Savoy are getting ready to embark on their Wet Bandit Run, which passes through San Francisco on May 11, and Los Angeles on May 12 for the release party for We Are The Sun. The band has been busy working through collaborations and creating new music. Mike Kelly of Savoy recently sat down with Rabbits Black to give a little bit of insight into the band’s mysterious background.
With huge collaborations lined up for the year, a headlining show at Red Rocks, and a continuously growing sound, Savoy are sure to have a huge 2012. Their Wet Bandit Tour hits San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall this Friday, May 11.
Don’t forget to check out Rabbits Black’s exclusive ticket giveaway for your chance to win a pair of tickets to Savoy’s show at Great American Music Hall.
Rabbits Black: Thanks for taking the time to speak with Rabbits Black today. I’m sure your schedules are really busy.
Mike Kelly: Yeah, today we’re in Brooklyn, we’re at home, so it’s doable.
RB: Rabbits Black has been trying to glean some information about Savoy from the internet, and there’s not a lot out there. Is the enigmatic thing something you do on purpose?
MK: We’re not really into the whole bio aspect of things. We’d rather just have the music speak for itself. When people ask us about our background, we’re not hesitant to share, but we try to let the music speak for itself.
RB: Well, thanks for giving Rabbits Black this exclusive interview then! To start from the beginning, how did you, Gray, and Ben meet?
MK: The three of us met in college in Boulder, Colorado.
RB: Rad, you’re actually the second person I’ve talked to who met their band while in college in Boulder.
MK: Who was the other guy?
RB: Gregory Allan Isakov, actually. How long ago did Savoy get started?
MK: It was freshman year, so around 2004. We just kind of randomly found each other and we were all looking to collaborate and make music. We all lived right next to each other and it’s kind of difficult to find a group of people that are serious about putting in the time and making a commitment together, but we were all on the same page and made it happen.
RB: Did Savoy start with the sound it has going now?
MK: No. Our sound and musical tastes are always changing, but they kind of grew together over a period of time. When we started we were actually instrumentalists and in a band, but we always had dance tempos and sound to our music. As we kind of grew our sound, we wanted to make it bigger and louder and make a three-piece band sound like a huge stage production. We started to get computers involved and really started tweaking and going for the sound that we were after.
RB: So you’re the last standing instrumentalist of the live show!
MK: Yeah, in a way. But Ben and Gray still play instruments behind the scenes but not so much on stage. There’s a lot of theory we take from playing instruments that we put into electronic music.
RB: What’s the band’s creative process like behind writing and recording songs?
MK: It’s different every time. We don’t have a strict formula, but there’s three of us so a lot of times we’ll write ideas separately. Gray and I tend to work on ideas together more just because we live together. As we develop the ideas, sometimes they’re almost finished, sometimes we’re stuck, and we give it to the other guy. Ben will give tracks to us, and we’ll give tracks to Ben, and we’ll try to develop it together. Sometimes it’s hard when you’re working on an idea from scratch to really be creative because it takes so much experimentation, so when there’s three people around a computer, it’s not always the most efficient way.
RB: I’m sure you all have noticed that EDM is gaining a lot of mainstream popularity and attention. Has that affected how you approach your music at all? Has it changed anything for you?
MK: No, not really. If anything it has put a lot of pressure on us to really work hard because there are a lot of good producers out there. We don’t really look at it as competition, but in a way it is. We get a lot of ideas from other people, and our style is very unique and has rubbed off on others. There’s a big demand for our sound, for that rocky, live edge to it.
RB: I’ve seen your style described as rock with a party dance edge. How do you define Savoy’s style?
MK: That’s tough. Our style is always changing. We always try to take influences from the rock stage and bring them into the dance club, and vice versa. We grew up listening to rock and playing instruments and there’s so much electronic music out there that bringing a live, raw edge to it makes it stand out and makes Savoy special. I think everyone can relate to our style because a lot of people have those same roots.
RB: So Savoy just played Ultra Festival in Miami and has performed at a few EDCs. How would you compare the two festivals?
MK: Both of them are massive productions. There’s a lot of hype and great artists and a great crowd there to see everyone. They’re both pretty awesome. It’s tough to compare. When you have so many quality artists and such a big production, it really becomes something bigger than itself. I think it’s cool for any artist to play in that type of atmosphere because it’s tough to find that elsewhere.
RB: Do you scale up or down your live production to fit the festival setting?
MK: It depends on the tour. Sometimes we’re traveling with our gear so we’re able to really do it up and combine the production that’s given to us to have with our own stuff. But a lot of times we’ll just ship our lasers in if we’re playing a night set to add that dynamic to what they already have going on, and they usually already have a good set up. If we’re headlining shows, we’ll bring a lot more production. Sometimes if it’s a smaller venue, the lasers are not always practical to bring. It’s difficult because if it’s a small venue, it’s hard to appreciate what the lasers are doing.
RB: Will you be bringing the lasers with you on the Wet Bandit run?
MK: We’re trying to get them, but it’s tough because the venues are pretty small. We don’t want to burn anyone’s eyes out. They are pretty powerful. I’ve seen them burn a hole through a tree before.
