Safire is a Progressive Rock band from Portland, Oregon consisting of Steve Killen (Vox and Guitars), Kit Taylor (Keyboards and Backing Vox), Rob Obregon (Bass), Michael Herrman (Guitars) and Erik Storm (Drums). Safire is our latest competition winner from SonicBids and we were delighted when they agreed to complete Feature Artist Interview so that we could share their music with you! Read the full interview below to find out, amongst other things, who inspires them musically, what they’re currently working on and why Portland is the Nashville of the NW. Also make sure you check out some of their live videos through this article!
Q: If you could classify your music in a genre or a number of genres what would it be?
It’s a mix of lots of styles, but predominantly Alt Country, Progressive Rock with a little Jazz and Fusion thrown in.
Q: If you could use a tagline of less than 20 words to describe your music and who you are what would it be?
Safire- a musical creation team with a unique vision of music composition and performance, determined to pioneer world change through music.
Q: What is your musical background?
All of the members of our band have been playing music their whole lives. Steve Killen, Founder and Composer, has a degree in music composition from Lewis and Clark College. Keyboard/vocalist Kit Taylor met his first band while studying music in College. Members have also been a part of extremely successful bands before this one. The House Of Blues Vegas and Hollywood, Nokia Theater in New York, The Fillmore in San Fran, The Hard Rock Cafe, and The Taco Bell Arena in Boise are just a few venues we’ve played. Artists we’ve worked with or shared the stage with include Lifehouse, The Neville Brothers, Kansas, Hall & Oates, LIVE, and Blessed Union Of Souls. The five members of Safire have a combined 100 years of musical background.
Q: How was 2010 for you?
2010 was very good. Founder Steve Killen completed the debut album, ‘Crashing Tiles’, and then set out to find the right group of musicians to perform, tour on, and believe in the material. We’ve received a considerable amount of press in only a short period of time, and we hope to continue to build momentum. Some notable achievements include a home page feature on Reverb Nation home page, an international interview and photo spread distributed world wide in Barnes and Noble, and 3 nationally syndicated radio features- one of which we appeared with Chevy Chase and Ray Charles Jr.
In addition, founder Steve Killen composed an original score for award winning film, Tapping The Source, and was also part of the editing team for Song Writing For Dummies 2nd edition.
Q: Who inspires you musically?
Anyone who plays music for a living and does it at a high level. This could be huge names like Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Dave Matthews. Or even local guys that are killer players, and bust their ass playing several nights a week to make a living. We are big fans of Rock, Soul, Gospel, Fusion, Acid Jazz, Alt Country. Really… anyone who puts some serious thought into their music could potentially influence us. We have been known to gain inspiration from bands like Wilco yet we try and create soundscapes like Peter Gabriel or Pat Metheny.
Q: Which modern day artists do you look up to?
Steely Dan always tops the list of artists we listen to and admire. Other current artists could include Ryan Adams, Coldplay, Son Volt and again, any band that is playing music, and doing so successfully.
Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?
Any major act with a great sound would be a dream to play with, but I think opening for Steely Dan, Wilco, or the band Dredge would be about the coolest thing ever. To write a song with an artist that we look up to would be incredible as well… Quincy Jones, Sting, Stevie Wonder, T-Bone Burnett… many others.
Q: What songs are on your ipod at the moment?
Cee Lo Green “Bright Lights Bigger City”, Black Keys “Everlasting Light”, Puddle Of Mudd “Psycho”. Ray Charles “You Don’t Know Me”. Michael Jackson, “Smooth Criminal”, Ryan Adams “Crossed Out Name”, Steely Dan “Aja”, Sting “I Was Brought To My Senses”, Tom Petty “Time To Move On”, Son Volt “Driving The View”
Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?
Members of our group write in different ways, but generally one of our members will bring an idea to rehearsal, or it could be a nearly completed song. We’ll work with it as a group, taking input from all angles, until it’s a finished product. This process could be fast, or it could be extremely slow. Our tunes end up having many layers of guitars and keyboards. “Crashing Tiles” has been described by some as guitar orchestral. We have a brilliant production team that helps us with sound fidelity and some arrangement ideas. Keith Sommers and Matt Burnett were a huge part of “Crashing Tiles”
Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?
