Escondido is Nashville-based artists Jessica Maros and Tyler James. The two released their first album, The Ghost of Escondido, in February 2013. The album, which has been described as "a washed out desert landscape steeped in American roots music," has received rave reviews.
Dispatch's Managing Editor Molly F. McGill chatted with the duo in preparation of their first Maine show, being held at Port City Music Hall on Weds., March 12. They are currently touring with Islands and Foam Castles.
D: You’ve gotten quite a bit of press lately—MTV’s Soundtrack, Vogue’s band of the week, Rolling Stone free download, even a shout out on Twitter from famed director David Lynch for your single “Black Roses.” Every artist hopes his or her album has a wide reach, but did you anticipate your first album to have the impact that it has?
Tyler James: Our goal was to make a record we loved, a record we would listen to. I try not to worry about what other people will think because it takes away from our ability to be ourselves. We work hard and treat people well, but the rest is out of our control.
Jessica Maros: I’m not sure. I don’t believe we were really thinking about it or had any expectations. Our goal was to make a record that we believed was great. To us, that’s all that mattered. Obviously we’re really grateful that it got some recognition since music is crowded with really great stuff at the moment.
D: You recorded it in a single day. A. Single. Day. Why? How? Whaaaa?
Tyler: It was months of preparation mixed with magic in the studio on the day of recording. It could have gone in a lot of different ways but I’m glad it came out like it did. We put a lot of work into the songs and arrangements beforehand but wanted to retain that initial instinct and wild spirit that comes when all the musicians are in one room together playing.
Jessica: Tyler did a lot of pre-production beforehand so it made the process a lot easier, but yeah… We tried to do that again and I don’t think we will ever be able to recreate that experience. Most of our favorite records were recorded live, maybe not in a single day, but it was our most affordable approach at the time.
D: You were both solo artists before becoming a duo in 2011. How have your individual music styles altered to fit your new band persona?
Tyler: It’s been refreshing to have a partner… it’s easy to overanalyze the writing and recording process and Jess helps me keep it simple. Not having to sing lead enables me to focus on the vibe. I’m over being the brooding singer-songwriter. Escondido is all about just having fun making music.
Jessica: We’re complete opposites. Tyler is a lot more methodical and I’m a lot more emotional. Musically it becomes this push and pull mixed in with our songwriting.
D: How have your individual styles contributed to form the sound you have now, a sound some call “desert sex?” And while we’re on that topic, what exactly is “desert sex?” It sounds… gritty. We kinda like that.
Tyler: Ha. Jess brings the sexy and I bring the vibe. My favorite music is from the 60s & 70s, but the songs we write have a 90s feel, so it’s fun to find a balance in the studio.
Jessica: We share a fondness for old Western books and films. We wanted our music to evoke that escapism and expanse. Falling in love with danger, and danger hurts, right?
D: What are you listening to right now?
Tyler: Really digging the new Beck album… also Lucius and the Australian-based band, Preatures.
Jessica: At the moment I’m really into Ty Segall & Mikal Cronin.
D: Your music brings us to a place of spaghetti westerns and cactus-spotted dirt highways, ablaze with a high-noon sun. Tell us about your ideal face-off outfit, and who would you want at your side, Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson, and why?
Tyler: If nothing else, some nice leather chaps. Hard to choose between Clint & Charles… whoever’s the fastest draw I suppose since I somewhat enjoy living.
Jessica: Ideal face off outfit: White boots… High-waist white cut-offs with a fringed-white crop top… Silver gun holster on my hip, silver crown on my head. I would have Clint Eastwood on my side. He owns a mountain.
D: What can concert goers expect at your Port City show on March 12?
Tyler: We’ll be playing a lot from The Ghost of Escondido along with a handful of new songs from the new record we’re currently recording. Our sets are pretty upbeat… we mix in some ballads but really just try to have fun. It will be our first show in Maine, so we’re really looking forward to it.
Jessica: Tits and bad language! Hahaha.