Samsara is a teen alt-rock band based in the suburbs of New York, formed by Dylan Trif, lead singer; Charlie Lomonaco, lead guitar; John Devito, bass; Brendan Sandhovel, second guitar; Ben Bustamante, drums. The band started making music together in 2018 when they were still high school students, and it all started from the stories of love and friendship that you have in those years. Rock is their main genre, but they can also mix it with grunge and modern pop-rock. Their musical influences are artists such as Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, Highly Suspected, Stone Age Queens and Foo Fighters. They have recently released their first album titled “Paralyzed in Paradise”, from which is taken the single of which we will talk today, entitled “Nevermind”. Everything has a taste of rock ’90s, but with taste and modern sounds! The band is incredibly young and knows which direction to go in; we’d love to see them and listen to them live, but for the moment let’s enjoy their interview and get to know their music better!
YMX: Hey SAMSARA, thanks for talking to us. How have these gloomy times been treating you?
SAMSARA: Brendan (Guitar/Bass): The experiences that we have faced as a band over the past eleven months have undoubtedly been challenging. As we entered March, there were many promising shows and events on the horizon that got abruptly cancelled due to the pandemic. Although this complication seemed to have rid us of countless opportunities, it simultaneously gave us the chance to devote our time to different aspects of our work. Despite being forced to stay home and not collaborate with one another in person, we continued to consistently writing new music, record songs on our own, and plan out our band’s future.
Dylan (Lead Singer): in all honest not too bad i’ve just been getting thru and writing music.
Ben (Drummer): it definitely hasn’t been that easy having to stay home and do everything remote. I miss gigging, going to live shows, being free….not having to worry about COVID.
Charlie (Lead Guitar): t’s been ok, kind of rough but we are getting through it I think.
John (Bass): The pandemic situation has definitely made it more difficult to get things done with the band because of social distancing, but luckily we were able to record our EP. Unfortunately live shows are prohibited at this time but we are really looking forward to playing live again.
YMX: How did you decide music was something you wanted to pursue? Are there any particular episodes that inspired you in doing so?
SAMSARA: Dylan (Lead Singer) : My dad is a drummer a bought a new kit when i was 8 and he taught me the basics and ever since then i’ve loved playing music and its what i want to do with my life.
Charlie (Lead Guitar): For me, I decided music was what I wanted to do when I had to think about what I wanted to do with my life and I said why not do what I love doing. For SAMSARA, I had been wanting to form a band and make music since I had started playing the guitar when I was around 10/11, and there were many episodes or events that persuaded me into wanting to do music for a living. One was my highschool spanish teacher, when we were talking about college after class and I expressed how I was interested in physics, he looked at me with the biggest wtf face and said go study music, study something you are actually passionate about.
Ben (Drummer): I knew from a very young age that I wanted to play music. after I played the drums on stage for a summer music camp, I knew I wanted to do it again. I loved how it made me feel.
John (Bass): I knew music was something I wanted to peruse when I started getting experience playing with a full band, around the same time I met Charlie and Ben. I loved playing with them on stage and at our local music school.
Brendan (Guitar/Bass): I plan to make the most of my time as a teenager by continuing to write and perform music with my friends. Going to my first rehearsals with the band and not only getting a substantial amount work done, but also having a lot of fun while doing so inspired me to want to pursue this band during my high school years.
YMX: Here’s a fun game: name 3 artists, or bands, that inspire you and influence your work, and explain why:
SAMSARA: Charlie (Lead Guitar): Three most influential artists/bands for me: Radiohead, the the way they think about music is really unique and results in very good and interesting albums, not to mention how they jump between musical ideas, for example The Bends and Kid A are two wildly different sounds but it still feels like it’s the same band somehow and they are both such good projects. Archy Marshall, this one is clear for me to include especially as someone who makes rock music and also does production in other genres like hip hop, Archy Marshall manages to be otherworldly at it all. From his biggest project King Krule to Edgar the Beatmaker, to his work under his own name, it’s all done with so much taste and you can hear his talent in everything he does. Love it all, my favorite song by him is Logos please listen to it, the chord changes are brain tickling. Kenny Beats, who also happens to be a Berklee alumni, where I am attending college now, is included because of many reasons. One being that the way he incorporates live instruments into his production. Another reason being his production being so damn good, (check out FM! by him and Vince Staples). Lastly, over quarantine he had started doing Twitch livestreams along with having a discord community, which not only vastly improved my production but also made me very inspired to keep making music and just having fun with it, so shout out to the Kenny Beats Discord. John (Bass): Black Sabbath is certainly a band that has inspired not just me but also the entire band. Black Sabbath is one of the bands we all mutually enjoy and their music definitely has inspired some of our writing. As a bass player and a metalhead, I’ve always looked up to Cliff Burton from Metallica, and Steve Harris from Iron Maiden.
