When Steph Taylor and Nabedi Osorio of Miami’s The State Of were living on opposite coasts, pretty much everyone else around them thought their partnership was done. But theirs was a special sort of bond, closer than you average Craigslist band, one that didn't need regular, everyday maintenance.
“I was gone for three years in L.A.,” Osorio says. “Even during that time, we never we really took time off because I would come a couple of times a year [to play.]"
“A big thing that happened was people got confused if we were a band anymore,” Taylor says. “It was never a question in either of our minds that we broke up... The circumstances had us in different places so it made it harder for us to get together and create. When Nabedi would come to town, we would practice and play the stuff we already had so we would have a tight show.”
Introduced by a mutual friend in 1999, Taylor (vocals and keys) and Osorio (backing vocals and drums) were instantly drawn to each other. Or, as Osorio says: "Sisters from other misters.”
All the touring didn’t hurt either.
“We’d tour like four to six months out of the year,” Taylor says. “That had us playing pretty much every night, consistently... We were able to finish each other’s musical sentences as well as personal sentences because we just spent too much fucking time together,” she laughs.
Both Osorio and Taylor are essentially self-taught musicians with Osorio learning the fundamentals in middle and high school where she was in the symphonic and marching band respectively while Taylor figured things out on her own. They subsequently flip-flopped those roles when Taylor spent time at the University of Florida and Berkleee honing her craft academically while Osorio did the same in Miami’s music clubs.
Aside from “life experiences,” the duo cites no greater influence than the drum ‘n’ bass scene of the ‘90s. Taylor exudes an joyous “fuck yeah” at the mere mention of the genre and Osorio expounds on that sentiment.
“Here in Miami back in ’97 through ’99, there was that whole Beat Camp era. I was there every Thursday and I loved those beats and I would get up on the stage with the DJ and play on buckets with them."
“That’s what anybody that’s played with Nabedi will say,” Taylor adds. “They’ll say that she’s a fucking precision machine.”
Indeed, it's a title hard to dispute. Just recently at the group's III Points set, Osorio broke her bass drum pedal mid-song, but still managed to stay on tempo. But it’s not only Osorio’s drumming prowess that makes the band special. As a group, The State Of has rocked plenty of faces off.
“Probably the biggest compliment,” Taylor says, “the first thing people usually say to us is, ‘Wow, it’s crazy to see how just the two of you make that sound.’ The sonic atmosphere is very full. That’s part of the whole connection.”
Our conversation occurs on a Saturday, directly after band practice. The duo is preparing for a series of shows around South Florida.
For instance, they’re heading north this weekend to Palm Beach County for a pair of Halloween weekend shows. The first is at Dada in Delray Beach. The second will be as part of the locals-heavy lineup for Downtown West Palm Beach’s annual Moonfest. The festival is expanding this year to five stages and The State Of joins South Florida mainstays such as Miami’s Deaf Poets and Peyote Coyote from Pompano Beach.
It’s all part of a grand plan that, although still in its infancy, seems to be working.
Having been a band for the better part of eight years now, The State Of are focused on writing and releasing new music, expanding their online presence, and finding management to concentrate on the business side of things while they focus on what they know best: the music.
“We want to do things differently,” Taylor explains. “Back in the day, we were completely DIY.”
“We made our own merch,” Osorio adds.
“We literally made our own merch — like Etsy, artisan style.”
But now that The State Of is slightly more organized, the duo is excited to start playing shows and connecting with new audiences.
The more she describes the future of the band, the more animated and enthusiastic Taylor gets, her smile almost poking through the phone. “It’s taking a smarter, more efficient approach to getting the word out. We’re on the precipice of that. We’re playing a lot and taking really cool gigs that we’re excited about. New people are hearing us… now we’re adding to that, building a buzz before we start recording an album and releasing it.”
“Doing it again,” Osorio concludes.
The State Of. 11 p.m. Saturday, October 29 at Respectable Street, 518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-832-9999; sub-culture.org/respectable-street; General admission tickets to the festival cost $15 via moonfest.me.
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