Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Imitator

Photo courtesy of Imitator Facebook page.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

Speechless – they are without speech.

Although their music is devoid of any lyrics, Imitator still knows how to bring the energy, as the Long Island, N.Y.-based instrumental prog-rock outfit are set to drop their anticipated debut EP ‘Principles’ on Aug. 27, 2021, on the strength of their singles “Correspondence” and “Polarity.”

Composed at the core of Covid-related lockdowns, ‘Principles’ was recorded in Spring 2021 at VuDu Studios, with the help of engineers Mike Watts and Frank Mitaritonna.

The Music Bugle had the opportunity to talk with members Antonio Gabriele and Peter Koronios about ‘Principles’ and more.

Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?

Peter Koronios – Everything. The tones, the time signatures, the freedom of composition. It’s an adventure putting these songs together because we are beholden to no real expectations. That’s how most bands feel when they start out, I think. We have the most fun when a song builds to something and so, the dynamic nature of this style of music is very exciting for us. It’s just fun to get loud.

Music Bugle – What is the biggest challenge in being an instrumental group?

Antonio Gabriele – I would say it is finding the appropriate space for everyone in any given song. We don’t shy away from the notion that we’re guitar-forward, but that’s only possible because the drumming and bass playing set up a sonic armature in which the guitars fit comfortably in. Anyone can learn to play drums or bass, but to understand that spatial importance? That’s an art form in and of itself and our drummer and bassist are virtuosic at balancing the need for structure, but also highlighting their own playing.

Music Bugle – How did you decide the band name?

Antonio Gabriele – I think “Imitator” can mean anything to anyone. We have our own collective philosophy behind the name, but we each ascribe additional values to it. Everything is wholly unoriginal and there is nothing new under the sun. We are the sum of our influences, but don’t confuse imitation with plagiarism – we are also wholly original. We just understand that we are taking bits and pieces of things that inspired us and transmuted it in our own image.

Music Bugle – What was your goal for your single “Correspondence”?

Peter Koronios – To finish writing a full song together. It’s the first full song we wrote as a band and you can hear us learning to pull back and allow each other room, as well as learning when to step forward and contribute our voices to the musical conversation.

Antonio Gabriele – We all came together with a lot of other music / band experiences as baggage, so starting over is both cathartic and a learning experience. Once we finished this, we felt we could do it again and better.

Music Bugle – What was it like putting together your debut EP ‘Principles’?

Antonio Gabriele – Challenging, but exciting. It was a unique situation in terms of writing remotely and documenting it via random forms of media – iPhone videos, voice-to-text and sometimes, calling my personal phone from my work phone and leaving a sound byte in a voicemail. At the same time, it was exciting because though the whole world is stopping around you, here we are finding a way to create something together.

Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Antonio Gabriele – I think we would consider ourselves rather fortunate. We all have our health and despite it consistently looming over us at all times, we really didn’t waver in terms of what we set out to do together. If anything, it inspired us to continue the path of writing, working together and planning our next steps as a group. It amplified our accomplishments, as we understood that normal bands don’t start off this way, you know? 

Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?

Peter Koronios – Faran Ensemble, Ludovico Einaudi, Erra, Michael Hedges, Loreena McKennitt, Djivan Gasparyan and Pharaoh Sanders.

Antonio Gabriele – This is always the hardest question, as I’m a creature of habit and generally retreat into 1990’s nostalgia. I love mid-nineties grunge, but that’s a boring answer. The fun answer is that I have a real affinity for new synth-wave bands, so I have been listening to the neon-drenched sounds of Gunship and The Midnight. Outside of that, I’ve re-sank into The Sword, Closure in Moscow, Karnivool and Violent Joy.

Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?

Antonio Gabriele – I’ll let you know when I am able to take one! The breaks right now come in small doses and it’s usually just a long walk with my fiancée and our dog. COVID has turned the world upside down, so the opportunity to walk around our home area and get some fresh air is taken any chance we get.

Peter Koronios – My bookshelves. Usually, also somewhere in nature – a trail, the water.

Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?

Peter Korosios – The litany against fear in Frank Herbert’s Dune series. Google it. Very apropo for right now. Always important for perspective.

Antonio Gabriele – “The illiterate of the twenty-first century will not be those that cannot read or write, but those that cannot learn, unlearn and relearn,” by Alvin Toffler. That quote got me through graduate school and pushed me to push my students when I was an architecture professor. Now, I use it as a life mantra to better myself and I’m readapting it to how I personally approach music. It’s a great metaphor for working in a group or team, as those situations foster incredible opportunities to learn and improve yourself.

Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?

Antonio Gabriele – I personally hate social media. It has devolved into something incredibly divisive. We certainly understand it as a necessary evil in our field, but it only actually offers a distorted sense of reality and routinely forces creators – art, music, etc. – to contort themselves to fit a standard determined by others. I think it has the potential to open doors that might have been invisible before, but will almost certainly hurt more musicians than it helps. If your purpose is to produce something for the instant gratification of strangers, then the art will always be compromised.

Peter Koronios – I largely agree with Antonio. Like everything else, it depends on how it’s utilized – in what spirit. If you’re driving yourself crazy putting all of your sense of the project’s, or your own self-worth into what is ultimately an algorithm game, I think it’s going to hurt you mentally. If you’re not putting the cart before the horse by stressing over aesthetics and followers, etc., then, I think it can help in a big way with networking and finding other artists. After all, one of the reasons I started playing music was because it was such an incredible experience listening to it.

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