Escort is not a disco ensemble from the 70s rediscovered by some hipster DJ and reintroduced to new 19 year old club goers within the last couple of months. Zena Kitt (Lead Vocals), TOY !!! (Backing Vocals), Kemba Russel (Backing Vocals), Anne Harris (Backing Vocals), Ben Herson (Drums), Dan Balis (Guitar & Keys) produce tracks that sound so authentically disco you might look for them in your coke-head uncle’s record collection. The group puts out releases every few years and each one is worth the wait. In 2006 they released a “Love in Indigo” 12″ followed by their “Starlight” EP, which included a sick dub by Metro Area’s Darshan Jersani. They had a few more singles in 2007 and 2010 brought about my favorite track of theirs ” Cocaine Blues”. I’ve heard a few remixes here and there and I’m crossing my fingers for something new to come out soon.
I recently read an interesting interview where they described their creative process: “All of the synths we use are analog, and all of the instruments you hear are real. The closest thing to a true digital instrument we use is a Linn Drum. We also like to make things even more analog than they are before they go into the computer. Like taking an old synth, plugging that into to a weird guitar pedal, sending that into an old guitar amp, putting a ribbon mic in front of it and feeding that into a piece taken from a vintage mixing board and then into the computer.” Escort’s tracks are by no means throwbacks but they definitely do sound like classics.
I’m kinda ashamed that I was not clued into Danny Daze‘s new release Your Everything that hit the digital shelves a few weeks ago. I’m typically not the biggest fan of techie house but there are some great tracks out there that have some serious soul. This is one of them. Proud to have him here in Miami as one of the city’s best producers, every track I hear by this guy (from his multiple projects) is golden. A couple months ago we posted his remix of Entresol’s Formal Matter, so here’s a reminder if you missed it.
Alrighty kids! I’m sure many of you have already heard SHIT ROBOT is coming back to Miami on August 13th at Grand Central. Shit Robot is Marcus Lambkin from Ireland and part of the DFA family. I’ll spare you all of the biographical details which you can read about here. We caught up with Mr. Shit himself (lol) and were lucky enough to have a few really important questions answered. Check it out…. (also read past the interview if you want to be on Nightdrive’s reduced guest list on the night of the show)
– NDM: Why Shit Robot and where did the Shit come from? We know it has something to do with a crappy drawing, what inspired the crappy drawing?
SR: The Shit comes from James (Murphy) mocking my raver background and he used to threaten to hang out with me in the DJ booth with white gloves on, doing a really “shit”, robot dance. Then it kind of developed into this character we used to joke about. We were spending a lot of time at Plant Bar at this time and Shit Robot was the guy who was always there, who everybody knew, but he never came with anybody, he was always alone. Then when myself and James were doing a party together, we had to call it Shit Robot and James quickly did the robot for the flyer and I’ve used that drawing ever since.
NDM: How did you conceptualize your live performance? Tell us about the light show and costume? Are there any visual artists that inspire the projections?
SR: Yeah, well again, the idea came from the Shit Robot character. I was thinking, what would Shit Robot do? I was imagining this idiot robot guy, trying to do his crappy version of the Daft Punk pyramid. There are some great shows out there, Daft Punk, Etienne De Crecy and other wicked LED shows, but Shit Robot could never afford that, so I wanted to make the “Shit” version. Charlie, from Syntheastwood did the visuals and came up with some great stuff, I just kept telling him, more crap, shittier!
NDM: When you DJ do you try to read the crowd and play accordingly or do you have a pre-made set? What platform do you DJ on? (vinyl, CDJs, or any particular software)
SR: Oh no, a pre-made set is a quick road to failure, I believe. You have to read the crowd. I mean, that’s your job as a DJ, If you have a pre-made set, you might as well just play a CD. I still like to play vinyl, but it just isn’t always possible these days. So often now, I show up and the turntables haven’t been used in months or they don’t work, or feedback. So, I always carry vinyl with me with a lot of it backed up on CD, just in case.
NDM: What’s been the craziest thing a Shit Robot fan has ever done?
SR: Oh, I don’t think I’ve seen anything too crazy. I do love it when people take it upon themselves to make homemade robot T-shirts, I love that.
NDM: Most memorable gig and what made it so memorable?
SR: That would have to be supporting LCD at Terminal 5 for their last few shows, that was amazing. I was really terrified, it was for sure my biggest show to that date, but more importantly ALL of my friends and peers were there and it was the first time any of them had seen the show, I was really nervous. It was the best though, Juan and Nancy got up on stage and performed with me, it was a load of fun. The crowd was great too, with them all being LCD fans, they were very open to another DFA artist playing. They were really great, I really felt like I was part of the show and not just another opening act that the crowd had to put up with before the act they came to see came on.
NDM: Who’s your favorite fellow DFA artist and why?
