by Adelie Salagnac
Escort, 17-piece contemporary disco band from Brooklyn, New York, is about to make you spend one hell of a night at Underground Arts on January 29th. Famous for their hit “Starlight”, or their re-take of the classic “Cocaine Blues”, Escort is an incredible set of musicians that include founders and producers Eugene Cho and Dan Balis, as well as lead singer Adeline Michèle.
The very talented, yet still down-to-earth Parisian musician Adeline Michèle took the time to answer a few of our burning questions and talked about the band’s latest album and projects. Currently on tour promoting their last record, Animal Nature, this disco orchestra will make a stop here in Philly to show you how to party, the Escort way. What should you be expecting, you may ask? Adeline Michèle says: “To dance and have fun. Maybe get splashed by tequila or whiskey, water if lucky. If your neighbor steps on your feet, keep it moving, they’re just having a good time.”
Originally from Brooklyn, this multi-cultured and -faceted band is just like New York: a “colorful pot of international influences.” With members coming from all over the world and having various artistic backgrounds, Michèle says “we influence each other in terms of bringing different genres. Within the band everyone has different musical influences and preferences, and studied different genres like Disco, Jazz, Funk, Classical, Soul, Gogo, Dance, house… You name it.”
A lot has changed for Escort since the release of their first critical success, “Starlight”, almost ten years ago. Growing a dedicated following, experimenting, learning to work together as one group and taking advantage of everyone’s talent… Escort has come a long way since the creation of what was supposed to be a studio project. “We became a band,” says Michèle when reflecting on the last decade. “Escort was initially more of a studio project mainly based on production. The band came together afterwards. Show after show, everyone progressively took their place and the band shaped itself. Also, the music business changed. Disco re-became more popular, EDM had a rocket effect, dance music resurfaced.“
With the emergence of artists such as Daft Punk or Breakbot, disco is again finally getting the recognition it deserves. Real precursor, Escort is now surrounded by a vast array of competitors. Michèle knows better than to be bitter about it. “It feels good to know that we were there first! We think it’s a good thing because more people are ready to receive and appreciate it. Meanwhile, we have been working on it for years so our sound is ready and shaped. I call that good timing!“
The ultra-rad lover of life, music, and fashion, Michèle can be quite the disco queen. Well-known for rocking eccentric yet brilliant outfits on stage, she always puts on a great show. “[Disco’] was always a genre I was very attracted to,” she says. “I always loved divas like Donna Summer and Diana Ross. The dances, the outfits, the happy tone in the music… I only discovered it in retrospective since I was born in the late ’80s. I had to dig back and do a lot of research when I was looking for my sound. And when I found disco, it felt like someone put all the things I like in music into one big tasty gold pot.”
Today, more than ten years later and a dozen records and singles down the road, Escort is on a roll. With the release of the universally acclaimed Animal Nature in October 2015, Escort has blown everyone’s mind, taking it to the next level. We just can’t get enough of them!
“Our sound definitely evolved a lot from the multiple live performances we’ve done since the release of the first album,” admits Michèle. “Doing all these shows shaped our identity as a band. The more we got to know each other individually, the more we got to know who we were as a band. The writing chore of the band is 4-5 people. Eugene and Dan come up with the original production ideas and finalization of the song and in between Adeline, Dave Sharma or JKriv bring their input on the melodies or production.”
Furthermore, Animal Nature probably would have not been the same without the helpful hands of artists such as MNDR or Scott Hoffman. They showed Escort “how important melodies are. We were so impressed to experience the way they hear music and how quickly and precisely they can come up with an almost perfectly written melody on the fly,” says Michèle. “It was an amazing learning process.”
Animal Nature is stylish, catchy and compelling. But what makes Escort stand out from others is probably their ability to sound modern and relevant, rather than just retro. “We want to live with our time,” says Michèle. “There’s a lot about modern dance music that we love and want to be a part of. We’re inspired by older music but don’t want to imitate. Disco was so modern anyway that it sounded 2016 in 1975.“
A knowledge that might be intrinsically linked to some of the members’ background as DJs. “It comes in very handy when it’s time to write a set list,” Michèle says. “We try to design our live sets like a DJ set. Same for the album track list. It also provides us with a pretty wide knowledge of what’s happening in music. DJs have to stay up to date and research the underground stuff, old or new. It also helps for our dance music credibility. We can get direct feedback from fellow DJ friends.”
To get a glimpse of their live performances come on at Underground Arts this Friday, and get ready to have a good time. We promise you this disco party will involve a lot of dancing, fun, and madness. Be sure not to miss out on the classics “Barbarians”, “All Through The Night”, or “My Life”, which is Michèle’s favorite song off Animal Nature to play live. “There’s a special happy feeling that transpires from that song. I’m also always happy when it’s over because it’s so high I’m never sure I’ll be able to come out of it alive!”
Come show some love to Escort before they go on their crazy journey. “We have a west coast tour at the end of February. Hopefully a tour in Europe in the spring or summer,” says Michèle. “And maybe going back to Philadelphia because the people liked it and they want us back? We just love to party. We need more after parties. We haven’t received an invite for an after party in Philly yet, what’s up with that?!”