Bella Saona is a self-proclaimed Mozart fanatic.
"His music is so happy and then dark: suddenly you’re in another world. That’s what I love about Mozart," she said. "He’ll bring you to two worlds at once."
Saona compared the legendary composer’s work to the music she crafts with her band, The Fire and Reason: they both take the listener on a journey, she said, experiencing emotional highs and lows.
A former model and performing arts student, Saona and fellow band-mates guitarist Steve Narvaez, bassist Thomas Buchmueller and drummer Joe Salvati combine their talents to produce music evocative of Gwen Stefani, Nine Inch Nails and PJ Harvey. Saona’s sass-laden voice resounds over tight beats, guitar riffs and electronic synth. It’s a hybrid familiar to those in touch with indie electro-rock, as per the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
The band, formed in 2005 has endured an ever-evolving line-up. Originally comprised of vocalist Saona and Narvaez on the guitar and beat-box, The Fire and Reason lacked forcefulness, according to Saona. This problem was remedied with the addition of Buchmueller and original drummer Chirs Bielfeldt. Along with a much fuller sound, Saona said she felt a fresh sense of power after the changes.
"I need to have the element of a real drum," she said. "It made me feel so powerful. Honestly, it’s so much cooler to be a girl and have my boys behind me and just rocking out."
The band members each find their own influences in different musical genres: Saona digs hip-hop vibes while Narvaez shares his British preferences and Buchmueller contributes with techno and electro blips. Former drummer Bielfeldt brought indie digs to the table, which have been replaced by Salvati’s jazz and Latin drives.
With lyrics like, "Well you can call me lover, or you can call me pain/ I stole you from another, then danced on her remains," The Fire and Reason touches on the emotions and trials of relationships — also featuring Saona’s feelings toward disloyalty and the ways people present themselves.
"I like talking about infidelity a lot, and craziness, and also about love and all the hypocrisy. (I sing about) how people out there are so fake and how real music is not appreciated anymore by people," she said.
This summer they plan to begin work on an album, to follow up on their previously released self-titled EP. Saona said that she wanted the new album to bring listens to a "completely different place."
"It has the same elements, but completely different, because life is not like that. Everything changes. You’re not the same as you were last year."
When not hitting both coasts of the Atlantic or rehearsing, the band likes to kick back at the Alligator Lounge — a joint where you can get a free pizza with the purchase of any single drink — in NYC, Saona said. They also like to exercise, see movies and spend the holidays together. Saona described them as "a big cheesy family."
The Fire and Reason has broken out of its native New York City music scene, gaining an international fan base through MySpace and playing gigs in Europe — where Saona particularly enjoyed rocking out for Liverpool’s younger crowd.
“In the UK they dance, they jump, they go nuts. There’s no age limit. They just go ballistic," she said.
Saona said that she is most grateful for her fan base and hopes to be able to reach audiences around the globe, and touch the lives of millions of people — not just those in New York.
"Our music is bigger than small fucking scenes," Saona said. "It’s for anybody; it’s for everybody to love."