SR: Oh, how can I answer that, they are all my friends. James and Juan have played a huge part in getting Shit Robot to where it is today though, I couldn’t have done it without them. Plus their music has been hugely inspirational to me, but I think that goes for all DFA artists.
NDM: Favorite label that no longer exists?
SR: Network was a big one for me back in the day for the more ravey stuff. Then there’s 99, home to Liquid Liquid and ESG, that was an amazing label.
NDM: Now for a serious one …what do you think it takes to be a successful money-making artist theses days?
SR: HAHA, well, that’s almost an impossibility these days. It’s really hard to make money producing records now. I think the standard model now is to put out records, don’t expect any money from that and then DJ or play live to pay the bills. It’s become really difficult and I wouldn’t advise anybody to give up their day job for it. I’ve been really lucky in the sense that I never expected to make a career out of it. I just started DJing for fun, I’m a qualified Cabinet Maker, so I always had that to pay the bills. I think if you’re not expecting anything, it’s a lot easier. Then I’m very lucky that I have friends like James who has pushed me and helped me through the years.
NDM: How did you feel about your last Miami performance at the Vagabond and what do you anticipate this time around at Grand Central?
SR: Oh, that was a really great show, so much fun. I’m not sure what to expect this time round as my good friend Josh (JDH from Fixed) threw the last party during WMC, but I’m sure it will be great. I love visiting Miami and my good buddy Mike Sike lives there, so I’m sure it’ll be a throwdown.
NDM: And our typical 305 question…Favorite Miami related tv show, movie, personality, band, or performer?
SR: Too easy, Al Pacino in Scarface.
So there you have it! Now get psyched for the show (8/13 @ Grand Central) as it’s a seriously cool live performance with all sorts of visuals and a shitty robot. We’re not doing a ticket giveaway this time around (at least not yet) but you can avoid paying full price at the door if you take either of the following options:
1. Get presale tickets. If you buy them through this link you’ll be supporting Nightdrive without even realizing it: http://vor.us/3fd
2. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put you on our reduced list. Just please put “Shit Robot List” in the subject line of the email. You can include as many full names as you would like. Tell your friends!
Now some music:
Shit Robot – I Found Love
Shit Robot – Simple Things (Work It Out)
I rarely post unsolicited music submissions, most of them are usually alternative rock bands or really bad wannabe mainstream rap crap. It’s kind of our job to filter through the garbage and post the good stuff so most of the time we share what we find and not what finds us. However, I do try to go through our submissions inbox as frequently as possible to find that one needle in the haystack. Josh Widmann aka Tristes Tropiques actually sent me an email telling me he liked Vamos a La Playa which instantly got my attention and won me over (as did the Lévi-Strauss reference).
I took a listen to Tristes Tropiques and decided I not only wanted to play his song “Lejos” on my next Vamos radio show but, it’s also NDM worthy. He’s got a bunch of tracks on soundcloud that are almost there and also some that dance floor ready. Here’s his shpeal:
“Tristes Tropiques is a San Francisco based promoter, dj and composer. With origins in 1990s rave culture, Tristes Tropiques first became interested in music based on vintage synthesizers, drum machines, and samplers. When the early 2000s arrived, the post-punk and Italo Disco revival lured Tristes Tropiques further into electronic dance music, leftfield arrangements, and rhythmic experimentation. As the 2000s transitioned to the 2010s, Tristes Tropiques began assembling original compositions reflective of these varied influences while also working to toy with established genre boundaries.”
I recently asked a few friends what they’ve been listening to this summer and many responded with “chillwave”. I’m glad to know the genre isn’t considered passé yet although it is starting to sound a bit more disco and house influenced. Toro Y Moi’s most recent album and Casa Del Mirto‘s new LP “1979″ are perfect examples. Casa Del Mirto’s key member Marco Ricci (not the Baroque painter) has his roots in dance music and has previously produced a variety of dance floor friendly EPs starting in the early 2000s. His past releases seem to have been well received and have now given him the credibility to amalgamate the above genres. In other words he’s not some chillwave bedroom producer who decided to add disco elements to his music in order to keep up with the most current trend. Dude seems genuine and Casa Del Mirto’s debut LP sounds pretty legit.
It’s always good to hear that old college friends are making waves, especially in the music world. I was tipped off recently that my homie Julian along with his partner Ben, collectively dubbed Lovesport, were fashioning some tunes that caught the ear of pop singer/songwriter Little Boots. After a favorable mention on her Twitter page, the two New York City residents are getting a little bit of limelight. Their minimal Italo disco track Chase is a beautiful soundscape that is appreciated more and more with each listen. We’re pleased to have for you a pithy interview with the duo and an exclusive stream of their new remix of Boom by none other than Lo-Fi-Fnk. The track will be available for download via iTunes Spotify on August 1st.
