Photographs and videos by Alasdair McBroom

Saffyre are a band unlike any other. These three leading ladies come from the same family and have been taking the music scene in Northern Ireland by storm with their angelic three part harmonies sung to perfection. We visited them in their studio in November 2018 to talk to them and record two acoustic exclusives for Kin.


How did Saffyre come to be?

“We’re family. Two sisters (Shauneen and Maria) and cousin Emma. We started out singing at church weddings and then we branched out into songwriting and performing. It was a pretty natural process, driven by the love of music we’ve all had since we can remember.”

“We all hail from Co. Down. Shauneen and Maria grew up and still live In Loughinisland and Emma grew up and still lives in Teconnaught, both lovely countryside spots. Our mums, sisters Pauline and Rosaleen, are from Castlewellan, or Aughlisnafin to be precise. Our dads are from Drumnaconagher and Teconnaught, so all very local! We grew up very much in each others pockets, half reared with each other.”

It was with our mums that we learned how to harmonise, whether it was on car journeys, cooking dinner, doing chores – there was always singing.

“Our mothers come from a family of twelve. Six boys and six girls, all great singers. Our cousins are really musical too. We have sixty nine family members on that side so there are a lot of get togethers with music and sing songs. It was with our mums that we learned how to harmonise, whether it was on car journeys, cooking dinner, doing chores - there was always singing. We started playing guitar around the age of sixteen. Our mums were stay at home mums for the most part, which was lovely to be honest, always coming home from school to a nice cooked dinner ready! Our dads were in construction.”

What musical influences do you have?

“We have so many musical influences. A lot of great female singers really shaped our style, like Eva Cassidy, Shania Twain, The Corrs, Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones and of course some of the big bands too, like U2’s early stuff and Coldplay. We used to listen to a lot of country music as teens growing up like the Dixie Chicks, Jo-Dee Messina and Faith Hill so all these styles have really had a huge impact on who we are as artists.

What do you feel Saffyre offers listeners that some bands may not?

“We always try to aim for a melodic and easy listening type sound, as well as trying to cover all bases when we write. We’ll have some nice dreamy ballads, then we might release a mid tempo or upbeat track so there’s something whatever mood you’re in! We also try to keep what we write about very true to life and relatable, I think that helps connect better with the listener.”

Can you explain your signature sound?

“The three part harmony is definitely our signature sound. Our mums taught us how to harmonise when we were young and it’s been part of our sound since day one. The family harmony, or ‘blood harmonies’ as some people call it, is a really cool thing!”

Blood Harmonies

There has been a lot of talk recently about the concept of ‘Blood Harmonies”. The phenomenon seems to prevail throughout families who have grown up singing together, living in close proximity, developing their own personal language through harmonious existence, absorbing and learning passed down knowledge from parents and the wider family circle. Blood harmonies are more of an instinct than a technique. A natural reaction to each other that develops over the course of a lifetime. The result is quite spectacular, producing vocal harmonies that are often more than the sum of their parts.

Blood harmonies are more of an instinct than a technique. A natural reaction to each other that develops over the course of a lifetime.

“We each bring something different to the band. Our personalities actually really complement each other I think that’s why we’ve been together so long! We don’t take ourselves too seriously and the sense of humour we share is what gets us through the unpredictable and tough journey of the music world!”

What are the band's biggest achievements so far?

“We’ve had some great highlights over the years. We recently had the opportunity of working with Grammy award winning producer Jim Johnson in Florida. We co-wrote the song ‘Run For Your Life’ and he produced it.”

"Last November our single ‘Survive’ was on the A playlist on both Cool FM and Downtown Radio, which is pretty unheard of for an unsigned band. Our other tracks ‘Walking on Water’ and ‘Run For Your Life’ were also playlisted on RTE 1, U105 and Spirit Radio. We’ve been really lucky to play in some beautiful venues such as The Olympia, The Waterfront, Custom House square, The Ulster Hall and most recently in St. Anne’s cathedral in August 2018 supporting Brian Kennedy. We’ve had some great experiences shooting a few music videos over the past couple of years as well all over the the North.”

What does the future look like for the band?

“Right now we are really enjoying songwriting and releasing material. We have new music due for release in the new year and have some lovely gigs lined up for 2019 as well.”

Saffyre would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas for 2018, with their exclusive rendition of Silent Night.