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Kevin Ritchie
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Escort bursts onto the stage at The Horseshoe Tavern Sat. Nov 10
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Singer Adeline Michèle turns the beat around

11.09.2012

As front-woman of New York disco orchestra Escort, Adeline Michèle is in the highly unusual position of having 16 band-mates.

“It’s an incredible feeling. My little-girl dream comes true every time I’m onstage with all of those people,” the singer and bass player says over the phone from New York. “I feel like it’s the kind of band that I was looking for, and it feels good every time we perform.”

In 2007, the Paris-born musician graduated from high school and hightailed it to New York City with her sights set on taking her career to the next level. She began performing as one-third of hip-hop soul trio Us3. Then a friend, the DJ and rapper Stimulus, introduced her to his college friends Dan Balis and Eugene Cho, who were looking for a singer for their nascent dance project, Escort.

The duo had won critical accolades a year earlier with their debut single “Starlight,” an effusive and sample-free instrumental disco number in the vein of Nile Rodgers and Chic or August Darnell that instantly stood out in a time when many nerdy New York producers and DJs were releasing disco re-edits — minus the diva vocals, soaring strings and basically every else that made the genre sound so gay — and great — in the first place.




After putting out a string of 12-inch singles, Escort released a self-titled debut LP in 2011, followed by a remix album in 2012. This fall, a five-piece version of the group is embarking on their first East Coast tour, which stops at the Horseshoe Tavern on Nov 10.

While the majority of acts that churned out singles at the height of the disco era, in the late 1970s, were fake groups that put a marketable face on producer-led studio tracks, Escort ambitiously set out to translate their sprawling studio arrangements for the stage — hence the necessity for 17 members.

“The fact that all the instruments that you hear on the record are on the stage separates us from how disco was back in the day,” says Michèle, who is also a part-time model. “We don’t necessarily think about disco so much all the time. We just play it.”

Escort’s sound is rinsed in influences from all manner of dance, from boogie and funk to Italo and Detroit techno. As such, the group’s concerts typically attract a fair amount of crate-digging DJ types in addition to the constituencies that gave rise to disco and stuck with it after it fell out of fashion in the early 1980s: black people, women and gays.

“[Disco] was a revolution in terms of everything,” Michèle says. “You can really hear the end of funk and the beginning of house, and it is right in the middle. Whoever was in search of something new and fresh just got into it. I do still see that in our audience. We have the same kind of crowd that loved disco back then but in a younger version, which is awesome.” —Kevin Ritchie



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