RB: So Savoy has a new single, “We Are The Sun”, but will Savoy release a new album soon?
MK: Yeah, we’re working on an EP, and the single is coming out on May 14. We’re really excited about it. I think it is a really good representation of our new sound and the direction we’d like to go in, keeping it dancey, but also a song you could listen to outside of the club. The lyrics by Heather Bright are pretty powerful and unique. It’s really fun working with her, she brings a whole new aspect to our writing process and certainly our performance. She’s a freak on stage to say the least. She demands attention.
RB: Will she be on the Wet Bandit run with you?
MK: I think she’s coming to some of the shows, but we’re still working on that.
RB: Is Savoy working on any other collaborations?
MK: For the “We Are The Sun” release, we released a dubstep remix of our track and Manuel De La Mar did a remix as well, and we’re really excited about it. Laidback Luke did a remix of the song as well that he’s been playing, and that comes out June 11. We have some people remixing our stuff, and we’re remixing other people’s stuff too.
RB: Yeah, the Chromeo remix you just released is really cool. How do you select which songs to remix? Do you approach other artists, or do they approach you?
MK: It depends on the situation. In this case, Chromeo’s brother, A-Trak, contacted us on Twitter and said he was familiar with some of our stuff and he thought it would work well for a Chromeo remix. We gave it a shot. It didn’t necessarily mean they were going to like it, but they seemed pretty excited about it. Dave from Chromeo sent us an email and said he really liked it, so we were able to put it out. I think it helped both of us for sure. We’re also working on a collaboration with SOFI. We’re really excited about the track we did with her, and it should be out soon.
RB: That’s awesome! I love SOFI, she’s done great work with deadmau5. I’m really looking forward to hearing your new track with her.
MK: Yeah, she’s great. I think we’re going to be doing a lot more stuff with her in the future, so it’s cool. She’s really talented, and not a lot of singers know how to synch up with electronic music tonally. It’s not like writing a pop track, it’s a little different. SOFI and Heather definitely have a feel for that and they’re both really good at putting on a good show.
RB: Is Savoy looking to do any work with other Fools Gold artists?
MK: Hopefully this opens the door for more opportunities, but a lot of times those things just come naturally. But we would love to do something else with Fools Gold for sure.
RB: Savoy’s Wet Bandit Run passes through Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, and you have the fall Red Rocks show lined up. Can we expect a full tour as well?
MK: We’ve been doing a lot of three and four day runs, but a full bus tour where we’re on the road for maybe a month or so is still in the works. We’ll probably do that after we finish an EP or an album.
RB: Nice, well hopefully that’s soon. What’s your favorite city and venue to play when you’re on the road?
MK: It’s tough to say, but going to Boulder and Denver is always a lot of fun because it’s the hometown, even though we live in Brooklyn. That’s where our music’s roots are, and those kids just go nuts, so there’s a certain kind of excitement and hype factor in those shows that just makes them a lot more exciting. We feed off that energy and usually the production and the venue is pretty legit, so it’s always a lot of to play out there.
RB: A lot of people also consider Red Rocks the mecca of live electronic music.
MK: Definitely. Red Rocks is unlike any other venue I’ve been to, and going to school around there, I’ve seen a bunch of shows. From the audience and I’ve always wanted to play there. It was kind of the last goal in our business plan. So, we have to re-evaluate after we headline in September.
RB: Or consider it a success.
MK: Yeah, and just quit after that! It’s pretty cool, there’s a tunnel that connects to the sound booth so the sound engineers don’t have to steer through the crowd. Everyone that’s played there signs this concrete wall at the end of the tunnel. So it’s pretty cool to play there and be part of this legacy. The cool thing is you can go there even when there’s no music and walk around the stage.
RB: So my last question is a thing that Rabbits Black likes to do. What are the top three artists Rabbits Black readers should check out right now?
MK: The new Justice album. It’s been out for a few months and it’s so different from their other stuff that people are still a little deer in the headlights about it. But I think it’s one of the better albums that has come out in the last few years. On first listen, their two albums don’t really sound that similar, but they do share a lot of the same foundations. It’s cool how they weaved the steps together, I think they did a really good job.
The new Mr. Oizo album is pretty cool. It’s kind of the furthest thing from mainstream, but it’s always cool to have a different perspective on electronic music. He usually comes out with some pretty wacky stuff, but we really like that.
We’re a fan of Knife Party’s new stuff, too. Ben, Gray, and I got a chance to see their set at Ultra. They definitely have a unique sound and they had the crowd going nuts. Everytime that happens, you have to take note.
RB: It’s always hard to translate something to a live set, so when you can do it in that big of a setting, you know it’s going to be good.
MK: Yeah. Their stuff is similar to the Skrillex vibe, but they did a good job of making it their own and incorporating different sounds and styles into it. I give them a lot of credit for that.
RB: Well, thanks again for talking to us. We’re excited for you show in San Francisco on Friday, it should be a good time.
MK: San Francisco is always a blast to play. It’s kind of got the Boulder vibe, and every show we’ve played there has been a lot of fun. We’re not necessarily excited to visit every city we play on tour, but San Francisco is always fun. It’ll be good to get back out there.
RB: Thanks again, Mike. We’ll see you on Friday!