I AM THE THIRD

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.

THE BUSHWICK SOUND

“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

THE ORIGINS

“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.”

ONWARD! »»