Been Stellar band interview on their music

NYC based Been Stellar returned with new single ‘My Honesty’ and would not change the masterpiece.

The track was produced by Aron Kobayashi Ritch, a key component in much-hyped Brooklyn band Momma.

‘My Honesty’ is a superb piece of guitar pop, somehow blending dreamy elements with something more barbed, and direct.

Been Stellar (Sam Slocum on vocals, Skyler St. Marx on guitar, Nando Dale on guitar, Nico Brunstein on bass, and Laila Wayans on drums) is our favourite new addition to the enticing coven of NYC post-punk bands interested in creating music that has the melody, vigour and rawness of the city.

If you were going to throw around NYC comparisons then there’s certainly aspects of Interpol’s gothic grandeur in the guitars, while the spoken word segment feels worthy of Sonic Youth.

It’s held together by a real vitality, and a sense of purpose, one that pushes Been Stellar out of the reach of those broad brushstroke comparison points.

Been Stellar say: “This is the first song we wrote after having been separated due to lockdown. We had just moved into our bunk bed apartment on the lower east side and started rehearsing in Ridgewood. It was a summer of long blistering days, since no one was quite able to work yet, so the only real space where we could do anything productive was there.”

How long have they been a band? Sam and Skylar have been making music together since high school. I think as a band, we’ve been together for four years now. I should say that a year of that was during Covid when we were all scattered on different sides of the country. We were still working together on stuff but it wasn’t the same as being together like we are now. I should also say that the first year or so together felt sort of like a trial run, because they [Sam and Skylar] came together from high school with songs already written and the rest of us learned them and built off of them. It has been fully collaborative and feels more like a proper five-piece more recently. This last year we have taken it very seriously and it’s feeling good. Sort of a complex answer, but this solid iteration of the band is a bit over a year old.

“After trying a bunch of different musical hats on for a week or two, this sort of just spilled out of us. That initial instrumental bit reminds me so much of the restlessness those few months brought us – it sounds like the tension of us being isolated from one another finally breaking.”

“I think another constant influence for us is The Velvet Underground and Lou Reed, specifically. The thing for me is that I really like music that has to exist in a certain time and place. Recently I’ve been really obsessed with making songs that sound sort of location-specific. Not that every song we write is about New York City, or hardly any, actually. It’s just that our music has to exist in a place.”

“Lyrically, the song is about the search for authenticity in oneself. The pandemic really made us realize that we were previously really trying hard to achieve someone else’s vision artistically – i.e. the sounds and aesthetics of our influences. This sort of serves as an oath to ourselves that the only things worth pursuing are those that we can confidently claim are our own.”

On being a guitar band in New York CityI think it has for a while. We were talking about this with someone else who asked us who we think was the last New York band to define the scene in some way, and the only real choice is The Strokes. I think post-Strokes New York bands have been fucking cursed. I think now, it’s been long enough, and people are reconsidering what a band can be, which also has a lot to do with what’s happening in the scene in Europe with bands like Fontaines DC, Shame, Protomartyr, Iceage. There’s a hole opening up in the guitar music genre for bands like us to push through”.

Tune in now.

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Joanna Fletcher
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