We sit down with NYC's hottest new band to talk all things musical firsts, from Chris Martin's underwhelming voice to an obsession with The Beach Boys.

NYC-based Been Stellar are unpicking the gritty romance of city life through their swirling instrumentation and chaotic alt-rock. A brainchild of New York’s moody metropolis, the five-piece are making waves in grey cities across the globe. A heavy sonic landscape, that infuses their tracks with hints of indie-rock, nu-metal, and shoegaze, carves a soundscape that captures both the brash euphoria and sheer exhaustion of a city. Chaotically charged with a primal edge, their soundscape percolates a nihilistic hustle and an acute appreciation of the subtleties of their surroundings.


The Big Apple lies at the core of their work. Having established a DIY scene of their own in a city that has, by many metrics, lost its grassroots music scene, they put on their own shows, rent spaces, and collaborate with friends to engineer the world they want to inhabit. Testament to this, the group’s debut album Scream from New York, NY is set for release on the 14th of June—a project aimed at capturing the primal cadence and dizzying dissociation that haunts NYC.


The quintet has served a flavour of the record, releasing three singles earlier this year. The bruised and gritty tracks capture the spirit of a city and its worn-down inhabitants, propelled forward by heavy drum beats and yearning guitar. Been Stellar, made up of Sam Slocum (vocals), Skyler Knapp (guitars), Nando Dale (guitars), Nico Brunstein (bass), and Laila Wayans (drums), are already stealing the show. Sharing stages with The 1975, Fontaines D.C., and Shame, as well as recently signing to Dirty Hit, their success is no surprise. Coming together in an exciting tapestry, their experimentation fuses ‘90s dream pop and interlocking rhythms, taking contemporary inspiration from the south London band scene.


Still new to the game, Been Stellar are set for a dizzying summer, embarking on their UK tour and playing a smattering of festivals across the country. As a group with such a keen emphasis on their surroundings, we sit down with the quintet and talk all things from Chris Martin’s underwhelming voice to an obsession with The Beach Boys.

First song you ever made? 

Nando: The first song I ever made was called ‘Hard Life’. I was about seven years old and didn’t want to do my homework and my mum was yelling at me to do it. I ended up going to the piano and writing my first song ever, which funnily enough was in English instead of Portuguese. The chorus went something like, “Hard life, hard people just in the front. Clearly, I needed some English lessons but I’m proud of it 

First time you fell in love with music? 

Sam: My neighbour’s dad used to drive me to school sometimes in elementary school. One day he played I Get Around by The Beach Boys and I remember asking him to play it over and over. I had never heard anything like their voices. 

First CD or record you owned? 

Laila: The first CD I ever owned was Let Go by Avril Lavigne  

First time you realised you wanted to be an artist? 

Skyler: The first time I realised I wanted to be an artist was hearing Hard To Explain by The Strokes. I think I was in 6th grade. I knew that the feeling of infinity that it gave me was the only thing worth spending time chasing. It made every other life path seem like objective bullshit. 

First gig you went to? 

Nico: The first gig I ever went to was Coldplay at the Home Depot Center (that’s what it was called at the time) in Carson, Ca. I was probably seven or eight years old and it was the only band I listened to because of my mum. I hated it because we were so far away to see anything; it was cold, and honestly, his voice wasn’t that great that night. As a kid going to my first show, the fact that Chris Martin’s voice wasn’t as good live was earth-shattering to me. I still love Coldplay though.  

First time you faced an obstacle in your career? 

Nico: The first big decision we made as a band was considering whether to release an old version of Kids or re-recording it ourselves to do it more justice. This was probably the first time we had to make a major decision between the five of us because the project switched from Sam and Sky’s high school band to something that represented the five of us. We hadn’t released much music back then. This was late 2021 when Covid was starting to come down and we were fresh out of college, so it was a crucial moment for us to make this collective decision in what was the start of our careers. That new recording helped us get So Young’s attention, so it felt like our first problem-solving moment in our careers.  

First instrument you owned? 

Laila: My parents bought me a toy drum when I was a kid, which sparked my initial love of the drums. I’ve been playing ever since and still have that drum today.

First time you felt like giving up? 

Skyler: I’ve never felt like giving up making music, but when the pandemic hit it definitely made me question its role in my life. With no prospect of live performance, music seemed like it was only going to be an online thing which made me kind of depressed. 

First time you felt starstruck? 

Sam: When I was in eighth grade, I went to see Starfucker in Pontiac, MI. I met their bassist Shawn Glassford during the opener, and I was blown away seeing him in person. He was very kind which made me happy. They shouted out my friend because we had to leave early since our parents were picking us up. Good experience 

First time you ticked off a bucket list goal? 

Nando: I think going to the UK for the first time in May of 2022 was a huge bucket list goal for us. We were very aware of the scene happening in south London, around The Windmill pub, so going there was incredible. Also, just feeling like our music could connect to fans from a completely different country gave us the confidence to keep pushing ourselves harder.  

Listen to 'Sweet' now: