Updated: May 16
By Scott Roos
pictures courtesy of Set To Flames
“I don’t want to use the word isolated but there’s (only) a select few of us (in the La Ronge Hard Rock scene) and it’s not like it makes things more difficult or anything like that but (Set To Flames) is definitely kind of different as opposed to all of the other musical styles that are prevalent there right now. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not saying it’s bad. You just don’t think of hard rock when you think of La Ronge,” muses Set To Flames vocalist Shelbey Savoie.
Savoie was not born in the small northern Saskatchewan community of La Ronge but has called it home for the majority of her life. By day, she’s a mild mannered aircraft maintenance engineer, but after hours, the medium is the majesty of rock and the method is her band Set To Flames.
“Troy (Patterson, Set to Flames guitarist) did music professionally out of high school for ten years so he is an amazing musician all around. I’m super lucky to be able to play with him and learn from him and I don’t take that lightly at all. When I joined there were four guys in the beginning and I just kinda hopped in and said ‘Hey I sing and I wanna start. Give me a cover. Give me something to audition with.’ So I showed up one night and I sang and I got invited back. It evolved a lot but that’s where it started. That would have been in early 2015,” explains Savoie of how she joined the band.
It was soon apparent that the level of commitment that Savoie and Patterson had to the project did not jive with the other guys. Slowly, over a period of time, band members left the group until just Patterson and Savoie remained and that’s how it’s remained that way ever since.
“We were practicing four, sometimes five nights a week. We were doing shows and some of us wanted to do the album, write originals and progress. Unfortunately, some of the guys were just not wanting to commit to that and be at that level of time consumption which is totally understandable. So the direction we wanted to go was just not for them. There was no kind of falling out or anything like that. It was just these guys didn’t wanna commit at the level we chose to and that’s completely understandable,” recounts Savoie.
It was that level of commitment that enabled the pair known as Set To Flames to toil away at their debut full length for six years. The end result is a musical cocktail of early aughts heavy melodic rock, 90’s industrial and a pinch of 80’s glam. Savoie’s vocal hooks often soar over Patterson’s riffs to give the group a radio friendly appeal. Patterson’s tasteful guitar solos also play a major factor in the overall listenability of Set To Flames.
“I think it’s funny. We’ve never been in the same room to write a song together. If Troy comes up with a piece of music, and he sends it to me and he says ‘Do something with it,’ or if I come up with something and I put a vocal track down or maybe a bassline just to give it a little bit of structure, I’ll do the same thing and send it to him. Then if we both decide this is good and it’s gonna go somewhere we’ll continue on and we’ll finish it or if we’re not feeling it we’ll just toss it. That’s really our process of working together is we’ll work separately but we work together,” recounts Savoie of how she and Patterson work together.
In general, in the time frame that the pair worked on the record together, the main goal was not only perfecting the structure of the songs but also how they would sound. The album is entirely self produced but, at the same time, has a professional gloss to it. Savoie attributes most of the production quality to Patterson.
“(Recording the album has) literally been in our basements. We both have the same program that we record and mix everything on so that’s what makes it easy for us to swap out files back and forth. It’s been at home. It’s been trying it out and if we don’t understand we watch youtube, we read blogs, and then we understand. It’s been trial and error. Most of that has not been 100% us. It’s been Troy,” explains Savoie.
For her part, though, Savoie has been able to make sure that her deeply personal lyrics match the arrangements that Patterson puts forward. She has a keen innate ability to turn a phrase. Her words are relatable but she also can tip her hat to the standard form of a good classic rock lyric too.
“Quite a few of the songs are from a personal perspective. Something is happening to me or I’m feeling a certain way. Sometimes the only way I can move past it or process it is to write about it. But then there’s some songs where I just wanna write a rock song. Or I just wanna write something that’s, I don’t want to use the word superficial or anything, but just up towards the surface, just a bit more light hearted. I don’t want everything to be super downer, depressing and stuff like that. But a lot of times I take an experience or a way I’m feeling or something that’s going on and I convert it on paper and that’s my songwriting process,” Savoie said.
Now that Set To Flames' self titled debut has dropped, it’s up to Savoie and Patterson to plan what their next move is in the days, weeks, and months ahead. They will no doubt be itching to get back to playing live shows but, at the same time, they likely won’t want to rest on their laurels for long.
“For the near future, we obviously want to get out there and let everyone know that we do have this album out. We want as many people to hear it as are willing to listen. In the distant future, we’re kind of saying to ourselves ‘well, what now? This has been our focus for the longest time and now it’s done. What now?’ so for now I guess we say ‘let’s just do it all over again’” Savoie concluded.