Escondido is Nashville-based artists Jessica Maros and Tyler James. You can hear their music on shows such as HBO's Girls and CONAN. Following tours with the likes of Lord Huron, The Lone Bellow, and Wild Cub, the duo released their latest album, Walking With A Stranger, this past February.
Q: For people who don’t know you, who is Escondido?
A: [Tyler] We are two longtime Nashville songwriters who met while I was recording a mutual friend at my place 4 years ago. Jess was there to sing some harmonies but she started playing one of her own songs on my couch while everyone else was was in the kitchen. I was looking to start a spaghetti-western inspired project and I immediately knew she would be perfect for it... I think we decided to make a record together the next day. I wrote in our first bio that we wanted our music to sound like "Clint Eastwood playing pop songs at one of the honky-tonks town" and I can still stand by that :)
Q: What inspires you?
A: [Tyler] Inspired people inspire me. Family inspires me. Solitude inspires me. Making records & art inspire me.. creating something beautiful and permanent out of nothing. Touring inspires me because i get to do all my loves at once.. see the world, drive the open road, hike some national parks, meet new interesting people every night, late night bars and front porch hangs, play music with my friends, get high on life and try to help people do the same.. all that cliche Kerouac wanderlust stuff ya know?
[Jess] I’ve been getting into philosophy lately. I like seeing how people react to things and their life choices and stories. I think people in general inspire me, we're all more alike than we think we are.
Q: Tell us about your new album and what it’s about.
A: [Jess] Walking with the Stranger is about losing site of someone you know . That moment you realize the person closest to you is now a stranger, this record dives deep into the reactions of ones journey of that.
[Tyler] We spent 6 months wrestling this thing down in my bedroom studio.. quite a departure from having tracked our first record live in one day. The new record has our cosmic southwestern aesthetic but it's a bit more layered and aggressive since we had more time to nerd out. Jess and I have a pretty crazy relationship and i think some of the more personal songs reflect that. I'm just happy we survived it and came out on the other side stronger.
Q: What do you hope to create and do through your music?
A: [Jess] I would love for people to listen to our music and have the perfect soundtrack to solitude or a vacation of the mind, an everyday escape. Thats what music does to me.
[Tyler] I try to create music that inspires me and inspires others in one way or another. It's lovely and satisfying to have your art deemed 'important' by a jury of your peers but most times - connecting with someone in a personal way holds more weight.
Q: You guys have rad style. What’s the inspiration and how would you describe your style?
A: [Jess] I would describe our style as southwestern vintage. I really love to play with bright colors and crazy rhinestones and bolo ties but not in the way you would imagine them to be. Tyler has a natural 70s look and I’m lucky he lets me dress him! I like to be feminine but have an edge… I don’t know… I dream of ideas all the time.
[Tyler] I'm just trying to not look homeless.
Q: Jess, we heard you are also a clothing designer. What’s your favorite piece you’ve ever made?
A: [Jess] My favorite piece I ever made was an Oscar dress I made. The fabric was from thailand and I hand dyed it silver, it was just beautiful, truly a bucket list moment for me.
Q: How has your music evolved over the years?
A: [Jess] I think Tyler’s production has grown and our songwriting has evolved and gotten a lot better. Its hard to tell, when you’re in it, you just go with the creative flow. I don’t ever want to over think it.
[Tyler] Yeah i think we've grown as songwriters and l've learned to go with my gut instead of being worried about what other people will think. I've also listened to a stupid amount of Jeff Lynne since our band started so we'll most likely grow into ELO cover band.
Q: What is the most challenging and the most rewarding thing about being an artist/musician?
A: [Jess] I’d say the most challenging thing is making a living and taking care of an entire band. It may look like we're having the time of our lives but there is a lot of sacrifice that goes into making music and touring. I’m proud that we’ve been able to keep it up for this long but its harder to make people pay for art these days, so we have to think of other alternate ways to make money. I think the most rewarding thing is when people take notice of your art.
[Tyler] The most rewarding is just seeing people digging our music wherever we go. The most challenging is navigating the industry we're in and learning how to adapt to the ups and downs of it... there's no stability or predictability whatsoever.
Q: Who do you admire?
A: [Jess] I admire any musician or artist out there that works hard and dedicates their lives to their art.
[Tyler] I admire the way president Obama has carried himself throughout the last 8 years. I know a lot of folks take issue with some of his positions but i for one am interested to see where he puts his efforts post-presidency.