Whether you've heard them on The Peak 107.1 FM, seen them perform at the Pleasantville Music Festival, famed NYC venues like The Bitter End and The Mercury Lounge, one thing's for sure: NYC-based pop-rock veterans SKYFACTOR know how to craft memorable and powerful songs that grab you from the get-go - and won't let go. The band's simple but effective melodies combined with edgy dynamics take the listener on a ride each and every time.
The band's debut album in 2010 received much critical acclaim, which led to their track "OK" being featured on MTV's hit show 'Teen Mom', resulting in thousands of downloads and streams from around the world. The band then honed its musical chemistry and style for 2014's Signal Strength, which yielded the local radio hit "Wake Up" and even had a song featured on Adult Swim's 'The Eric Andre Show', as a dancing Jack Black jumped around to SKYFACTOR's undeniable groove.
2019 saw the release of their most mature effort to date, A Thousand Sounds, marked by a memorable opening slot with Soul Asylum and being awarded semi-finalists in the Tarrytown Music Hall’s ‘Rock the Hall’ event. But like the rest of the world in 2020, the band members soon found themselves in quarantine. With no other choice but to dig deep and begin writing new music, lead vocalist Bob Ziegler, guitar/bass brothers Jon and Cliff Rubin, and drummer Jason Taylor (all Westchester, NY natives and residents) found themselves re-energized with an updated sound and even deeper level of songwriting.
With live music back in full force, SKYFACTOR is eager to premiere many of these brand-new songs on the road this spring and summer, one of which is entitled “Hey Adam” and serves as the theme song to the new indie film Finding Sandler, which just premiered at the Garden State Film Festival in Asbury Park, NJ.
All of SKYFACTOR's music can be found on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Apple Music and Google Play. Reviews, tour dates, new merch and plenty of music videos can be found at www.skyfactormusic.com.
Thank you for taking this interview! How has the New Year been for you so far as an artist?
BOB ZIEGLER (Vocals): So far so good. Feels like there is a positivity for people who love music to get back out there again and be inspired by music again.
Can you tell us how you've transformed from the beginning to now as an artist?
JON RUBIN (Guitar): Our band has actually undergone quite a transformation over the years. We started truly as an acoustic duo in 2005 because we were just starting to write songs and wanted to see where that would go. So our first few gigs were just as a duo, and Cliff would come on stage to play bass (quietly!) as a special guest for maybe 3 or 4 songs. We even had a guy do some light percussion to help fill the space. But it wasn’t long before we realized the band would be a lot stronger with a true rhythm section, so Cliff became official and we brought in a drummer, all of which allowed us to start writing more involved arrangements and morph into more of a dynamic sound. Then when Jason joined on drums in 2011, the final line-up, for the past decade now, took shape and we were off to the races.
From a songwriting perspective, we have also transformed significantly because we have a wider palette to pull from now that everyone writes and also plays multiple instruments. So the more collaborative we get, the deeper level of songwriting we seem to achieve, which is always the goal as an artist: to keep evolving and growing.
How did you come up with your latest project?
CLIFF RUBIN (Bass): Our latest project is our next record. We’re always writing and working on new songs, and developing them on stage before recording, and we have a lot of new songs we’re super excited about. Playing them live we get them into really good shape before we hit the studio. There’s nothing like playing new songs for real audiences and letting them take shape and evolve before the tape starts rolling.
Where do you live now?
CLIFF: We’re all from the New York City area, and all live in or right outside NYC. Jon and I are brothers, so have always played music together since we were kids, and Bob and Jason were in a band together in college in Michigan, so our musical connections all go way back.
Do you think where you live impacts how your music is made?
CLIFF: Being part of the NYC scene has definitely impacted us because music has always been the heartbeat of the city. It’s always been a great incubator for musical movements. It’s sad that it’s less so now, and music in general seems to have less of a place in the culture than it used to, but NYC is still a great place to be creative and play music.
