Sitting in the Lyric Diner on 3rd Avenue, Peter Panousopoulos sits looking over the menu pondering what to take for lunch, all while eating Birthday Cake Italian ice from Ralph’s. What may seem as backwards, dessert before the meal that is, it is a true example of his endearing personality: never be conventional. The 19-year-old Filipino and Greek musician-turned-basketball player-turned back musician is one of admiration. Before even deciding on burger and fries, he is already ready to discuss his vast musical knowledge, the type that would cause the unambitious to cringe in fear. Yet, that ambition is far from pretentious; his easygoing smile and nature works like a domino effect for anyone who surrounds him.
Since he was eight years old, Panousopoulos has been involved in music. He began playing the piano then began taking up the guitar two years later. He is the type of person who is naturally musically inclined, being able to point out almost any instrument in the music he hears. “I kind of have this obsession with sound,” he says.
That obsession is very much taken care of: he has three guitars and a Cord M50 Digital Audio Workstation keyboard, which allows him to make use of sounds beyond the basic keyboard, such as drums. To test himself, he listens to a song once then plays it from memory. “I don’t just listen to the lyrics of songs,” he says. “I listen to the repeating beat.”
He grew up listening to Spanish music and rock, which are still his favorite music genres to listen to. Linkin Park, The Starting Line, Blink 182, and Don Omar are just a few of his favorite artists. When it comes to rap music, it’s impossible for him to single out a favorite artist. “Maybe if you give me a top 20, I could work with you,” he laughs. Yet, just as he can listen to rock, Spanish, and rap, he can as easily listen to pop and R&B. When Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” comes on in the diner, he starts humming and singing every line without fault.
His love for music has not always been smooth sailing, however. When Panousopoulos entered high school, he had to make a choice between the school band or school athletics, which the school was known for. “It was a no brainer,” he says. “We didn’t really have much of a music program at our school.”
So for sometime, Panousopoulos gave up music for basketball and soccer. He continued playing basketball into his first year of college at Baruch, where he is now a sophomore. But during his first season, he injured his knee, switching his focus back completely on music.
During his senior year in high school, he started professionally DJ’ing, which he still does once a week to this day. In the past four months, he has performed four times, most recently at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, where he played the guitar and sang. When it comes to releasing his own music, he has not come out with a CD or EP yet, but he works continuously to become a better musician. “I make every single aspect of my music,” he says confidently.
His knowledge of instruments is heard when he plays the guitar. The notes flow right into one another with ease, and his confidence with it radiates. Rather he becomes a famous musician, or music stays as his personal niche, he will always make beautiful music.
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While he is becoming more and more comfortable with singing, his passion remains with the guitar and the piano. For more than ten years he has perfected his skill with these instruments, and he only plans to get better.
In the future, he doesn’t know where life will take him, but he wants to have options. “I want to go to Greece or the Philippines. I might DJ full time. I really would like to get an apprenticeship with a music CEO.” Nonetheless, he knows music will always be apart of his life. “It’s apart of who I am, “ Panousopoulos says with a light smile. His passion is apparent, and wherever he ends up in the music genre, it will be because his ambition to master the musical art form got him there.