Los Angeles – With 2017 just around the corner, annual “Best Of” lists will soon begin to circulate, and while we here at Best New Bands have begun reflecting on the bands that have shown brightly this year, it is clear Maryland-born, Brooklyn-grown synth-pop trio Prinze George has been staking its claim as one of the most promising acts of 2016. The band’s debut record, Illiterate Synth Pop, features ten stunning tracks and demonstrates the group’s penchant for synths and story-driven lyrics. Recently, Best New Bands covered Prinze George’s phenomenal L.A. show, at the Troubadour, where the band’s songs came to life with Naomi Almquist’s gentle vocals complimenting Kenny Grimm’s wondrous guitar riffs and penetrating keyboards, as well as Isabelle De Leon’s infectious drum rhythms. Best New Bands caught up with Naomi to discuss all things Prinze George.
How did Prinze George come into being?
Prinze George was a side project that Kenny and I started experimenting with while the three of us were still living in Maryland and playing in our old band. We were impatient with how long it was taking to record songs in our old band, especially having to wait for three other people to submit parts and coordinate multiple schedules. We also liked that it was electronic pop, and honored my voice a lot more than our rock music did. We moved to New York and released the first two singles on Soundcloud, the second of which was “Victor”… [it] did well online and it spread, so that was the beginning of industry interest in what we were doing and the beginning of our search to build a team.
Your debut album covers many different themes, specifically geared toward this young generation. How much did your own life experiences influence the creation of this album?
Well, I write the lyrics, so my life experiences dictate the music in that sense. Most of the time, I write about what I know and about the people around me. I also like to play and dream and travel [to] places in the music that I can’t get to in real life. It’s been a tough couple of years for all of us in different ways, and music is the place that we all go to heal.
The instrumentation and melodies in your songs are accented with deep, moving lyrics. Do the lyrics ever precede the music in crafting a song?
Thank you! And yes. I have lyrical ideas constantly popping into my head. Usually, they’re just fragments, but I write them down on the closest piece of paper I can find. I leave a paper trail pretty much wherever I go, so there are napkins and notebooks with ideas scribbled on them, all over the place. If there is no paper, I make notes in my phone. The good fragments I develop and build into full songs with Kenny and Isabelle later on. Or I just write something on the spot. It depends.
What would you like both fans and those unfamiliar with your band to recognize about the music of Prinze George?
Our goal is not to tell people what to take from the music. It’s just to encourage people to listen to it and keep an open mind. If they like it, awesome. If they don’t, it’s not going to deter us from continuing.
Prinze George did a cover of “A Dream of You and Me” by Future Islands. What led you to cover that particular song?
We really enjoy covering songs that we love and making them our own. We really liked the way that song sounded stripped down, and it came together pretty quickly – so we went for it. Future Islands also got their start in Maryland, and we are Maryland strong so it felt right… and they listened to it, so that was pretty cool because we love them!
What has been your favorite venue for putting on a live show?
We all have different favorites, but lately I think we’d agree on a show we just played in Salt Lake City at Kilby Court. The venue was in a garage, so it felt like a house show. We used to play house shows in DC, in our old rock band, so it felt comforting to play in a space like that. The sound was also really good because it was indoor/outdoor and the crowd was singing the words. The stage was pretty small, so we were close to each other onstage and to the audience, which made it really intimate. We also love playing at The Grog Shop in Cleveland. It’s one of our favorite places to play.
What bands do you listen to regularly?
The National, Future Islands, Band of Horses, Beach House, Little Dragon, Fleetwood Mac, Blink 182, Daft Punk, etc. We listen to a lot of different kinds of music. We try to change it up in the car.
When you go into the studio as opposed to a live venue, how is the energy same, and how is it different?
Everyone has individual experiences in the studio. People record their parts separately in order to craft the clearest record possible, because it makes it easier for the engineers to have control in the mixing/mastering stages. To get the very best takes on a recording, you’ve got to be in a controlled environment in order to access something really specific emotionally and sonically. You have to go to the place that you were in when you wrote the song and capture the feeling and the sound. Live, its completely different because there are so many more variables that affect a performance. There’s the crowd, the sound in the room, the space, and then there’s the three of us. Live is less about control, and it’s less private; it’s more about feeling and connecting to each other and to the audience.
Lastly, what is the band’s vision for the upcoming year?
We’ve been on the road for a couple months, and we are really excited to get some more writing done and release more music. We are sitting on a lot of unreleased stuff right now, so it would feel good to release something new. We would also love to do more touring, especially internationally.