On the flipside, for some of us living outside the city where there’s more peace and quiet, that tranquility allows us to sit with acoustic guitars and really dig into the music without any distractions. Since we have one foot in the ‘burbs and one in the city, many of our songs have been written on a quiet front porch on a summer night, while others have been written in a seedy rehearsal space on the west side of Manhattan!
What was the inspiration to make music your career?
BOB: I’ve always sang, since I was 16. It’s like breathing for me. When I’m not singing I feel something is off for me. When you are performing live music and connecting with your audience there is nothing better.
How do you want to shape your career?
JON: What matters most to us is that we have the privilege of making music we are proud of and which resonates with people. So whether we are playing a large venue or a smaller, more intimate space, it’s a valuable show if it puts a smile on somebody’s face. That has always been our mantra, to bring joy; so while the career goals include continuing to play larger shows and festivals opening for more established artists - and then headlining some on our own - the truth is as long as we keep getting to make music that means something to our fans and friends around the world, we’re pretty fulfilled. Of course, if we can place our music in a popular commercial, major film or successful TV show, then that would be wonderful too!
Do you work on a tight timeline always or do you go with the flow when it comes to your music?
JASON TAYLOR (Drums): Skyfactor is pretty efficient when it comes to writing and developing new music. In the past, most of our songs started with a musical idea on the guitar followed by lyrics and melodies. Then we develop the arrangement together as a band. More recently we have begun to experiment with different methods. Some newer songs have started on piano or bass -- and some have started with lyrics. As our level of collaboration has increased, some songs have taken longer to complete. But we’ve been happy with the results. We don’t have any firm timelines, but we really look forward to recording an album every few years. So we set our own soft deadlines, because we enjoy being in the studio together. Without those deadlines, we’d miss that time together.
How did your latest title of your music come to be?
BOB: I was going through a lot personally and also living in NYC so the title “A Thousand Sounds” was an ode to all the sounds of the city and all the things going through my head at the time. Things have quieted down a bit since then so that’s good.
Is it hard to let go of the music when it is done?
JASON: I don’t think there’s ever any reason to let go of a piece of music. Of course, when we’re recording an album, there has to be time to say “ok, we’re done with that version, so let’s get the best recording we can.” But each recording is just a snapshot in time of a particular song. We all enjoy letting songs continue to develop as we play them live in the years that follow. Part of the joy of playing live is taking chances and experimenting with older songs. It keeps things fresh and often improves our songs. We have bounced around the idea of re-recording some new versions of older songs, and the prospect of doing that is exciting to us all.
Do you feel an emotional attachment to your music?
BOB: Definitely. Every song has some reflection of what’s going on personally, so I look at our songs like a diary of my life in a way.
How would you describe your music in one word to someone who hasn't listened to it yet?
JON: One word? That’s not easy. But if you used any of these single words to pinpoint our sound, we wouldn’t complain:
Where do they go to listen NOW?
Our website is https://www.skyfactormusic.com/ and you’ll find links there to find us on Spotify, Apple, Amazon, YouTube, and all our social media channels. Follow us there!
What has been the best fan reaction to your music?
CLIFF: We were featured in a very prominent and funny way on the Eric Andre Show, where Jack Black comes out dancing to our track “Come Away,” and that exposure got us new fans all over the globe. We have a lot of great fans who have done some really nice things for us – like fan art from France which was a real favorite of ours, which you can see on our Instagram.
Is there anything exciting coming up for you?
BOB: We’re currently writing songs for our next studio album which we’re all excited for. The songwriting started during the pandemic and is now continuing live together which has been great. Look for a new album next year.
Are you performing anywhere LIVE?
BOB: With a lot of time in the studio coming up, we won’t be playing live this summer as much as we normally would. We do have an outdoor festival show in Westchester in July, and we'll be back at the world-famous Bitter End in NYC for our annual holiday/birthday show in November which is always a highlight for us. So keep up with our shows on our website, and come on out and say hello!