peppas of The Amatory Murder

27 08 2011

The Amatory Murder is a New York City band to watch!

At its core is founder, composer, and lead vocalist Christian Peppas, who was able to transform his passionate project into a full-blown electro/synth-rock band that recently headlined at Gramercy Theatre for their latest release, A Different Frequency.

It doesn’t take long at all to see how dedicated Christian is to his craft. This band is built on good ol’ fashioned hard work, a genuine love for music, a fascination with communication, and a meticulous attention to detail. We spoke with him to find out what life is like on his frequency, making music in NYC and living a lifelong dream.

First off – where are you from and when did you start making music? If you weren’t born there, how did you come to Brooklyn?
I’m a born and bred New Yorker originally from Flushing, Queens. As a kid I was always writing silly songs about anything – usually just for myself – but it wasn’t until high school that I was in my first rock band. Around that time I also purchased my first recording device – a Korg D8.

I moved to Brooklyn about 7 years ago because I wanted to be a part of the whole artistic resurgence that seemed to be happening. For me, between all the art galleries and music venues that keep popping up, Brooklyn is the new Rome of New York. Andrew [Archey] and Eric [Grossarth] are from Queens as well, Mario [Drakos] is from Greece, and O.T. [Turbold] is from Mongolia. We all met each other by way of Craigslist.

The Amatory Murder seems to have began its journey as YesMisterBloodVessel. How is TAM different from that band, and how and when did TAM come to be?
I got to a point in my life where I realized I didn’t want to continue working corporate jobs where I had to sit in a cubicle all day. I mean, I could do it, but aside from the money it was never really fulfilling for me. Music is the one thing that’s always been consistent in my life, that’s always made me happy (or in some cases moved me to tears). Ever since I was a kid watching old videos of The Beatles I knew I wanted to be a rock star.

Getting a serious band together – a band that is really willing to sacrifice and work at their goals – in New York is a lot harder then you would think. Everyone says they WANT to be in a band, but many times when it comes down to it that isn’t the case. It truly is a job in itself, so not everyone is up to the task (which is totally understandable). So, I decided to create my own from scratch, and thus YesMisterBloodVessel (a name I came up with while watching Magical Mystery Tour) was born.

Over the last few years, the band went through so many different lineups before it was what it is now. Additionally, I got very versed in utilizing synthesizers and atmospheric textures in the composing process, so the overall sound of the band changed. Ultimately, myself and Mario decided to re-name the band to The Amatory Murder, a name that is way easier to say and remember than YesMisterBloodVessel.

As the founder and primary composer, the music must be very personal for you. What inspires you – music and in general?
Writing – whether it be through music, poetry, visual art, etc – is a very personal thing for most people. Being a composer has allowed me to channel energy into art – in this case songs – and have an outlet. Plus, I’m lucky enough to have people in my band that are amazing at communicating on their instruments and totally “get” the things I write about. I’m inspired by emotions and communication, within myself and with those outside. The human mind is an absolutely astounding thing. When you’re really honest with yourself and willing to explore your darkest recesses, it’s pretty fulfilling because you end up confronting certain truths and learning things about yourself.