Nashville-based duo Escondido, comprised of singer-songwriters Jessica Maros and Tyler James only recently came onto the scene with the release of their debut record, The Ghost of Escondido, but the two have been playing music for quite some time now– just not together. That all changed, though, when James and Maros came together one day for a sessions recording, and James overheard Maros playing a song on an acoustic guitar (a song that would end up being "Rodeo Queen," off their new record). It’d be easy to say the rest is history, but really it was. The two joined together and in almost no time had written an entire album worth of material and realized that there was a chemistry and spark worth pursuing.
This collaboration led to the creation of The Ghost of Escondido, a strong debut from a band that knows what its up against coming from the rich history of Nashville music. However, they’re already beginning to make a name for themselves, and Glide Magazine had the pleasure of sitting down to speak with them about their history, what they have planned for 2013 and some of the craziest stories from tour yet.
How did the two of you meet? Had you been playing music together before? Tyler: We hadn’t even met before Jess showed up at my house to do group vocals on a session I was producing for our mutual friend Leanne Ford. She was playing a song quietly and I recorded it while everyone was in the other room. We started pre-production on our record only a few weeks after that.
Tell me about the name "Escondido." Where did that come from?
Tyler: It’s a town in Southern California that means "hidden"… but the only reason I grabbed it was for it’s Southwestern aesthetic. I like solid noun band names that hint at what the music sounds like.
What were some of your earliest musical influences- first as budding musicians, and then as a collective band?
Tyler: I’ve always loved 60s & 70s stuff… anything from soul to soft rock from that period. Dylan, Paul Simon, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Bill Withers, Shuggie Otis, Randy Newman, Sly Stone, Tom Waits. I used a lot of that backdrop while fleshing out the Escondido record but brought in the Morricone type stuff for arrangement and sonic inspiration.
Jessica: As a budding musician I grew up in the Pacific North west so I was into 90’s grunge. I listened to Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Tripping Daisy, Weezer, Mazzy Starr… After realizing my voice didn’t resonate with heavy grunge I moved to Nashville and had the vision. As a collective band, we listen to Neil Young, Dylan and my favorite Nancy Sinatra.
You recorded your debut album in one day. What was the motivation behind that?
Tyler: A lot of my favorite records were made like that. Dylan would get the best session guys but keep takes where they were just messing around. We did a couple months of putting together the songs and arrangements so that when we were in the studio we could just knock it out and not over think it.
Jessica: Also It was cheap and we thought why not? I didn’t know what I got myself into but we ended up doing around 3 takes of every song and then chose the best one. I now feel like I sing the songs better and we play them better so the live versions have their own great thing.
What are some of your favorite things about Nashville as a music hub? And, on the other side of that, is it difficult to stand out? How do you make a name for yourself in a town that’s so focused on music already?
Tyler: I love that people are here to write better songs, make better records, learn from all the greats. I’ve been here 13 years and I was worried that our scene would suffer with the influx of bands lately but I’ve only seen it strengthened. I’m glad I got here when I did… it’s probably hard to get even a coffee shop gig if you’re new to town.
Jessica: Like Tyler says, it pushes us to be a better musician. We are constantly challenged on a daily basis. Nashville keeps you humble. Its also an environment of tremendous respect. The community of friends support what you do cause everyone does it. We can put our heads together and talk about the struggle of an artist and your friends understand that struggle. That sacrifice. Making a name for yourself is hard here. You can have buzz in another city but Nashville will be the last one on board. Everyone is good. I would tell kids that are coming to Nashville today to be true to who you are as artist. Don’t let anyone change you. Have a vision and don’t be afraid to see it through.
What would a dream collaboration be for you in the future? Think both small and big…!
Tyler: I’d love to collaborate with producers like Glen and Ethan Johns, Buddy Miller, Nigel Godrich, Elliot Mazer.
Jessica: I would love to collaborate with Jon Brion, Emmylou harris… if Neil Young did a duet with me I’d pee my pants. I’d also love to write with Billy Corgan….maybe do a record with him.
What does the rest of 2013 hold for you?
Tyler: Promoting this record so as many people hear it as possible. Playing at SXSW this month, finishing a lot of our new record before heading back to west coast in April for Coachella and some other shows… and hope to hit up the east coast/midwest by this summer.
Jessica: We wrote our second record and we’re about to release the video for "Black Roses". The director Erik Lang did a wonderful job capturing all that we are, so that’s what’s next for us.
What’s one reason someone should come out to an Escondido show?
Tyler: Because we’re just like them… trying to create the best work possible and having fun while we’re at it. And our band is killer.
Jessica: To not be hassled by daily struggles for a few moments. Our music is fun and chill.
Any wild, unbelievable tour stories yet?
Tyler: Too many really… crazy stuff happens any time you’re on the road for more than a few days. We partied with Axl Rose at some house in Bel Air a couple weeks ago… was somewhat underwhelming (laughs)
Jessica: Besides Tyler running around naked in the desert? Erik wanted Tyler to swim in the Salton Sea for our music video… google that place to find out whats up.
Check out Escondido’s official website for more information, and find them on Facebook and Twitter as they continue to tour the US behind their debut record The Ghost of Escondido.