Brooklyn-born group Say She She wowed Santa Barbara on Friday Feb. 9, selling out SOhO Restaurant and Music Club.

The effervescent vibe of Say She She was immediately visible upon entering SOhO, with groovy guitar riffs lilting in the background as a massive disco ball illuminated the dance floor in shades of turquoise and magenta.

This easy, vibrant atmosphere is to be expected from Say She She, the queens of “discodelic,” a term coined by the group in an attempt to define the unique sound of their music. Those who have listened know that their discography incorporates a little bit of everything; it is a magical mix of disco and soul and dreaminess. 

The essence of Say She She is the breathtaking harmony created by the three lead voices: Piya Malik, Sabrina Mileo Cunningham and Nya Gazelle Brown. I met with the trio in the green room before they took the stage to chat about their influences, journey and new album “Silver.”

We began by discussing the genesis of Say She She, which is hugely tied to the New York City music scene. Constantly performing in the same spaces, sometimes together and sometimes as members of different bands, they had known each other for years before forming Say She She.

Their debut single “Forget Me Not” epitomizes the utter singularity of Say She She’s soundscape. An astonishing hodgepodge of 70s funk, Bollywood lofi and impressive opera-like high notes, “Forget Me Not” establishes from the get-go that absolutely nothing is off limits. 

As Cunningham expressed, “Our philosophy in general is not trying to define ourselves under one type of genre. We pride ourselves in being a mix of a few different things.”

And so, while largely inspired by the golden age of disco, Say She She draws from a wide range of inspirations, including Rotary Connection, Talking Heads, Grace Jones and ESG, among others. 

There is a similar sense of boundlessness when considering song lyrics, which ooze with defiance, humor and wit. Say She She carves out a safe space for female listeners, centering their music on the various experiences of women. 

Perhaps the most politically-charged song is “NORMA,” a pointed response to the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade in June 2022. “NORMA” is an incredibly heartening listen, with simple but powerful lyrics like “We will not go back!” and “Write a letter to the state!” 

More subtle yet nonetheless striking, “Forget Me Not” is an ode to the Guerrilla Girls, one of New York City’s most famous feminist organizations. “Entry Level” satirizes the sheltered misogyny of men in the workplace. And “Don’t You Dare Stop” unabashedly spotlights female sexuality. Pro-woman rhetoric can be found in every song.

The group is currently promoting “Silver,” their most recent album that was released in late 2023. “Silver” is their sophomore album, released about a year after their first album, “Prism.” When asked about any notable changes between the two albums, Cunningham responded, “I think the biggest difference from “‘Prism’ to ‘Silver’ is just how we wrote the songs.”

She went on to explain that “‘Prism’ was primarily written around the keyboard and ‘Silver’ we wrote with our full band … [We had] drums, keys, bass, guitar. And so we were able to express ourselves in a different way. It sort of transformed our writing in a way, giving us the freedom to write some more dance songs, more upbeat things.”

Their creative process clearly hinges on a certain communitarianism. Malik took this idea a step further, describing how Brown, Cunningham and herself are able to meld their voices together so seamlessly. She implied that at the heart of the band is collaboration and selflessness. It sounds counterintuitive, but, when it comes to singing as a group, Malik clarified, “it’s all about listening more than just projecting.”

Undoubtedly the most important ingredient that has contributed to Say She She’s amazing chemistry is the friendship that underlies everything. Ultimately, Brown, Cunningham and Malik are friends first and bandmates second. The love that they share for each other radiates, making their music particularly heartfelt and special. 

Malik recounted that this was what pushed the three of them together in the first place, saying, “You never know what’s going to happen when you’re at the mercy of others, but when you’re doing it with people you trust and love, it’s so much more fun. Nothing is better than singing and playing music with your closest people in life.”

By the time the show started at 10p.m., the dance floor was packed and morale was high. Cunningham, followed by Brown and then Malik took their places behind their respective microphones and began to melodize. The show was absolutely stunning. The group’s fluid and synchronized movements were enrapturing and underscored their cohesive groupness. Rather than being three individual, detached singers sharing the stage, Cunningham, Brown and Malik performed completely in unison. The mood was phenomenal and the audience swayed enthusiastically to Say She She’s enthralling tunes. 

Say She She’s music can be found on all platforms. They will be continuing to tour for most of 2024, with the tour’s final leg wrapping up in Europe. All information regarding music and shows can be found on the Say She She website