YSU student tackles the strange and the familiar

The Strange Familiar has had music featured on shows such as the CW’s “Vampire Diaries” and ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars” and “Switched at Birth.”  Photo Courtesy of Nick Sainato.
The Strange Familiar has had music featured on shows such as the CW’s “Vampire Diaries” and ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars” and “Switched at Birth.”
Photo Courtesy of Nick Sainato.

Nick Sainato, Youngstown State University junior, has been juggling college and a busy musical career in the popular indie pop/rock band, The Strange Familiar. The band’s songs have been featured on many television shows on the CW Television Network.

The Strange Familiar was formed in 2006 by husband and wife duo, Jeff Andrea (guitar) and Kira Leyden (piano/vocals). The two are originally from Akron, Ohio.

“We started this band to start something totally different, and now we are totally different from where we started,” Leyden said.

They recruited their first band member, Frank Freeman (bass) and moved to Los Angeles, California.

In the summer of 2009, Nick Sainato moved to LA for school. He met up with his childhood friends, Andrea and Lyden, and joined their band while going to school in 2009.

“I learned the songs the first day I got to LA while sitting on my unfurnished apartment floor, went to rehearsal the next day, and I’ve been playing with them ever since,” Sainato said.

While Sainato is in The Strange Familiar, he is also finishing his degree at YSU.

“Nick is the busiest drummer I know. I have a lot of respect for him pulling off both,” Andrea said.

Sainato said he knows the importance of education and has made it a priority to graduate while pursuing his musical career.

“To me, the education side of it isn’t for the degree or to solidify a job or career once I graduate. It’s more of just a personal goal of mine to prove to myself that I can do it,” Sainato said.

Living in Youngstown, Ohio  might be quite a commute for a musician recording in Los Angeles and touring across the country but Sainato seems to be making it work.

“A town only limits you as much as you want it to. In my opinion, Youngstown is a great place to be in because we have access to other great cities that are within driving distance,” Sainato said.

The band has had much success, and has had their music featured on shows such as The CW’s “Vampire Diaries,” ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars,” “Switched at Birth,” “Secret life of the American Teenager” and A&E’s, “The Glades.” The Strange Familiar has their own Pandora station, and their albums are for sale on iTunes.

“The first time I heard our song ‘Redemption’ on the CW’s ‘Vampire Diaries’ was incredible. It was really cool to see one of our songs work together with someone’s character on the show,” Sainato said.

When the band isn’t making their own music, they like to listen to Cold Play, Sleeping at Last and the Civil Wars. Sainato’s musical influences include Weezer, Led Zeppelin, Third Eye Blind and Sara Bareilles.

The Strange Familiar is releasing their extended play album, “Surrender,” on October 8. It will be featuring five new songs that will be on their upcoming full album, which will be finished in November and due to release in February.

“The new album has a lot more energy, more beats, and is a more modern production,” Leyden said.

The band is in the process of planning a show at YSU in the future. Sainato will be graduating from YSU in the spring of 2014.

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