UPDATED What is Brutal by Design?

Syracuse has a rare vibe to it that is often over looked, we are the “all sound city.” We have a range of talented artists across all musical spectrums.

Meet Ian of Brutal by Design.

Give me your philosophy:

I feel most of us get caught up living our lives to retire. In doing so we make life a journey with a goal to reach some end point, success or whatever it is or heaven after you are dead. But we are missing the point. Life is a musical thing you’re supposed to sing and dance while it’s being played. It is essential for me to stay in the moment and live for what’s happening not what has happened or is to come.

Bands you’re working with?

I like to think I’m working for and with the entire Syracuse music scene. I do my best to help bridge the gap for anyone I cross paths with. Any friendship or business relationship I build I try to extend to anyone who is out here grinding to build up the Syracuse area. I work very closely with The Spring Street Family as their manager and booking agent. Emanuel Washington, Timothy J & The Spring Street Family are 3 artists that I have more of a “formal” relationship with. But for the most part I unofficially work with anyone who reaches out and needs help with design work, screen printing, general industry advice, booking help, etc. We have done merch orders for Baked Potatoes, Big Sexy & the Scrambled Eggs, The Spring Street Family, Skunk City, Disc Jam Music Festival to name a few.

Upcoming shows:

We have weekly events at both Funk ‘n Waffles in downtown Syracuse every Tuesday from 7pm to midnight & at Maxwells in Hanover Square every Wednesday from 9pm to midnight. Friday May 18th we have Funktional Flow & Swimmer at Funk ‘n Waffles for a co promoted show with Tony Scavone of Disc Jam Music Festival. I helped bridge the gap for local favorite Root Shock to play and represent Syracuse at this year’s Disc Jam in Stephentown, NY!

On May 22nd KMase Productions and Brutal By Design are getting together to expand on their highly successful Storytellers Series with a hip hop twist. City of Syracuse councilman Joe Driscoll will be performing along with Jack Brown of Sophistafunk, Noah Fence of Pine Needle Soul, Signature Soul, Seth Gnostic, Tallbucks and maybe a couple surprises!

May 29th we have Marah in the Mainsail coming out to Funk ‘n Waffles all the way from Minnesota to do a show with the newly formed Bendetti Band (Ryan Vendetti, Ben Blujus, Emanuel Washington, Brendan Gosson & Blake Probst).

Also, we have 1 of 2 overnight camping music festivals at Karl’s in Oswego NY. The first will be a Summer Solstice Celebration on June 23rd and August 25th will be A Controlled Accident 2 which was the event that really got the ball rolling for the Brutal By Design movement.

I have a weekly Brutal by Design summer series on Thursdays June-September at Jake’s Grub & Grog in Central Square.



My wife & children for holding me down and understanding how often I have to be on my phone or laptop for work related reasons. And even more so my wife (artist) Kara Wolfe for all the behind the scenes work she does that keeps this thing going. None of this is possible without her skills and strength.

Alan Watts is a personal hero of mine and I strive to put his philosophy into my daily practice. Tupac, Jim Morrison, John Lennon, Suge Knight, Jimmy Lovine, Zack de la Rocha are some other major influences that come to mind when I reflect on the path I’ve taken in life. I would be kidding myself if I didn’t give big love to Tommy Ryan, Chris James and the entire Sterling Stage family for giving me a chance and support when I had little to no booking experience to put together the first Controlled Accident. The Spring Street Family boys, Emanuel Washington, Timothy J, Tallbucks, DJ Geda, Moe Michnick, Kris Day, Destynee Raines, JD Patch, BS & SE, Bess Greenberg, Astro Collective, Bendetti Band & BSG are all artists I consider part of the Brutal family who keep me motivated to keep pushing based on all the time and effort they put in and I feel they deserve someone to put that same effort into them. Last but not least my biggest daily inspiration is Charley Orlando who has humbly took me under his wing and provided knowledge & opportunity for me and for that I feel incredibly blessed. Thank you for everything brother!

Artists/photographers/venues you work with?

Dan Sterling is the official Brutal By Design photographer, he captures the moment in a way I find to be unique to his art form and truly love the human being he is and am so blessed to have him on the team. Photographer Derek Jones introduced me to him and has been an important piece from a creative stand as well as photo coverage starting with A Controlled Accident. Without his help in the early stages we would not have grown as rapidly as we have. Also, a big part of what I try to do at my events is add visual art to the music performance. I think it’s important to create an atmosphere that feeds off the music on stage and what better way than to have someone live paint to the vibes.  Kara Wolfe is an incredible visual artist who has handled the live painting aspect for the majority of Brutal by Design events. You can check her out on social media @wolfedenstudio. Another artist I’ve known for a long time and work with is Fletch Crangle. As I mentioned The Spring Street Family boys, Emanuel Washington, Timothy J, Tallbucks, DJ Geda, Moe Michnick, Kris Day, Destynee Raines, JD Patch, BS & SE, Moe Michnick, Astro Collective, Bendetti Band, Late Earth, BSG and Barroom Philosophers are all artists I consider part of the Brutal family. Dave Koegel, of Barroom Philosophers, was the first to wear a Brutal face shirt on stage! I also try my best to help anyone who reaches out that is not listed above.

Anything else you want the world to know?

Syracuse has a rare vibe to it that is often over looked, we are the “all sound city.” We have a range of talented artists across all musical spectrums. I’ve had the pleasure of working with so many of these artists that it continues to amaze me that I continue to discover more talent each day in this city.



photos by Azure Eyes Photography

About Misse Thomas 70 Articles
Photographer, Promoter, Contributor

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.