Local nu-disco outfit Escort has been bringing their grooves to dance music enthusiasts for almost 15 years. Though the lineup has evolved over the course of the project’s lifespan, the band’s lead singer on their first two records, Adeline Michele, recently left the group to focus on her solo career. However, founding member Eugene Cho and Jason Kriveloff didn’t have to look far to find the perfect successor.
Nicki B, a Bronx native and former backing vocalist for Escort, has now assumed duties as the outfit’s lead vocalist. Despite these changes, Escort continues to deliver an unrivaled, funk-driven dance music experience, as evidenced by their latest two singles, “Ride,” and “City Life,” the latter of which includes contributions from disco legend Fonda Rae.
With a new voice at the forefront, the group is about to release their third album, City Life, and they’re celebrating with a Bushwick homecoming blowout at Elsewhere on Wednesday, April 17. We recently chatted with Nicki B and Jason Kriveloff about their new record, beginning their next chapter with a new front person, and Escort’s infamous live show:
After Adeline left the band, did you consider ending the project? How did you go about finding a new voice?
Jason: We didn’t consider ending the project. It certainly was a big shift in what we were doing, but at the same time, the music of Escort began with Eugene and a different producer, Dan Balis. They began developing the seeds for this project 20 years ago and the original music was a production project before it was about any one person in the band. Over time, Adeline became a big part of the sound of the group, but ultimately, we knew we wanted to continue to make this music and we would incorporate other people. We felt Nicki was a perfect choice to step up and take this role since she was already involved in the project.
How’d you decide to have Nicki assume lead vocals duties in Escort? Nicki, how’d they approach you?
Jason: The reason why we decided on having Nicki take on the role of lead singer is that she has her own crazy, unique presence as a performer, which is similar in some way to Adeline, but different and her own in many ways. It needed to be someone who brought their own thing to the project. She brings her own vibe and is a very talented performer.
Nicki: I’ve been singing background for Escort for about two and a half years. So, I absolutely love Escort and have had such a blast playing with them. It was such an honor to be asked to be the lead singer. I was very surprised and I wasn’t expecting it. It was very exciting because I love disco music. Escort operates basically with core members and then with an extended lineup that sometimes includes horn players and other backing vocalists. I also sing in Crush Club, so there are also a lot of overlapping musicians that play together within the disco and funk music community, so we’ve been working together for a bit.
What can people expect on City Life when compared with your last release, Animal Nature?
Jason: Animal Nature is more veered slightly away from the core stylistic things of Escort, such as classic disco and funk sounds. That’s what our love is and on Animal Nature, we did more modern electronic, nu-disco sounding and more straight-up modern dance stuff. On City Life, we’re getting back to the core of what we do. Not that Animal Nature was bad, it was just different. City Life has that more organic Escort feel that some of our earlier stuff did.
What was it like working with Fonda Rae on the title track?
Nicki: It was incredible working with her! We filmed the music video for the song and it was freezing that day. She toughed it out, though, and it came out great.
Escort’s live lineup sometimes includes horns and other backing vocalists, but you sometimes perform with just the core members. What will the band look like at Elsewhere on the 17? What’s your live show like?
Jason: We basically have two primary lineups. Right now, we primarily perform with either a four-person lineup or a six-person lineup. Our four-person lineup consists of drums, keyboards, guitars and/or bass, and Nicki singing. Our six-person lineup adds two backing singers. Our live show is very high energy. There aren’t any ballads! With the two backing singers, there are a lot of dance routines and movement that’s integrated into the show.
Nicki: It’s high energy! A lot of movement and dancing!
Spring is here in Bushwick, which means you can come out of hibernation and enjoy some gigs. Here are a few worth checking out:
Wednesday, April 10
Fruit & Flowers, Veronica Bianqui, Miranda and The Beat at Our Wicked Lady, 7:30 p.m.
The April 10 edition of Illegal Wednesdays at Our Wicked Lady will also double as the homecoming gig for local favorites, Fruit & Flowers. The Brooklyn four-piece recently returned from an extensive tour of the states that included multiple performances at SXSW in Austin and some dates in sunny California. Their return show also features the Brooklyn debut of Los Angeles garage-soul performer Veronica Bianqui, who is bringing her colorful ’60s inspired tunes to New York City for a string of local dates. She’ll be in town for a little over a week with an additional performance scheduled for April 18th at Berlin in Manhattan. Arrive early so you don’t miss out on the sweet vintage R&B and Soul sounds of Miranda & The Beat and Illegal Mezcal specials all night long!
Thursday, April 11
Beverly (solo), Red Ribbon, No Swoon, Soraya Silene at Secret Project Robot, 8 p.m.
Drew Citron of Beverly has been keeping busy as of late with her new project Public Practice, a Bushwick-based post-punk outfit that also features former members of WALL. Fans of Beverly’s poppy sound will have the opportunity to see Citron perform a stripped down set on Thursday night at Secret Project Robot. This great lineup also features San Diego’s Red Ribbon, who currently are in the midst of an extended U.S. tour, and locals No Swoon, who just finished recording their debut album last month. Expect to hear some new songs in addition to their string of strong singles from last year. Arrive on time, as you don’t want to miss opener Soraya Silene!
Friday, April 12
Yaasss, Flasyd, Cindy Cane at Alphaville, 8 p.m.
Local glam rockers Yaasss channel the glitz, chaos, and edginess of prominent New York-based bands of the ’70s and ’80s, including The New York Dolls and The Cramps. After gigging steadily around the city for quite some time, the four-piece is dropping their debut EP, So Down To Go Down, on Friday night at Alphaville. The celebration will also include performances by Flasyd, a relatively new post-punk sounding group that just shared five songs on their Bandcamp in late January. Rounding out the bill is Cindy Cane, the dark, vampire-themed solo project of The Coax frontman Tom Lescovich. If you missed Cindy Cane at their successful Baby’s residency last month, make sure you’re at Alphaville on Friday night.
Saturday, April 13
Mary Vision, Heavy Birds, Chillemi at Sunnyvale, 8 p.m.
The Mary Vision recently celebrated their one year anniversary as a band and they’re showing no signs of a sophomore slump. They’ll bring their down-tempo, swirling psychedelic tunes to Sunnyvale this weekend with their friends, Heavy Birds, who are wrapping up work on the follow-up to their mesmerizing debut album, Drag. Openers Chillemi will get the night going with their first live performance since last Summer.
Images courtesy of mentioned venues and bands.
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