Nightdrive: Tell us about yourselves, where do you come from and from what musical background?
Ben: Both of us met in New York through a friend about 4 years ago. Julian is classically trained in piano and got his college degree in music engineering from the U. I don’t have any real classical training besides sporadic guitar lessons so I guess I am self taught.
ND: How would you describe your music, is it primarily Italo disco? What is it about Italo that never gets old?
Julian: We’ve always strived for a Phil Collins meets Metro Area sound, you know that perfect balance between pop sensibility and the energy of dance music. As is usually the case with influences, something might have gotten a bit lost in translation.
Ben: As far as Italo disco goes, it never really gets old because it is from the future.
ND: Word on the street is that you got a head-nod-via-tweet from Little Boots. What has the response been?
Ben: The shout out from Little Boots and the overall response to ‘Chase’ has been beyond what we expected. The great thing about having music on the internet is that you can get it to people around the world and you don’t have to rely on a local scene. Through soundcloud we noticed we had a couple of plays in the Republic of Moldova, so if you guys are reading this, we would love to play a town near you
ND: What can we expect from Lovesport in the near future?
Julian: Well, our next track will have vocals from yours truly. We’re finishing that single now and are currently looking for the right label to put it out. Also on the horizon are some new remixes, including one for our friends Hey Champ! Stay tuned.
Lo-Fi-Fnk- Boom (Lovesport Remix)
“Luke Million is a fellow out of Adelaide, Australia and is the hectic keys player and synth wizard in The Swiss. He often starts his morning by bench pressing his Yamaha CP-70 and drinking 3 or 4 shakes of reel to reel tape.”
He’s part of the Future Classics family (Mitzi, Houses, Sidwho?, Jeremy Glenn…) and is somewhat of a who’s who type of character within the nu disco realm. His “Arnold” video homage is pretty rad in the true sense of the word: excellent and impressive as is the track. After watching the clip I regressed to pre-governor/pre-Terminator 70s body building Arnold appreciation mode. The B-side to the limited edition 7″ is “Sun Splash” which is also pure awesomeness and has been recommended to fans of Poolside and Metro Area.
Since his gift wrapped remix of Worse It Gets by Penguin Prison, I’ve managed to keep a close eye on DJ/Producer Fin Dow-Smith aka Starsmith. As a London based artist, the 22 year old co-wrote 4 number-one UK albums and has since been recruited by Vulture Music, a “French touch” label created by legendary producer Alan Braxe. However with a few hits and misses under his belt its been a reluctant interest at times. The release of his single,”Lesson One” puts an end to that uncertainty, cementing his status as a polished, well rounded artist you can count on. Listen for the Michael Franks vocal stabs throughout the disco cruising single.
The single doesn’t come out until Aug 22 so here’s a Penguin Prison remix…
If there’s a time and place I’ve been obsessed with for years I would have to admit it’s Club Med circa late 80s-early 90s. I actually went on a tropical Club Med getaway during that time where I fully memorized the lyrics and dance routine to Ottowan’s “Hands Up” at disco night and listened to Enya’s “Orinoco Flow” during evening sunsets. I remember buying the Club Med compilation cassette tape upon departure and housing it in my Walkman for months.
I heard the band Southern Shores a few weeks ago and immediately thought SOME of their tracks would fit great on one of those compilations (granted Southern Shores is a bit Chillwavey). Ironically, I went to Cascine‘s (record label) website to get more info on the band and they described the Southern Shores’ latest EP Atlantic as:
“…A series of songs with simple, resonant melodies. ‘Night Is Young’ pulses with scenes from the best party ever – a bonfire, sea foam on sand, dancing, watching the sun set slow and then rise too soon, until suddenly it’s not the fahrenheit or the far away that matters, but only being here, being now. Ethereal vocals wash over marimbas and steel drums on ‘Meridian,’ while ‘Take Me Anywhere’s’ exoticism is underscored by sweltering synths and the hum of jet engines. Atlantic brims with the promise of beautiful places left to explore, adventures yet to be had, and amazing people still to meet.”
Does that sound like a Club Med getaway or what?!
Who says dubstep and disco can’t get along! I was recently shopping for music (yes, I actually pay for it often) and the name Greg Wilson naturally caught my eye. What confused me was that it appeared in parentheses next to proper bro-step master Subvader. Additionally, DJ Ebar is mentioned all within the same song title. And thus we have an interesting evolution ending in a song that (in my humble opinion) kicks ass; an edit of a remix of an original. No download-ables today, but have a listen and appreciate the harmony and solidarity between two sonic worlds. And if you like, show some love with that Visa, Mastercard, or Amex.
Subvader- Each Time We Touch
Subvader- Each Time We Touch (DJ Ebar Nu Disco Rendition)
Subvader- Each Time We Touch (Greg Wilson Edit of DJ Ebar Nu Disco Rendition)