Savoy: From Boulder to Brooklyn and back again
Who really knows what it is, but there’s something in the water in the college towns around Colorado.
Paper Diamond, Big Gigantic, 3oh!3 and Pretty Lights all boast substantial careers and lay claim to the squarest state of them all. We’re sure that it’s just the nature of higher education though. It has more to do with connecting to like-minded peers than it does going to class, and sometimes those chance encounters are worth more than any degree.
For the three college friends turned national stars in Savoy, time spent in CU Boulder together proved prosperous. The threesome amassed an unparalleled following with its arena rock-infused form and maintains a healthy image in the popular EDM world. The growing success, however, inspired the band and drummer Mike Kelly towards a move.
“We lived in Boulder for six years,” says Kelly. “You know, it’s one of the best towns on Earth, but we wanted to change the scenery and try to get inspired by new things. We still love that town and consider it home in a lot of ways.
“(The move) was a little bit of a shock. It took a bit of adjusting, but I’m from New York - not the city - so it was kind of like coming to a hometown. For Ben (Eberdt) and Gray (Smith) it was a new experience. None of us, including myself, had lived in the city before. It was nice to get some fire under our ass in tough living and it motivated us a bit. We were pretty comfortable in Boulder.”
Kelly says having comfort in hometown fans is nice, but a serious band needs to take steps in other markets to remain relevant.
“Colorado as a whole, I’d say, is unique in their enthusiasm for music, and for us as well,” says Kelly. “The bands there are very supportive. Over the last year or two there are other markets emerging though as rivals, so it’s fun to go into different towns and have a similar experience that you do in your home town. Ideally we’d like to get to a point where the Boulder enthusiasm is felt everywhere, but… those guys still kind of rage harder than anyone else. Ft. Collins is a close second, those kids get rowdy too.”
A new album titled “Self Predator” was released last month by the act and is the working catalyst of its “Get Lazer’d Tour.” As the name suggests, the performance is overloaded with an extravagant laser display. With such an intense live show behind them, Kelly says the members have finally found a balance worthy of large capacity venues.
“You have to find a balance with the live show,” says Kelly. “It’s always cool to have some backup up there with the lasers. But we do have the drums up there and there’s certain points which we highlight a certain event, but for the most part we keep it pretty dim up there and let them do their thing; because they’re way cooler than we are.”
The live drum dynamic isn’t so much something that’s unique to Savoy, but it’s definitely not a typical element in an electronic act’s performance. The guys’ early band manifestation played a big part in keeping the drum ingredient in tact, says Kelly, and it provides them the character needed to set them aside from the herd.
“When we started we were a band with guitar, bass and drums and we wanted to keep the live element to kind of bridge the gap between the electronic scene and your average DJ,” says Kelly. “We messed around with a few different formats. Once we had the drums programmed with the drum machine and the samplers, it actually became something that really highlighted the music rather than accompanying the music. It just brings a new live improvisational element to the show every time. We really kind of picture ourselves as a rock band who plays electronic music. I think these days with electronic music being so prevalent, the traditional set up can get a little old.“
The past few decades saw the rise of electronic music gain traction with an anti-establishment mentality. Kelly credits at least some of its achievements on the ubiquity of social media.
“I think the rise of electronic music in the states kind of syncs up with the rise of social media, they kind of grew together,” says Kelly. “But everyone is on the same playing field now. Everyone uses Twitter or Facebook, so we can’t say that’s the reason for our success. We do have a good relationship with our fans on Twitter. We’re very responsive, so everyone likes that. We like it too when people get back to us that we like.”
Another factor Kelly attributes to the band’s success is being part of a growing movement with artists that offer their music for free.
“For us, we do it to minimize the monetary barrier for people to discover our music,” says Kelly. “With Spotify or streaming sites like that, it’s available anyways if you don’t want to buy it. For us we just wanted to make it very shareable. We had tried selling our music in the past and had some success, but part of you feels like you spend all this time making music because you want to sell it for 10 dollars. You’re automatically alienating 90% of the people who could have enjoyed it.”
The “Get Lazer’d Tour” comes through to Aspen, CO on Feb. 12th at the Belly Up and Feb. 15th at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver.