a little something Chris
Glover aka Penguin Prison sent for IM//UR
Poptastic is definitely something you could call native New Yorker Chris Glover's project Penguin Prison. You might have already read in a number of places about Glover's eclectic musical experiences, which a pre-'Keys' Alicia Keys has been name dropped in, amongst others. And speaking of name dropping, here's some more as the Penguin Prison project has remixed a plethora of hawt acts such as Ellie Goulding, Marina and the Diamonds, Jack Penate, Goldfrapp and Golden Silvers. Aside from these, there's plenty of Penguin floating around the interwebs, since he in turn has been remixed a helluva lot, has been blogged by all and sundry and really seems to be a pretty hard working and prolific type of guy.
Trying not to step into any gender stereotype/feminist/blahblah debate (though feel free to discuss), Penguin Prison is also what I would like to call 'real boy' pop. As in, Backstreet Boys and N'Sync kinda made 'girly pop' music like how Justin Bieber makes 'girly pop' music - or maybe in that case it's simply pre-pubescent. Billie made girly pop, and so did B*Witched (both so, so badly). Britney, of course, did amazing girl pop and I'm not going to neglect to name The Spice Girls. But to find strong examples of truly awesome 'boy pop', one has no choice but to look to the greats. And I mean like, consciousness permeating, world shattering, hysteric fan owning, larger-than-life greats.
I've cited Glover naming (quite often) one of the most enduring and epic pop acts to date in his interviews, and despite him being a huge Michael Jackson fan, I think Glover's music is touched far more with George Michael and has a little bit more of a Prince-ly swagger than a King of Pop moonwalk. But all three of these are examples of bonafide hit machines that have succeeded themselves to become icons: of music, fashion and personal power.
Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I get a little whiff of something quite like grand ambition from Chris Glover; just like the three male pop hall of fame alumni mentioned in the previous paragraph would have had. With his infectiously 'intelligent' pop tunes quite deeply permeating the interwebs of late, obviously, Penguin Prison's route is going to be quite different to his idols. In fact, his first live show is happening tonight in NYC's Mercury Lounge - we'll be waiting with bated breath to read/hear the reviews - so it will be another indicator of whether Penguin Prison's pop bubble will blow up or burst.
Either way, PP can birth a bonafide choon, no doubt. He's got the makings of a new, hip and young George Michael if he was from NYC (though not from Brooklyn) - in other words, pretty damn poptacular.
Hello Chris Glover. How are you? What is it that you've been doing and who have you been listening to today?
I have been recording my album, making remixes, practicing with my live band, walking around and wishing it were nice out. Some songs I have been listening to lately are: "I Need A Dollar" by Aloe Blacc, "Yellow Balloon" by Twin Shadow, "Soldier of Love" by Sade and the new Vampire Weekend album.
Can you tell us where you've come from, musically? Did you learn any instruments growing up? Were your parents encouraging..?
I have come from singing in a gospel choir as a kid, then to playing in punk bands, then to rapping, then a fake boy band, then what I do now. I learned the guitar starting when I was about 11 years old. Gradually I learned every other instrument. And yes, my parents were encouraging me, which is a good thing.
How long have you been kicking around in the music biz?
I suppose the first time I got anywhere into the music "business" was when I sent a demo to Q-Tip and he called me out of the blue and said he wanted to meet me. So I have been "in" the music business for about 5 years or so?!
What led you to this point?
Everything. Listening to Michael Jackson when I was 6 years old and then wanting to sing like that one day. Also, everyone that I know from growing up in New York helped to get me where I am, because we all learned from each other.
I've read you've tried numerous things, musically. What has made you keep at it? What led you to give dance-pop-production a shot?
I wouldn't even say that I have "tried" numerous things musically. It is just that I like almost every kind of music there is and always wanted to make almost every kind of music there is. I started making the music I make now based on friends of mine influencing me and the fact that I started making music with other people. I made a song called 'Golden Train' with Alex from Holy Ghost!, and that was the turning point where I said "I need to make all my songs more like this from now on."
When was it that you were recording in London? How did you like it?
I recorded in London the whole month of November and was just recording there for 2 weeks in March. I love London. It is similar to NYC but the only difference is that everyone talks funny.
Who's your favourite pop star? Or at least who do you think is the most ‘successful' pop star?
My favorite pop star of all time is obviously Michael Jackson. My favorite pop star and the most "successful" pop star of the moment is Lady Gaga in terms of everything besides her actual music.
You can choose which way you'd like to take this question: Biggest pet hate about pop music/biggest pet hate about music?
I suppose I don't like the rules that people think music is supposed to have. Sometimes I like to make music with people who don't make music because they don't know about all the rules and I like the things 'non-musicians' come up with better than real 'musicians'.
What's your day job if you have one?
I am not legally allowed to answer that question. No I'm kidding, but I will tell you after the interview is over.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a rock star.
Does it offend you that someone said that they hated your moniker and lots of people agreed? (Please feel free to retort here:)
It doesn't but a lot of people have said they think Penguin Prison is a really good name. I hated it myself for the first 5 months or so that I decided on it as my name. I think it rolls off the tongue pretty well and it is a funny image. What else can you ask for?
Would you rather the press trash talk about you or not at all?
I would rather that they not talk about trash at all.
Hopes for this year for Penguin Prison?
I will release an album and tour all over the place and have fun and make other people have fun.
Cool. I would totally wear a tshirt that said Penguin Prison (the cheesier the better).
Cool. I will hold you to that.
My favourite Penguin Prison track so far:
Here's the excellent and exotically rendered Luxury Living remix of 'Something I'm Not':
And for extra good measure, just cause you might as well have yet another 'Starry Eyed' remix, with Theophilous London spitting some verse on top. It's a good one too: