ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT — ESCORT

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BROOKLYN DISCO POWERHOUSE, ESCORT, IS TAKING IT BACK TO THE OLD SCHOOL WITH THEIR AUTHENTIC SOUND AND 17 PIECE ORCHESTRA. FUELED BY DJ/SONGWRITERS DAN BALIS AND EUGENE CHO, A WEALTH OF DISCO HISTORY TO BUILD UPON AND WIDESPREAD ADDICTION TO THE GENRE, ESCORT IS QUICKLY BECOMING A DANCE FLOOR STAPLE.
DIRTY TRACKED DOWN DAN AND EUGENE TO GRILL THEM ABOUT THEIR RICH SOUND, THEIR DISCO INSPIRATIONS AND COCAINE BLUES.
TEXT Paul Bruno

 

 

(DB: Dan Balis; EC: Eugene Cho)

DIRTY: WHEN WAS ESCORT FOUNDED? BY WHOM?

DAN BALIS: Eugene and I are responsible for this whole mess. We were DJing a fair amount at the time, and producing the odd bit of house music, and slowly it dawned on us that we were far more interested in making disco records than sampling them. Escort started roughly in late 2005 as a studio project — we’d write material and bring folks in to our respective studios to record the parts as needed.

But we became an actual band by accident. Our first single, Starlight, was a bit of an underground hit and folks started trying to book Escort to play live. Since there were no samples, it was assumed we were a band. But in reality, because we multi-tracked it over time, some of the folks who played “together” on that record had never even met one another. But we took a deep breath, took the gig, and decided to figure out how to make it work live.

 

D: HOW DID YOU GUYS PICK THE MEMBERS OF YOUR 17 PIECE ORCHESTRA?

EUGINE CHO: Dan and I both have a bunch of musician friends and it’s been pretty easy finding friends and friends of friends that can play all the parts. Slowly they have become core members of the band, helping with songwriting and arranging too. Rehearsals and hanging out backstage are like a house party. Everyone’s catching up and joking around. Since the shows are fun and the whole band really gets along we’ve been able to get a truly incredible group of musicians together. I really feel honored and blessed that we have such a great group of people performing our stuff. Almost all of the band members have their own projects going on. On any given night you can probably find members of Escort playing all over the city.

 

D: WE LOVE THAT YOU GUYS ARE HARKENING BACK TO AN INSTRUMENTAL DISCO SOUND, LIKE MFSB FOR INSTANCE, WITH THAT ENTIRE ORCHESTRA BEHIND THEM. WHO ARE YOUR DISCO / MUSICAL INSPIRATIONS & REFERENCES?

DB: MFSB is great, but we’re actually not as into the Philly stuff. Production-wise we love a lot of the obvious folks like Gino Soccio, Quincy Jones, Giorgio Moroder. Kid Creole and any of August Darnell’s projects are a huge influence for us because they’re the whole package — bitter, funny songs, great music, and the way Darnell’s sense of style pervaded the whole thing. A lot of our influences come from being DJs, listening to old mix tapes, and spending time on dance floors — tons of one-not-really-a-hit wonders filtered through DJs from Chicago, Detroit, and New York.

 

 

D: SOME MIGHT SAY THAT THE TRACK ‘COCAINE BLUES’ GLORIFIES DRUG USE, WHILE ESCORT CALLS IT “THE FUNIKEST PSA OF ALL TIME.” CARE TO ELABORATE ON THE CONTRADICTION? WHAT’S IT REALLY ABOUT?

DB: The provenance of our take on Cocaine Blues is a bit confusing. It’s our version of a Jamaican version of a turn-of-the-century blues song; and the Jamaican version relies on the groove from an American disco hit that was popular among soundsystem DJs. Some of the lyrics are from turn of the century schoolyard rhymes, “A knife, a fork, a bottle, and a cork, that’s the way we spell New York,” or “Chick in the car and the car won’t go, that’s the way you spell Chicago.”

EC: We’re just trying to put the facts out there. Don’t think of it as pro or against cocaine usage, but rather a song that provides unbiased knowledge so you can make a more informed choice.

 

D: ESCORT’S PRODUCTION VALUE IS PRETTY AMAZING – DO YOU GUYS PRODUCE YOUR MUSIC TO BE HEARD AT HOME OR ON HEADPHONES, OR IS IT MEANT TO BE MORE OF A LIVE EXPERIENCE?

EC: Its always going to be rooted in what’s going to work for the DJs. So we always check our mixes and masters on some club systems, and at the same time I always check and tweak our stuff according to how it sounds when I’m in my earbud world on the train. The live show stems from all that, and since its dance music it always comes off. Its funny that the live show was never really on our minds when we started producing our first few 12s, but it’s really taken a life of its own.

 

D: WHEN IS ESCORT’S NEXT GIG?

DB: We’re probably doing a gig at Williamsburg Music Hall in February with the Spank DJs.

 

D: WHERE CAN OUR READERS PURCHASE YOUR MUSIC?

DB: At their local vinyl shop, and of course, iTunes.

 

D: IS THERE AN UPCOMING ALBUM IN THE WORKS?

EC: There’s still some work to be done. We’ve been waiting on some handmade shakers from Peru that are really going to take our tracks to the next level. Hopefully the wait will be worth it!

 

D: WHAT’S THE BAND’S POINT OF VIEW ON POPULAR MUSIC THEN (70s / 80s), VS TODAY?

EC: I love 70s and 80s music and as much nostalgia I might have for it I’ll never be one to say that it was so much better back then. You can’t capture the feeling of your generation 30 years ago. Some things might still ring true, but at some point you’ve got to move on. Escort has very heavy influences from back in the day, but we really try to recontextualize it and make music that is still relevant today.

 

D: WHAT DOES ESCORT THINK OF KATY PERRY?

EC: I wouldn’t kick her out of the studio, in fact I would make her an array of tea sandwiches.

 

WEAREESCORT.COM
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ESCORT ON MYSPACE

 

 

 

 






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