meet the brooklyn botb winners: anahata

August 5, 2019
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On Friday, August 9th, five acts will perform at the AFROPUNK Brooklyn Battle of the Bands Finals, at the Knitting Factory in Williamsburg.

The Grand Prize is the chance to join the star-studded, line-up of AFROPUNK Brooklyn 2019 at Commodore Barry Park on August 24th-25th. But the Battle of the Bands is not only an opportunity for a big break most musicians seek in their careers, it is also an occasion for the bands to showcase their music, their creative spirit and their artistry to the AFROPUNK audience. So this week, we’re spotlighting all five finalists, asking them questions about who they are and what this moment means to them.

First up is Anahata, a heavy-ass trio from right here in New York City, continuing the Black hardcore tradition in all its glory.

What is you name, your age, and the instrument that you play?

Christopher Leyba, 29, vocals. Marvin Thompson, 24, guitar and sing.  Chris Caressimo, 22, drums.

Where are you from?

CL: Jamaica, Queens

MT: I was born and raised in South Jamaica Queens — South Ozone Park, to be specific — a New York baby through and through.

CC: I am from Franklin Square, New York.

What are your favorite things about where you are from? (Especially when it comes to Black culture of where you are from.)

CL: Festivals supporting Black Culture, and, in the community that we are a part of, going to local shows, getting to know people and being supportive of so many bands. There are so many walks of life coming together for music and it’s as if there had never been any barriers before we got here.

MT: The culture and the people. It seems like a short answer but honestly it’s so much more than that. I come from a large mixed Caribbean family and got the unique chance to grow up in one of the most diverse boroughs in New York. That came with food and block parties, different types of music, from hip-hop to R&B, Haitian music to rock music, blasting from literally everywhere; There’s too many life lessons or street lessons or family lessons to list here. I love my friends, I love my local music scene, I love New York’s art and how unexpected things are here.

CC: The best part about where I’m from is that I’m surrounded by multicultural and diverse neighborhoods that bleed into my town. I also live a short distance from Queens and Brooklyn which allows me to see my friends often.

Christopher Leyba of Anahata, backstage at Battle of the Bands Brooklyn 2019.

In your own words, give us a short description of the kind of music you make.

CL: I like to write a mixture of many things, almost without recognizing where they came from sometimes, but our style mixes in some metalcore, post-hardcore and rock elements.

MT: Anahata’s music is incredibly intense, but deeply emotional. Not only are the songs fun and energetic, but they are very personal, because our music has helped us get through some incredibly bad times. The music that we make, to me, focuses on capturing those confusing, sad, angry or fucked up emotions that are bottled up, and gives them a bridge to exist in a way that is explosive — and ultimately positive. We all love so many genres, but mainly metal/rock/hardcore bands. We’re influenced by so many heavy bands, so naturally the music we make reflects that blend.

CC: Anahata’s sound was developed by expressing past traumas and life events. It’s about being able to share and find light in this dark and unforgiving world. To place it in a genre, I would say we are a melodic post-hardcore/metalcore band.

If there was one or two core thoughts or ideas that you want your music to convey, what are they?

CL: Two thoughts I would say is that it’s okay to be vulnerable, and don’t let anyone tear down your spirit for their own personal gain.

CC: No matter what kind of challenge or difficult situation, whether you just lost a loved one, ended a long bad relationship, or you feel completely lost and afraid, there will always be at least one other person that will understand what you are going through. Just so you don’t feel alone.

MT: I want our music to make people feel okay to feel again. I don’t think we express ourselves enough, I don’t think we take care of ourselves enough, I don’t think we take care of each other enough, and I don’t think we spread enough love or know how to. I don’t think that people are cold, although they can be, but at the same time I don’t think we know what it means to be there for people who are going through things, or to really understand how they feel, or how WE feel individually. It is absolutely okay to be sad. It is absolutely okay to be angry, or confused, or to not know what to do sometimes. We kill people by not addressing mental or emotional health, and I think we’re killing people by not listening. Even if metal isn’t your thing, or our music scares the shit out of you, I’ll take it. Also, I want people to finally get used to Black people in extreme metal genres, because, no, it isn’t new. We’ve been here, and we are here, and if you look like me it is okay to like whatever you want. It is okay to do whatever you want. I hope people look at us and feel empowered, and I hope we can encourage some kids to chase this type of music too and not automatically feel weird about it.

