Saylor McVernon wants to make his mark on funk music.
There's not many 25-year-olds that know their Funkadelics from their Family Stones, or the Parliament outside of politics.
But the guitarist and lead singer of eight-piece outfit Saylor and the Flavor - who cites Prince as his musical hero - wants to share his rhythmic passion with anyone who'll listen.
"I understand the power this music has, and it's so positive and unifying," Saylor says. "I like to dance and I've always liked to make people dance. [Funk] has a power of positivity, and that hypnotic rhythm - I love it."
Saylor, along with Flavor bandmates and siblings Vienna and Phoenix, is the offspring of Newcastle music stalwart and former Retro Rockets frontman Brien McVernon.
During their formative years the rooms of the Mayfield East household were invariably filled with an eclectic array of artists, not just the raucous rockabilly, with which the patriarch is synonymous.
"[Dad] loves Earth, Wind and Fire and Stevie Wonder," Saylor says. "He loves music as a whole and there was always Prince playing at home, who's my hero. My number one.
"[Dad] and I have spent a lot of time talking about and appreciating music together."
Saylor's journey into funk was the result of musical autodidactism.
In high school he played in a "Black Keys-inspired band" and loved The Cure and Van Halen, but frequently ventured to his local library to borrow CDs and expand his knowledge.
One of his father's housemates was a funk tragic, which prompted Saylor to venture deeper into the genre that emerged from African-American communities in the mid-1960s.
"One day I borrowed Parliament's Greatest Hits and Sly and the Family Stone's Fresh and Stand! and that changed it all for me," says the convert.
Before COVID hit, Saylor formed his first funk band with friend Riley Cooper, Big Riles and M.C Sabby D, and played only a few covers gigs before venues shut down.
"Our initial plan was to have some fun," he explains. "But we didn't see longevity in the band unless we wrote originals, because I didn't want to play Play that Funky Music and September - which I love, but I've always wanted to play my own funk music."
His brother Phoenix adds, "We would do Down and Out and Funky Little Thing. Those were the two originals written early. Over quarantine we had a lot of time to sit down and work."
When Cooper moved to Canberra, lockdown was spent expanding both the line-up and originals catalogue.
"I brought in horns, percussion, extra guitars and went harder on it," Saylor says.
Saylor and the Flavor, at full-strength, is an eight-piece - though the frontman views it as a "fluid line-up" depending on the availability of its members.
He won't turn down a gig if one musician is indisposed, the Flavors instead playing different instruments to cover for the absent party.
The band includes Phoenix on keyboards, guitarist and vocalist Harry Gelzinnis, drummer Kyle Innes, percussionist Phoebe Campbell, bassist Andrew Gray, guitarist and vocalist India Seddon-Callaghan and Niamh Bellicanta on trumpet.
Vienna sings and raps in the band but is travelling through Eastern Europe.
Saylor is the principal songwriter in the group, often bringing songs to rehearsals that are fully formed. The members then learn their part and imbue it with their own personality and musicianship.
"A lot of the time I'll pick up my bass and I'll just play the root note - one chord, and I'll embellish other notes into it over and over again," Saylor explains. "Whether I'm stomping my foot, or a drum loop, I'll just do that until I start coming up with a vocal melody or hook, singing the same thing and picturing if it will sound good live. Can I envision people enjoying what I'm writing?
"Then I'll record that line and build the song up by recording all the different parts."
Saylor and the Flavor have an undeniable presence on stage, a colourful, tailor-made party band that could play any stage in the world and have the crowd on its feet.
"It's a wonderful feeling," guitarist Gelzennis says. "You see the people having fun and they're giving you their energy - everyone's feeding each other. It's about connection and bringing everyone together. The medium is funk music and that rhythm - it gets the body moving. People say to us after the show, 'You can't help dancing!' You just have to do it."
If the McVernon family wasn't busy enough already, Phoenix reveals that he's in a synth-heavy side project with his dad.
"With me being a keyboard player, it's Tears For Fears, Depeche Mode-inspired music," he says. "Distant from funk but also distant from rockabilly. We're working on doing a show fairly soon."
Saylor and the Flavor are in the studio with a view to releasing two singles around September and October, Somebody's Fool and Sweet Love, and an EP in December.
On these recordings Saylor wants to pay homage to his heroes but also stamp his brand on the genre.
"Those things will reveal themselves as we continue writing," he says. "There's so many influences and so many musicians in my heart that I want to do proud.
"But you've got to have an identity. That's always something I'm thinking about."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.