Brooklyn’s Escort announce London show27 March 2013
“Escort have ascended to the top of neo-disco acts…with the consummate skill of the kind of crack big
bands that were everywhere in the last 1970s” – Pitchfork
“Disco never died. It was just hiding out in Brooklyn” – Rolling Stone, Albums of The Year
“New York’s best live band” Time Out
“The best disco you’ve ever heard” Jake Shears, Scissor Sisters
Brooklyn’s finest disco orchestra Escort return to the UK for just the second time at London’s Jazz Cafe on May 5. The New
Yorkers’ self-titled debut album received extensive critical acclaim in the US last year, spanning Pitchfork, Spin, and even making
Rolling Stone’s prestigious Albums of the Year list.
Escort is big. Literally. Founded by producers Eugene Cho and Dan Balis, and fronted by striking Parisian lead singer Adeline
Michèle, this sometimes-seventeen-strong disco orchestra have played with everyone from Arcade Fire and Beirut to avant-
classical luminaries Alarm Will Sound. Together, the band’s sound mixes lush, classic dance with crisp, modern pop, as at home
alongside their disco luminaries (Chic, Earth Wind & Fire) as they are in a world post-LCD-Soundsystem.
Escort have quietly grown in numbers and ambition since 2006, when Cho and Balis met in an electronic music class at Vassar
College and began making house singles. They quickly sought after a more organic sound (“we wanted to make records in the
spirit of the old ones we were sampling,” says Balis), though the name Escort has less than glamorous origins: it came to Balis
when “taking my cat to the vet in Ridgewood, Queens, and noticing that my carrier was called a ‘pet escort.'” Starting out, the
duo called on the favours of friends and fellow musicians, bringing players in one at a time and layering tracks to achieve the full
sound they knew so well from their box of disco 12-inches. They were introduced to model, singer (and sometime-bass-player)
Adeline through a mutual friend, who had just moved from Paris to New York, and was then fronting a hip-hop soul group.
As a few early Escort singles took off online – Pitchfork listed the Muppets-featuring ‘All Through The Night’ in the Top 50 Videos
of the 2000s – a problem presented itself. Escort had been only a studio creation; its multitude of members had never all been
in the same place at the same time. Bar the likes of Chic and Kid Kreole, in the economically depressed late ‘70s of New York, big
disco bands didn’t really play live. Yet as the prospect of translating their taut, expansive sound into a live act became clear –
and another recession struck – Escort made no compromises. The music would be played by as many people as possible, and as
faithfully as possible. The band’s heady live show has since toured all over America, Europe and saw a breakout performance at
South By Southwest.
Escort’s self-titled debut album is steeped in the venerable tradition of clubland’s holy trinity (New York, Chicago, and Detroit)
but takes further inspiration from the jazz of Billie Holiday (‘A Sailboat in the Moonlight’) to the sardonic sensibilities of Ian Dury.
Opener ‘Chamelon’ is a three-act play about the French serial impostor Frederic Bourdin, set to a beat that’s equal parts ‘Thriller’
and the Tom Tom Club. ‘Make Me Over’ and ‘Why oh Why’ are more pulsating and electronic, pointing to the lost possibilities of
another era. And the thrilling ‘Cocaine Blues’ loosely reinterprets the 1976 reggae classic by Dillinger into the sort of groove that
has led to Jake Shears from Scissor Sisters describing Escort as “the best disco you’ve ever heard.” He might just be right.
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