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INTERVIEW: Prison Escapee

1. How would you classify your music?

Electronic Rock would be the genre. I would classify it as emotional, melancholic music that uplifts with beats and piano.

2.Who are some of your top 5 musical influences

My musical influences for this project include but are not limited to… Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Thom Yorke’s solo music, Handsome Furs, Radical Face and Mogwai. I am also influenced by original scores for films and the use of found-sound. 

3. What do you want fans to take from your music? 

The main goal of my music is honestly for me to remember memories of my childhood and life in general for when I get older and my memory isn’t as great as it is now.

I would like people to be able to connect with nostalgia through my music and also understand that Jesus plays the biggest role in my life and the relationship I have with my family and loved ones is strong and fulfilling because of Him.

4.How’s the music scene in your locale? 

Los Angeles is basically the heaven of music scenes. You can see your favorite bands from all over the world and the local artists and bands are always progressing and pushing music forward. Some of my all-time favorite musicians were/are based here so it had a lot to do with why I relocated here from New York. My personal favorite part of the local music scene is everyone is trying to ‘make it’ in LA and that pushes me so hard to be the best musician I can be everyday. Also the landscape and environment of the city is extremely inspiring. For example my last album “Disappearing Mountaintop” was named after driving on the 101 everyday to work and as I came over a hill there is a mountain in the distance that slowly disappears behind another mountain and it somehow has the power to give me chills when this occurs. So beautiful.

5.​ What is the best concert you have been to?

The best concert I have been to was a head and shoulders above all the others and was at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland on July 8th, 2006. Broken Social Scene who is my favorite band of all-time opened for Belle & Sebastian who was my favorite band for years leading up to the show. I went with my best friend, Mat, and it couldn’t have been more fun. The show was a big turning point in my musical life because I was not yet creating music, and my taste was still very limited. At the show I met a girl named Samantha working at the concession stand and I wrote my phone number on the change she gave me. She ended up introducing me to so many amazing artists and bands I had no idea about. Some include Jose Gonzalez, Page France, Architecture in Helsinki, among many others. She was the first person to get me into Last.fm and music blogs, and I can’t thank her enough for that. As for the concert itself Broken Social Scene had the best performance I had ever seen from a band to this day. “KC Accidental”, “Lover’s Spit” and “Shampoo Suicide” were a dream come true to see live, and the musicianship of that band is second to none. As for Belle & Sebastian, considering they were my favorite band up at the time and a main catalyst on how my best friend and I connected, it couldn’t have been more beautiful and fulfilling. I’ll never forget “Sleep the Clock Around” live, it was the best song of the night and almost brought tears to my eyes. After the show Mat ended up sleeping in the car in a church parking lot and I stayed up all night on the phone with Samantha. Perfect. 

6. What do you like most about playing live?

My favorite part of playing live is letting loose. I feel like my voice actually sounds better live because it’s raw and I sing a lot louder than I do on recordings. I love the feeling of looking into the crowd at loved ones and seeing a smile on their face. I also really enjoy hanging out with everyone after the show and all of us being together. I feel like it brings the closest friends in my life together better than any other event because they are not only there to support my passion but also have a great time enjoying the music and going out after. I plan to play a lot more live sets in the future.

7. Is there a song on your latest CD release here that stands out as your personal favorite, and why? 

My latest single ‘Locket / Au Revoir’ is built around the “Locket” single so that’s definitely my favorite as far as this goes. I was inspired by The American Analog Set and their hushed electronic rock sound. I wanted to make the first single very minimal and melancholic. At its core it’s a love song, but one that details how it’s not easy to open your heart and much easier to keep it locked up. 

8. How have you evolved as an artist over the last year?

Over the last year I have been given some advice by an antique shop owner in Venice to have my best friend and bandmate Chris play guitar on more of my songs. In the past he would play on a couple but I’ve become more open to letting him try playing on all the songs and then I pick and choose which I will keep and I have been keeping around 3/4’s of them. I also have been working on making a longer album. My first two were 9 songs each and a little over 30 minutes, so I’m working on a longer release. 

9.If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a songhave dinnerhave a drink with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be

If I could meet and spend time with any band or artist (dead or alive) it would be Nick Drake. Unquestionably my favorite musician ever. It’s incredibly sad the way he died and how he never got to see the recognition his music has received over the years. All of his albums are perfect in my opinion and I feel like I would genuinely connect with him on some deep levels. Just listen to “Northern Sky.” 

10. What’s next for you?

I guess now would be as good of a time as any to break my next release. ‘Forever Hold Your Peace’ is my next full-length and will be out late this year. It’s such a common thing to hear that the latest album of an artist is their best, but my friends and I have thought that this was going to be the best Prison Escapee album since the beginning stages. It holds many of the common themes of my prior music… childhood nostalgia, my releationship with Jesus Christ and now includes themes of the breakup I went through almost a year ago. The album includes a song “Exits Exist” which I finished writing and recording the day before my ex-girlfriend broke up with me. It was a very telling moment in my musical career and life journey. It also includes the first ever Prison Escapee song “Not Enough Love” which I wrote and recorded in New York. You’ll hear a lot more lead guitar on the new songs, played by my best friend, and bandmate in my other band, Chris of Capital Unknowns. You’ll also hear more drums and some oboe.

I just want to thank everyone reading this and involved in publishing this interview for the opportunity to express my passion for music. God bless you all and I hope you are able to connect with my music on an emotional level and hopefully a spiritual level as well.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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