Interview: Eugene Cho of Escort

sensible_reason_2013-TwitterSensible Reason got the chance to sit down with Eugene Cho, one of the founding members of Brooklyn based live disco orchestra Escort. Fresh off of their debut at the Big Up music festival, Sensible Reason was keen on getting to know the band a little better.
How did you grow to be a 17-piece band? What signified that you were at the right number of members? (i.e. when were you like, “okay this is enough people”?)
We recorded the song Starlight in the studio one instrument at a time. Then when we released it, the word on the street was that we were this crazy live band that could pull that altogether on stage. Which we never even came close to doing. So the people doing the PS1 Warm Up series offered us a show, which was an undeniable offer. So we called everyone that played on the record and had them play it live. We never set out to create the spruce goose of bands. And now we’ve realized that it’s not about that. We’ve played a string of shows recently as a 5 piece, and people that have seen the big band were skeptical at first, but would come up to us all sweaty after the show saying that lineup is just as good a time.
How does that big roster give Escort an edge?
When we do have the full band it is definitely a spectacle, and something that is pretty rarely seen nowadays. The best part is that it’s just a super fun party on and off the stage. We can go to a restaurant and order everything on the menu or play full 5 on 5 basketball with benches and coaches.
 What kind of challenges does it present?
At first it was a logistical nightmare, and the travel expenses were outrageous. And, sadly, that still is the case! So we have been forced to pull it back, but in the end it’s about the songs and the music, and to be perfectly honest, we can still get the point across in a very real way with a smaller band.
What unites you all (beliefs, passions, desires, etc.)?
Everyone in the band is incredibly passionate about music and their own instrument. We are also very serious about food. One of my favorite memories was going eating tapas in Spain. Sharing plates and talking about music is what it’s kind of all about.
What do you love about calling Brooklyn your home?
NYC is the champion of the world and Brooklyn is hands down the best borough. Don’t believe anything else.
You and Dan Balis do the majority of production; how does that process play out? Do other members contribute?
Our writing process isn’t really atypical. We do tend to pour over every detail, but we truly believe it’s always for the best. Some ideas and concepts may come together quickly, but usually it’s a painful, drawn-out process fueled by Stella and delivery. Other members have been contributing more and more, and on the next record it’s shaping up to look like a lot of the songs will be much more collaborative. It just took a while for the band to develop a solid musical identity and for other people in the group to fully grasp it. Now that’s the case there’s been a lot more going on with everyone else. Its fun.
What are inspirations for your music, (musically and non-musically)?
My ultimate goal with music is to create something that highlights a shared life experience so well that it enhances people’s understanding of it. One song can paint a picture of a feeling or moment that we all have at some point in our lives that can act as the soundtrack to that moment, adding a perspective that makes everything clearer, better or more dramatic. That’s what I call a perfect song. “For Once in My Life” is a perfect song, those words work as poetry set to music, you can’t simply speak them, they have to be sung. And when you hear it you know exactly what he’s talking about, exactly what that feeling is, and it might even be more euphoric than you ever remembered.
What do you hope to evoke with your studio recordings?
             Fun dancing good times.
What do you hope to evoke with your live performances (if anything different)?
             Sweaty fun dancing good times.
 What do you like (or not like) about playing to crowds at music festivals?
It is tough being so distant from the crowds. In clubs it can be a really inmate experience, where they are hearing the sounds actually coming off the instruments, almost as loud as what’s coming out of the P.A..  But at a festival it’s a whole different beast. Everything feels a little bigger and more dramatic. It’s like driving a bus, but it can be an extremely powerful thing. On the other hand, seeing a crowd of thousands of people sway their hand in the air and hearing that roar is fucking fantastic.
What kind of energy or vibe did you get from the crowd at the Big Up?
Loved the crowd at the Big Up. From beat 1 they were moving and having a great party. Super enthusiastic. We actually saw a lot of people from that come down to NYC a few weeks later, which was great.
What’s one thing you have to keep with you while you’re on the road?
               Photos of my girl.
What’s one disco track you wish you had written yourself?
There But For the Grace of God Go I.
Who would you love to remix and vice versa?
We would love to remix Arcade Fire. It would be great to have Mozart come back from the dead and do a remix for us.
 What is your favorite venue to play while on the road?
Anywhere in Portugal.
What is your favorite thing about being on the road (A specific food you only get on the road, something you do as a band to pass the time etc)?
We have enough down time to watch ridiculous movies like Sharknado.

Greg Sarafan

Greg Sarafan founded Greg Sarafan’s Sensible Reason in 2007. He started blogging for HeadCount in January 2011. Soon after he organized and ran a small but successful charity festival called Binghamtronica to benefit HeadCount and OxFam America. He is a Team Leader in NYC as well as Artist Relations representative for HeadCount. Greg has BAs in political science and art history from Binghamton University. Greg has a J.D. as well as a Certificate in Intelectual Property, Media and Privacy from Brooklyn Law School . Greg also volunteers for OxFam America as a Concert Outreach Coordinator. In 2009 Greg presented his theory of Artistic Stylistic Transmission in the Royal Mughal Atelier at an art history symposium at Ohio State University.

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