City in Light – TMG Artist Spotlight

By | July, 8, 2015

TMG is pleased to present another introspective artist interview, this time with the amazingly musical San Mateo band, City In Light! 

Catch them at 50 Mason Social House in San Fransisco this Thursday (7/9) at 11pm! Grab your tickets here!

City in Light has been called rock, blues, folk, alternative, and compared to bands like Fleet Foxes, The Rolling Stones, and Muse. Featuring shredding guitar solos, smooth and dirty sax grooves, male and female harmonies from behind the guitar and drums, and get-down-with-your-bad-self bass lines, City in Light knows how to have a fun time and put on a great show to match.

Let’s meet the band!

 Derek Halbrook (Vocals & Rhythm Guitar) and Liliana Urbain (Vocals & Drums)

C. J Forney (Lead Guitar)

Sam Miller (Bass & Keyboard)

Nathan Routman (Saxophone)


1. What’s your bands name? Where did the name come from?

City in Light. It was a stand-in name for awhile but then people started saying how they liked it and if we listen to anyone’s advice, its our fans, so the name stuck! Of course, it’s a shout out to grand ol’ San Francisco.

2. The Yellow Collar Collective is all about the daily grind musicians go through to perfect their craft, what has been your biggest struggle and accomplishment as a musician?

There’s the cliche but real “trying to make it big” blockade that so many musicians face, but honestly, as a six-person band with conflicting work schedules, landing a practice with all of us feels like a great accomplishment. Then there’s the debate about whether we spend this precious, all-person practice working on old or new stuff and before you know it, there goes 30 minutes of precious practice time. In short, time is an obstacle, but it’s also one of our greatest accomplishments. Yeah, we’ve thrown on a few new members, but City In Light has been around for over ten years and rather than falling apart as people grow, it grows with us. 

3. What other instruments can you and your fellow band members play?

We’ve got the basics–guitar, bass, singing drummer–but we’ve recently added a bari sax and an auxiliary percussion man (who plays everything–have you ever seen a guy play goat toenails?). Those our just our main instruments; we can all switch roles if needed. 

4. Why’d you start making music and why specifically did you choose your genre?

I don’t think there was ever a conscious choice.  Music was just always part of our lives. Without it we’d certainly have loads more free time, but also probably pretty bored (and, let’s face it, way less cool). Our rock style emerged from a lead guitarist who loves band like the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, a lead singer into The Dear Hunter, a drummer obsessed with The Hush Sound/Queen, and a bassist influenced by Snarky Puppy. Quite the combination, but it seems to work. 

5. Do you have any memorable musical experiences that have shaped who you guys are?

Probably when we found our drummer, Liliana. Clint and Sam were at a mutual friend’s birthday party and just happened to sit across from Liliana. What started out as a joke–”You play guitar? No way! I play drums. We should totally jam after this dinner!” *cue laughter*–quickly turned into huge jam session at the birthday boy’s house. Very rarely do you click with a musician right off the bat, but man did the three of them click that night. They offered Liliana a position in the band right then and there.

6. Have you ever released any albums or are working on any now? Any special projects?

Nothing public… UNTIL NOW! Our EP “Sailing Backwards” is due to release within the coming month. It’s featuring five of our most recent songs and you can download our single “She’s Got You Movin’” for free at our website: 

7. Do you collaborate with other artists? Inside and outside your genre?

Funny enough, the artists that we have collaborated with in the past are now part of the band. We dig collaborating with people in all sorts of ways, though. Since we book most of our shows, we often pull on bands we’ve met at previous shows and ask friend’s who want to pursue photography/videography to come document so we can show off their stuff on our social media.

8. What venues and events have you performed at in the past five years? Which has been your favorite?

Most recently we played El Rio (one of our favorite SF bars) and a coupler county fairs. The Alameda Fair was definitely our favorite. The crowd wasn’t huge because we were competing with Kansas who was playing nearby, but those that were there loved it and as a band who gets energy from the crowd, we had an amazing time. Not to mention it was the first time all six of us played together. And the stage actually fit us all! Who could ask for more in a show! 

9. How do you acquire shows and promote yourself? Do you have any recommendations for other artists?

Cold calls/emails/open mics. You have to just go for it. When you play an open mic, go up to the organizer and other bands and give them your stuff. That way, if you land a show you’ll also have other bands you can bring onto the bill. In our experience, when you pull another band on a bill you not only get fresh audience members, but the bands will do the same for you! In fact, if you’re looking for shows, reach out to us! We are always on the lookout for new bands to play shows with, just email us and we’ll hook you up! 

10. Do you have any mottos?

“Derek, answer your freaking phone.”

“Liliana, could you maybe stop traveling for at least two months in a row?”

“Drew is Liliana’s third arm!”

“Clinton, play the guitar behind your head. The whole show. It doesn’t get old.”

“The City Never Sleeps”

 11. What artists inspire you?

I touched on it in question four, but a few more include Fleet Foxes, Muse, Silversun Pickups, The Doors, Wolfmother, Jimi Hendrix, Sara Bareilles, Umphrey’s Mcgee, Allen Stone, so many more…  

12. What’s next for your band?

Light bulb bottle openers, getting a full length album recorded, maybe getting a full string orchestra to back us, and shows shows shows! 

13. What do you do when you’re not listening to or making music?

Nathan builds things, Derek plays video games, Clinton plays more guitar, Sam thinks up weird rhythms to put in songs, Drew goes to school, and Liliana talks to strangers. 

14. What’s your favorite song right now?

Clint: “Bad Friday” by Umphrey’s Mcgee

Sam: “Atlas Stone” by Haken

Derek: “We Own The Night” by Dance Gavin Dance

Drew: “Mama” by Phil Collins

Liliana: “Unaware” by Allen Stone

 Nathan: “Thursday” by Morphine

Here’s City in Light’s title track off their upcoming EP “Sailing Backwards”!

Check them out Live at Dolores Park Cafe below!

Huge thank you to City in Light for taking their time to do this interview for all of us!

Catch them at 50 Mason Social House in San Fransisco this Thursday (7/9) at 11pm! Grab your tickets here!

Check out more of City in Light and their music through the links below!

Official Website