The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Faculty Artist Spotlight: Mechanical Engineering Professor Alex Brown releases alternative rock EP

Professor Alex Brown and collaborator Ben Cato released debut alternative rock EP “Fake It ‘Til You Fake It Better.” (Photo by Rob Dixon)

When Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Alex Brown is not teaching a class on dynamics and control theory, he can be found singing and playing the guitar, bass and keyboard. His musical duo Imposters in Rome, which also includes Atlanta-based musician Ben Cato, released their first studio EP, “Fake It ‘Til You Fake It Better” on Aug. 26, 2022.

According to Brown, the “vaguely alternative rock” album drew inspiration from the Counting Crows, Third Eye Blind, Sunny Day Real Estate, Pinegrove, Inkwell and the Get Up Kids.

The name Imposters in Rome is a play on the term imposter syndrome.

“Imposter syndrome is a kind of intrusive feeling that you don’t really know what you’re doing, you don’t belong where you are and you shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing,” Brown said.

Brown has experienced imposter syndrome in both his passion for music and his career in academia.

“That happens to people even if they’re very prepared, and even if they have the credentials and they put in the work. And that’s something that happens to us professors. We feel that way more often than you would think,” Brown said. “In our conversations about writing and life, we decided that that name was fitting because it kind of represented a key emotional intersection between the world of music and the world of academia.”

The theme of imposter syndrome was key to the aesthetic of their merchandise and website, both of which include an 8-bit game featuring avatars of Brown and Cato.

An 8-bit aesthetic, symbolic of imposter syndrome, is present on the EP’s album art. (Photo courtesy Imposters in Rome)

“If you think about what imposter syndrome is, it’s … fear of being perceived one way and being a different way. And so if you think about the 8-bit character, it’s a super rough approximation of the person, but it’s identifiable as the person,” Brown explained.

While working the album, Brown found that his engineering training impacted the way he viewed his writing process.

“When I was young, I thought that writing music was some kind of special or mystical process,” he said. “But being trained as an engineer and teaching engineering has taught me a lot about planning and organization. And it’s taught me a lot about how you can respect the ruleset that you have to work in.”

Similarly, Brown’s experience in music has broadened his viewpoint as an engineer and academic. “People associate music with creativity … in a different way than they associate engineering with creativity,” he said. “[Playing music] allowed me to be more creative as an engineer and as a researcher.”

While Brown does not research music at Lafayette, his appreciation of interdisciplinary interests led him to the college.

“That’s something [about] Lafayette as a liberal arts institution … we’re looking for commonalities between things. We’re not looking for siloed knowledge,” Brown said. “I’ve always been somebody with diverse interests, and ending up at a liberal arts school kind of makes sense for somebody like that.”

Brown believes that allowing oneself to explore different interests ultimately improves one’s abilities.

“I think broadening our perspective can only help us do the things that we love better,” he said.

“Fake It ‘Til You Fake It Better” is available on Apple Music and Spotify.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Isabella Gaglione
Isabella Gaglione, Culture Editor
Isabella Gaglione (she/her) is a junior English and Film & Media Studies double major from Long Island, New York. The Lafayette's resident Taylor Swift Reporter. 

Comments (0)

If you wish for your response to an article to be submitted as a letter to the editor, please email [email protected].
All Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *