We met Alejandro along to Noah in New York City, busking in a Subway station. What stood out to other busking bands, Alejandro smiled at every person walking by. I asked for a conversation and I can’t express how much sympathy I have for Alejandro and Noah.
Please find the second part of the Arcane Insignia interview below:
Hi Alejandro, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. How are you today and would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?
Pleasure’s all mine guys! People call me Alejandro (a variation of my middle name Alexander mixed with my Hispanic heritage), I’m the Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist/Pe
Together, you and an additional violinist perform as the The Arcane Insignia. Can each of you remember the first memory in your life that is connected to music?
Well I would say there’s a different “first” memory to each stage in my life. Growing up in Colombia I was surrounded by Salsa, Vallenato, Cumbia & Merengue, and it took until my late 20’s to develop a sincere appreciation for these styles since during my childhood it was inescapable. But now as an adult (and in retrospect) I can look upon them with a more open mind. Salsa is a lot of fun for example! But the first Songs that I remember loving out of my own volition were probably video game Soundtracks, from Castlevania Music to King of Fighters. These Soundtracks were brilliant at evoking an accompanying emotion to storylines that helped me escape the circumstances of a difficult upbringing. Yet it wasn’t until I started discovering Rock and Metal in my early teenagehood that things took a serious turn. Bands like Oasis, Incubus, and Deftones became more than an escape mechanism. They became a Sountrack to life. Close friends rather than unreachable ideals. One of my earliest memories is hearing “Slide Away” from Oasis and that being one of the earliest moments where I recall crying of joy instead of sadness.
Would you consider performing blindfolded Alejandro?
We have some pictures of me blindfolded on our Facebook page as I was the first one to try it. I had the idea last year and felt that although it’s a lot of fun and visually appealing, I wanted it to have a purpose, a genuine reason rather than just being something cool to look at. I decided it would suit Noah better as it fits his introverted personality and grants him a freedom that I’ve rarely felt from him. As the Frontman, I enjoy making eye contact and being a bit more vocal about promoting the band and networking, while giving Noah the space for him to shine in a safe environment away from outside stimuli and allowing him to connect more intimately to the Music. Also, somebody has to look after our stuff!
Sometimes, people can find you busking in New York City. Does busking feel different to performing other concerts?
For some reason the term “busking” seems to carry a negative connotation of beggar in some circles, which is upsetting. We greatly appreciate any donation made to the band as it all goes to our band fund to support our recordings and the like, but we don’t perform in public for that reason. We perform at train stations, parks and other public venues as a way to promote our project, the arts and provide a captivating atmosphere in the middle of the bleakness of New York City. It can have a lot of colorful people, but the shades of gray can be overwhelming at times, which is one of the main things that differentiates performing at a venue versus performing in public places. Most of us go to a concert with an idea of going to see a band play, having a few drinks and having a good time, so most people come with a predetermined mindset to the venue whereas in public nobody is expecting us there and as such we see people exactly as they are in that moment, whether that be happy, lonely, cold, scared, pissed or anything else. A few times we’ve had homeless people leaving us a dollar, and when I try to say thank you to them they respond “no…thank you“. You really cannot put a price on an experience like that.
The mission of our website is bringing people together with the power of music and letting them share a story to a song that helped them through a tough time. Is there a specific song that helped you and would you mind sharing the story?
Even though there’s been many Songs that have marked a before & after in my life, the first Song that came to mind is “Parabol/Parabola” by Tool. I remember being 15 or so, homeless in my country around the anniversary since my Father was killed, and when it was freezing outside and I hadn’t eaten anything for 3 days, hearing “this body holding me, makes me eternal, all this pain is an illusion” literally saved my life. It gave me a purpose, a meaning, a path. It was around this time that I discovered I’ve been a Musician long before I was born, and I will continue long after I die. For many years I thought (and tried multiple times) to end my own life, went down a spiral of substance abuse and hospitals, and then this Song showed me that there’s something much bigger than my limited perspective out there. It helped me realize that I wasn’t here to be the protagonist of my own movie, but to be the Soundtrack to others’. It showed me that I don’t make Music. Music makes me. And that still remains one of the most compassionate and beautiful gifts Music has ever offered me.
In your opinion, what makes music unique? What is the difference to other artistic expressions?
What differentiates it from all other forms of art is that Music can be both a complimentary part of all other forms of art (you watch a movie or TV show and there’s Music, go to a Museum and there’s Music, Theater has Music & even the culinary arts are beset by sizzling sounds and vibrations of all kinds) along with being a self existing art form. But I would also say Music goes beyond being just an artistic expression. Religion uses it. Politics use it. Animals use it. Even silence — the opposite of Music — is an integral part of Music. From a scientific perspective, everything is labeled as vibrations. All life is vibrations. And if Music is comprised of nothing but vibrations as an expression of existence, then that means everything is Music.
People tend to say that music saved their life. Do you think music itself has the power to influence or even save someone or does it need more?
In Buddhism we believe that the right teacher appears only once the student is ready to learn. In order for Music to truly expose itself fully and allow its audience to fully grasp it, the listener at hand needs to be in the right and most receptive state. It needs to be the right moment and the right circumstances. But the beauty of Music is its infinite qualities. With so much diversity and variety out there, there is a Song for each moment of life and many more (and if you feel the perfect sound is missing, then go and do it yourself! The world is your oyster my friends), making Music a self standing force. And I believe that the perfect balance of both hypnotizing & grounding characteristics make Music a healing force capable of both explaining life as well as expanding it without needing anything else to help it deliver its message.
Is there anything you’d like to say to people who are struggling at the moment?
Take your time. Don’t be afraid of expressing how you feel and who you are. Life is too beautiful to allow temporary circumstances to leave permanent scars on us. We’ve all survived 100% of the worst days of our lives, which means we’re doing pretty damn good! There’s been many times when people have asked me “how can you forgive something like that?” and I always answer “because I’ve been forgiven when I felt I didn’t deserve it”. If the world is dark, be the light in the midst of it. If the world is cold, be the warmth you’re looking for. Why should you take the first step? Because you’re the only one that can. Nobody else is you, and nobody deserves your love and compassion more than you. If you don’t, who will?
All we have left to say is a big Thank You to Alejandro and Noah! We would love for you to check out The Arcane Insignia on Facebook, Twitter and please listen to them on Soundcloud! Their debut Album “A Flawed Design” is about to be released in Spring 2017.