Brite Winter 2016 Artist Spotlight: Seafair

By Rachel Hunt

Seafair loves their hometown.

The Downtown Cleveland Alliance chose none other than the group’s original song “Ohio” to represent our city on the lake in their newest promotional video. The song’s backbone is a mounting duet between violin and cello evoking unseen imagery of the Cleveland Orchestra, one of the best in the country, before vocalist Chayla Hope comes into their harmony, joined by booming guitar and drums that drive it all home, showing off what the rock ’n’ roll capital has to offer in the way of contemporary composition.

The band’s love for Cleveland isn’t only apparent in their lyrics, but throughout the decisions that they’ve made as a group, getting their 2015 full length The Querencia pressed at Gotta Groove Records and recording their upcoming EP with local engineering wiz, Jim Stewart. Even though they are not all native to The Land, some coming to the Buckeye state from New York and Michigan, they’ve made a commitment to the area by being centralized in Cleveland no matter where their individual paths may take them.

“You go all of these other places and people are wonderful everywhere, but here it seems like a bigger community,” says Hope from her Parma residence, the band’s framed multi-colored vinyl record prominently displayed on the living room wall. “You start to actually have a family and a kinship with all of these musicians and it’s really phenomenal. You just want to support everybody all of the time. I wish I could go to a show every single night. The only reason we don’t do it all is because of scheduling with six people, that’s literally it,” Hope says in earnest.

Seafair is an extremely eclectic group with a multitude of influences. Each member of the band has been playing music for a long time in everything from marching band drum corps to youth orchestra, Celtic metal band Myth to indie-folk outfit Unsparing Sea. “I think that’s where it really came together. Our influences allow us to play with a bunch of different people because we are all of these sounds without even trying. We all have that as our inspiration and that’s what drives us.”

They received unprecedented support when they came up with the idea to have an entire orchestra accompany them at The House of Blues Cleveland, headlining Cellar Door Rendezvous in August. “Bigger bands do this,” Hope said of the performance. “We thought we would if we ever got that lucky, but then we thought ‘Wait a minute, we’re lucky right now.’

Andrea Belding and Tara Hanish, Seafair’s violinist and cellist, are both instructors. “They worked their asses off. They immediately went out and got their students, old friends, people from quartets they knew to play,” says Hope. In the end, they assembled a group of 34 musicians, ranging in age from twelve to sixty to play with them onstage to a completely sold-out crowd.

The community loves Seafair right back; readers of Cleveland’s Scene Magazine named them “Best Band” of last year. Fusion Flimworks was a fan long before they reached out and asked the band if they could shoot a music video for the single “Discovery”. They were a completely unplanned substitute for Sun Club at Brite Winter last year, where they ended up being a crowd favorite out of the entire festival lineup. It positioned them as an obvious act for this year; Seafair will play at 8:35 p.m. on the Covermymeds Stage on Elm Avenue.

Never a band to shy away from a challenge, Hope promises a special performance for this year’s show. “All I can really say is expect one hell of a production. It’s going to be over the top, ridiculously (hopefully) awesome. We’re really planning; our heads are all Brite right now. I’m learning something that I would never sit down and learn normally. Expect some guests and two new songs.”

Watch Seafair on YouTube