What are your musical dreams and aspirations? Not fame-wise, but creatively. What do you think you can do with music?

CL: My goal in my music is to not only fight off my personal demons, but for others that relate, to also use us as a means to vent, let their feelings out, and understand that they aren’t alone, that others are here with open arms. Also just to travel and explore life in a new way

CC: My aspiration as a musician is to inspire people to pursue their dreams and passions, no matter what it is. I want to be able to give people the power to be the best they can possibly be.

MT: I will always think that we are the luckiest guys on earth for growing up in New York where we get to be surrounded by the type of scene we’ve come up with. There are so many amazingly talented people around us and touring bands that we’ve met in this crazy genre we play, and I think it’s really cool that as we push, we get to represent them in a way. I want to push heavy music as far as it can go, and then beyond that. Maybe one day we can become someone’s gateway band and open them up to an entire scene of incredibly talented people that deserve a bigger spotlight. Heavy music is flourishing, and I want our music to help it grow and change and inspire people.

Name one artist that you would like to collaborate with? What do you think that collaboration would sound like?

CL: I would love to collaborate with Brandon Urie of Panic! At the Disco, I think it would have a tasty pop vibe and I think it would sound awesome.

CC: One artist I would love to collaborate with is Gojira, I’ve been in love with their sound and style since I was 14 years old, the [age] when music really started altering my life in a good way. I believe our sounds would compliment each other very well. They could give Anahata a more mature and progressive sound, while in exchange, we’d give Gojira more of a high-energy vibe.

MT: Questions like these are so tough. I really love Japanese music, and I want to collab with Maximum the Hormone. I’m imagining it right now and I’m sure that collab would sound like the most intense gauntlet ever. They’re just an incredibly fun band and it would be crazy to be in the same room with them. Oh, and Tyler the Creator. We’re on different musical planets, but his insight and his thought process would help anybody. I think he’s a genius.

(L-R): Anahata’s Marvin Thompson, Chris Caressimo and Christopher Leyba, with Battle of the Bands master of ceremonies Gitoo, after they won the semi-final.

What are you most looking forward to if you win the Battle of the Bands? What do you think winning could do for you?

CL: As far as winning, it would bring us to a new level and more people would be learning about us and we can take that win and move forward with it as an experience to get us to equal tier opportunities, play more and grow more. Winning would definitely gives us more of a platform to be noticed, in a sea of artists who are all looking for a break and validation, things get difficult when building a fanbase but it definitely would incentivize our growth.

CC: The first thing I’m looking forward to if we win the Battle of the Bands, is to finally be able to play an outdoor festival with the band. It’s hands down our biggest local/small-time dream right now. The second thing I’m looking forward to is sharing the stage with so many different artists and genres. We’ve only played metal and hardcore shows, so being a part of such a huge multi-genre festival is so beautiful to think about. Lastly, I am excited to play for a huge, diverse audience and share our music with a whole new crowd of people.

MT: AFROPUNK has been a dream of ours to play for a very long time. I think it’s one of the coolest festivals ever, and for us, it’s a massive deal to be able to play on that stage. It’s actually one of my life goals to play a festival, so this would be monumental. We’ve been pushing so hard for so long, and we’ve grown so much. It’s as if we’ve been knocking on this door for years, and this time someone’s ready to open it and we’re going to blitz through and show everyone what we are made of. If we win, it’s a milestone. Growth is everything to us, and we want to make our mark on that stage.

Anything else you want to say to the AFROPUNK audience as a way of introduction?

CC: We are just three goofy-ass kids who love to vibe together on stage, while also combining our emotions and energy together to put on an amazing performance for everyone to enjoy and vibe with us. We are very humble and honored for the opportunity to be a part of AFROPUNK.

MT: I can’t wait to meet you all, and we’re going to have a lot of fun together.

CL: Follow our social medias @anahatanyc, and we have an album titled, Abhorrence, and it would mean the world if you checked it out and stick close to us because we’re sticking around!

Follow Anahata on Bandcamp.