Ben (Drummer): Led Zeppelin for sure, Nirvana, and Foo Fighters. Led Zeppelin- I mean they are are the gods of rock. They are one of the most intense and melodic bands ever. John Bonham is their drummer and he’s inspired me to play the drums the way I do. Nirvana is just straight up grunge. They are so intense and I love how simple their writing is. The songs are so simple and catchy. I’ve watched so many live performances by them and I find it awesome the they just destroy everything in sight at the end of their shows. I love the Foo Fighters because well Dave Grohl is in the band and he’s also my inspirations. I used to never head bang while performing until I started watching him. Dave Grohl can write whole songs all by himself so the inspired me to do the same. I can play the instruments needed for a song and when I finish a project it’s the coolest thing.
Brendan (Guitar/Bass): One artist that inspires me is Metallica. Metallica was the first band I was ever introduced to, and the first band I ever experienced live. Metallica was the reason I picked up the guitar in the first place and decided to start performing as a part of a band. Although I don’t create metal music with SAMSARA, that same inspiration that I’ve taken from Metallica since I was a child still resonates with me every time I get up on stage. I also take inspiration from Arctic Monkeys and Nirvana, primarily in my songwriting. The beautiful stories told in Arctic Monkeys lyrics combined with the sludgy guitar riffs of Nirvana are something I always look towards for inspiration when writing for SAMSARA. Needless to say, the wild on-stage antics of Kurt Cobain and Alex Turner never fail to amaze me as well.
Dylan (Lead Singer): I would say Catfish and the Bottlemen, Coldplay and King Krule all these bands have helped me become a better songwriter. They are all artists that have impacted me in such a big way and i wouldn’t be where i am today without them.
YMX: You recently released “NEVERMIND“. Can you tell us how that project came about?
SAMSARA: John (Bass): We actually recorded Nevermind in December of 2019, we finically finished up the mixing and mastering in November I believe, and we felt the time was right to finally get some music out for people to listen to.
Charlie (Lead Guitar): Ben wrote most of the song, and I added the bridge. When they were at Dylan’s house, Ben played a demo and Dylan goes, ” Hey, Ho, I can’t let you go” as a joke and it just stuck. There’s also sections that used to be in the song that aren’t there anymore that we are considering beginning back when live shows come back!
Brendan (Guitar/Bass): Out of our entire catalogue, NEVERMIND has definitely had the most interesting journey to get to where it is. NEVERMIND was a song we wrote back in October of 2019, which we would go on to record a few months later in December. After receiving the finished product, we decided to attempt to re-record it during a later studio session in August of 2020. Once receiving that recording back a few weeks later, we were faced with the difficult decision of deciding between the two tracks. After months of debate, we all decided to go with the more distorted and wild track hat we initially recorded in December of 2019. The process of releasing and promoting was strenuous, but we pushed through it and ended up receiving around 7,000 streams on the track.
Ben (Drummer): Ok so basically I was listening to the song Woman by Wolfmother at the time and one of the days I was just messing around on my guitar and if you’ve ever listened to Woman it starts off with this cool guitar part in the beginning and I wanted to recreate that because I really loved it. So I was playing around on my guitar and came up with the beginning line in our song NEVERMIND. After of days have gone by I came up withe foundation for the song, then brought it to the band and then there were a couple changes to it, like the bridge. WE finally agreed to how it sounded and since then its never been changed.
Dylan (Lead Singer): We wrote the song last October and Around last December we went to a studio and recorded but we knew we could play it much better so this summer we went back to the studio and cleaned up some parts.
YMX: How did the pandemic affect your personal music recording experience? Was it easy adjusting to working remotely?
SAMSARA: John (Bass): It was a little weird at first considering social distancing, and not being able to work together face to face, but we were able to get into the studio as long as we took the right precautions. At this point I would say we have adjusted to working remotely.
Brendan (Guitar/Bass): The pandemic forcing us to record all of our songs separately at home made it very difficult to work. It was simply a style of work that we were not familiar with, but still something we would grow to master. Through recording versions our songs “Tell Us Your Name” and “NEVERMIND” from home for social media, with all communications taking place over the phone, we learned a lot about the process of recording audio as well as music/video production.
Charlie (Lead Guitar): Honestly it is pretty rough when it comes to recording and writing music as a band during this pandemic, but I have been making alot of music myself, the amount of songs I have written in the past couple of days is surprising, but that may have to do with me writing music more methodically by myself and having more of a plan. Also my songwriting process is just making track demos in my room, then sending them to the band and we all discuss it and work on it from there.