Both have equal importance! A song with a strong melody and weak lyrics feels incomplete, and vice-versa. In our music, we like to think of lyrics and melody as being different parts of the same appendage. An arm is not nearly as functional without a hand. Lyrics and melody combine to articulate themes and ideas with the purpose of gaining emotional reactions from the listener.
Q: Where are you based?
Based out of Portland, OR. Our beautiful rainy town… Perfectly imperfect!
Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?
It’s great and very challenging. Portland is incredibly saturated with musical talent, possibly more than the rest of the country realizes. The guy down the street from you, working a day job at a construction company, could be an absolutely ridiculous singer or horn player by night. It’s amazing. It definitely inspires you to keep your chops up, and your abilities honed. We like to think of it as the Nashville of the NW.
Q: What are you currently working on?
We are currently pushing our CD release party which will be on June 18th at The Alberta Rose Theatre in Portland, OR. We are very involved with Carpe Articulum Literary Review, which is an internationally distributed magazine by Barnes and Noble in 47 countries. They run a non-profit charity that we are currently raising funds for, through the rest of 2011. We will be featured in a 5 page spread in the latest issue, speaking about our philanthropic work with music.
From there, we are putting together our first semi-national tour, and marketing the hell out of the album. Seeking radio/publication interviews and airplay, blogs, websites, you name it. We are gauging label interest at this point, but primarily working on building our following. We know that labels are looking for a band with an established national fan-base. Also we are gradually putting together the next album. Already have 4-5 tunes almost ready to go. We plan on entering the studio in the early months of 2012.
Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
The highlight would have to be the completion of the album. Founder Steve Killen put blood, sweat, tears, and a whole lot of money into this disc. To actually have the finished product done, and for sale almost everywhere, is like a dream come true. Crashing Tiles is a thoughtful musical discourse which explores many stories and reflections of our human experience of “loss”. It purveys a message of hope amidst our difficult and sometimes tragic circumstances in our relationships, careers and spiritual paths. I think we are most proud of the lyrical message and the musical arrangements.
Q: What are you hoping to achieve in 2011?
National tour, opening slot for a major name, possibly a major festival, moderate label interest, but most of all to spread our sound to as many sets of ears as possible. Anything that doesn’t happen in 2011 will happen in 2012. We are unified in our philosophy, and we won’t stop until we succeed. Music is our vision quest.
Q: Do you have any gigs or shows that you’d like to tell us about?
Yes, mainly our CD release party in Portland, OR at The Alberta Rose Theatre on 6/18. Tickets are available on the venues website http://www.albertarosetheatre.com, and 50 percent of proceeds go to the The City of Asylum Program (a non-profit run by Carpe Articulum Literary Review) We’ll be using that show as a springboard to the next level of Safire’s career.
Q: What do you do to relax?
Members do different things. All of us write music to relax, Kit loves animals. Steve hangs out with his Border Collie at local parks. We all like to kick it with our group of talented friends at bbq’s, jam sessions, and of course local pubs. All of us dig funny movies and TV shows. All of us also enjoy thinking about music, at all times and in all places.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?
We’re honored to be a part of this interview, and hope the readers give us a listen and like what they hear. Please support your local music scene wherever you are. There are unrecognized talents everywhere. Go out and find them! Join their fan lists! and show them that their hard work does in fact bring joy to this world… that their melodies and storytelling can improve our living conditions and bringing awareness to all walks of life. Love to you all!!
Editor’s Note: At Song Revelation we believe that Safire have a winning formula of innovative song composition, profound lyrical content and incredible vocals. We’re sure that their love of and talent for music will mean they’re around for a long time and will enjoy continued success.
If you’d like to learn more about or contact Safire, just follow the links below:
twitter link: www.twitter.com/safireband
facebook link: www.facebook.com/safireband
myspace link: www.myspace.com/safiremusicgroup
web page link: www.safireband.com
reverbnation link: www.reverbnation.com/safireband
Youtube embeds: www.youtube.com/safirebandpdx