by Christian McCarville
Having been approximately a year since COVID-19 changed the lives of many, live music seems like a distant memory from the past. Rider graduate Alex Murphy is working hard to bring back the spirit of live music in a safe setting.
Murphy graduated from Rider in spring 2020 with a degree in biology. He was very involved on campus — he cofounded the Rider Pep Band, conducted research alongside his biology professors and was a brother of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.
In his last semester, Murphy had the urge to create and record music.
“During my last semester at home, I really wanted to sit down and record something,” said Murphy. “I wanted to make something that I could put on streaming services.”
Murphy began recording and releasing music under the name AM Reflection. He explained that this name represents how he writes in his music.
“I think about my past a lot in my writing, and I try to be better for the future,” said Murphy.
This solo project soon became a collaborative effort as Murphy realized that he wanted to play his music live. He began to reach out to fellow musicians to make this dream into a reality.
“I picked a group of people that I met throughout Rider,” said Murphy. “All of them still go to Rider or are graduates of Rider. I said ‘Hey let’s form a band, let’s make AM Reflection a band.’”
AM Reflection gained five additional members: junior environmental science major Ben Woodward, junior popular music studies major Trevor Sullivan, sophomore computer science major Tyler Duell and graduate students Joe Lisowski and Ethan Lane.
“I had previously worked with Alex at the songwriter’s cabaret last March and thought the band idea was a cool gig,” said Woodward. “We started meeting once a week to practice on weekends or when we all had time. And after a month or two we were starting to build and shape our sound as a group.”
Woodward plays tenor saxophone and is one of AM Reflection’s three vocalists. He learned a lot from his time with the band and is grateful to have this opportunity.
“My biggest takeaway from AM Reflection was to be myself and make time for things that I am passionate about,” said Woodward. “Alex got me out of my comfort zone and I appreciate him asking me to join when he did.”
Murphy also explained that the band is very careful when it comes to COVID-19 precautions. Band members get tested often and rehearse once a week in an open space.
AM Reflection has recently announced that it will host a prerecorded virtual music festival for themselves and other local artists to perform in. The festival, titled Broken Mirror Festival, will be livestreamed on March 19 on the AM Reflection YouTube channel.
“It’s called Broken Mirror because we’re breaking through the limitations that we faced in the past and now we’re trying to reach new heights,” said Murphy.
The festival’s name is also a reference to the band’s first extended play titled “Mirror.” The prerecorded show is designed to give exposure and recognition to talented local artists.
“We got together nine other performers from New Jersey,” said Murphy. “We wanted to give ourselves a performance but we wanted to also give an opportunity to showcase the other local artists.”
The performance was prerecorded at a venue in Princeton over two days. Each performance was given a time slot so that there were not a large number of individuals in the same location at once. Microphone caps were used and equipment was heavily sanitized to take precaution against COVID-19. Artists were also asked to get tested beforehand.
“Everyone involved, all of the 10 groups including us, basically no one sounds the same,” said Murphy. “There are a lot of diverse genres involved in the show.”
Audiences also can donate to any act that they particularly enjoy.
“They have the option to Venmo the AM Reflection account and 100% of those donations will go to whatever artist that they want,” said Murphy.
The Broken Mirror Festival is an excellent opportunity for both audiences and performers, bringing back the thrill of live music while contributing to the rise of local talent.
What first began as a solo project has now evolved into a multitalented band that is contributing to the resurgence of local live music. AM Reflection is certainly a band to keep an eye on, representing the diverse talent of the Rider community.
Published in the 03/10/21 issue of The Rider News