Ben (Drummer): The pandemic made it hard to be with the band. We couldn’t rehearse at all and it was so hard because we were so used to be constantly rehearsing. It wasn’t that hard adjusting to working remotely. When I had new songs I could just send them it. I always make demos and then just send them the songs and they’ll tell me if its cool or not. haha. Dylan (Lead Singer): Ya i would say so. I like to write by myself most of the time so the pandemic did not affect much of that for me. Of course I lost some inspiration for a while but it came back after i started going outside little by little and seeing the world.
YMX: Professional livestreams seem to be really taking over these days. Is it something you would consider doing?
SAMSARA: Dylan (Lead Singer): We have done a few since the beginning of the pandemic and its not the same as live shows but still good to be performing. Ben (Drummer): We actually did a live stream on our YouTube channel(Samara the band nyc). We did two separate livestreams of us performing our own songs and some covers like 505 by Arctic Monkeys. The livestreams are actually really fun but a lot of work.
Brendan (Guitar/Bass): Professional livestreams are something that we have done multiple times in the past and plan to continue doing. We performed with “The Bridgeside Network”, which is an online network based in Brooklyn that shoots professional live streams of local bands and streams them to Youtube. Then we went on to shoot two of our own professional live streams at a warehouse owned by Charlie. These livestreams gave us the chance to have that same feeling of performing live and provide live performances to our fans, without the risks of spreading the virus. It was extremely helpful with promoting our music and keeping a strong online/social media presence, and it is something we plan on doing in the future.
Charlie (Lead Guitar): We did a professional prerecorded live stream for the Rochester KeyBank Fringe Festival, and we also did a professional live stream with Bridgeside network, but those were the only professional live stream type of thing we did. Also, honestly, I would hope/ expect with the vaccine being rolled out for live music to come back around the Fall of 2021, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking.
John (Bass): Absolutely. Back in July we did a livestream in Brooklyn. It was an awesome experience and definitely something we would love to do again in the future.
YMX: Since pandemic began, online music promotion has become crucial for an artist’s growth. How important is that for you, and are there any strategies you are willing to share with our readers?
SAMSARA: Ben (Drummer): Online promotion is very important right now. Its the only way we can get our music to people. We have to constantly send out our music and remind people about upcoming releases. Posting on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and anything else we are on is very important to us. It has actually been working out really well for our song NEVERMIND. Brendan (Guitar/Bass): Online promotion is one of the most important aspects of being in a band, and it is something we dedicate a very large portion of our time towards doing effectively. We put a lot of work into designing our posts for social media, and we have frequent photoshoots to provide visuals for these posts.
Charlie (Lead Guitar): Since the pandemic began, online music promotion has become crucial for an artist’s growth. How important is that for you, and are there any strategies you are willing to share with our readers? It is very important to me, but I also never know how to do it, I guess just bombarding your followers with content whenever you can is a pretty solid idea. The Brian Jonestown Massacre is doing pretty well with this, they are putting up mini music videos of unreleased songs kind of often and the songs are always so good, and it’s really inspiring to read captions that say things like “written, performed, and recorded today.”
Dylan (Lead Singer): It is very important especially on social media. What i like to do is send messages personality to people and ask them to share and support the song and hopefully if they share someone else will see and share and it becomes like the domino effect.
John (Bass): We have used social media platforms to promote our music online, such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.
YMX: Finally, what are your plans for the future?
SAMSARA: Dylan (Lead Singer): January 16 2021 we have our debut EP coming out and i can’t wait for people to hear it! i think it’s gonna be a big step in the right direction for us so you don’t wanna miss it!
John (Bass): We will be releasing our first EP on January 16th m, which is a huge milestone for us. After that we hope to get another single out and we’ll see what happens from there.
Brendan (Guitar/Bass): We do not have any gigs planned for the future, due to the pandemic, but we do plan on having more professionally recorded live streams. We also have our debut EP, “Paralyzed in Paradise”, set to release on 1/16/21, along with another one of our songs in the process of recording right now.
Ben (Drummer): My plans for the future is basically just to make as much music as possible to just get it out to people. It just feels nice to have people listen to your songs and knowing that people actually like it. Thats what gives me my motivation to make more and more music for the band and even myself. I want people to hear what we can do. It honestly impresses me with some of the new music we’ve been writing and hopefully we will get all of it out to everyone!
Charlie (Lead Guitar): PARALYZED IN PARADISE OUT 1/16/21 STREAM IT AND PRE-SAVE! (and recorded and releasing more music until we are finally able to perform live again)