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article imageNew York's Penguin Prison talks about his new album Special

By Adrian Peel     May 13, 2015 in Music
The singer, songwriter, DJ and electropop dynamo has just released his second LP, Lost in New York, and very good it is too. Digital Journal asked him a few questions over the telephone.
It may surprise you to know, dear reader, that Penguin Prison, a great alias though it is, is not this thirty-something musician's real name. Chris Glover put out his first (self-titled) record under this memorable moniker four years ago and since then, he has made EPs, remixed songs by artists such as Lana del Ray, Kylie Minogue, Maroon 5 and Churchill and performed at some of America's biggest music festivals.
Earlier this year, the seemingly self-effacing star strutted his stuff at South by Southwest and then at Coachella last month. How did he get on? "Coachella was cool," he replies. "I sang a song that I made with RAC called 'Hollywood' during his set at Coachella and I also did some DJing around the event."
"South by Southwest is always an interesting experience; I'd done it a couple of times before," he continues. "It's a little weird because you have to run around all over the place and play a bunch of shows on the same day, and you don't get a soundcheck. But it's a really exciting atmosphere to be in."
I asked Chris to tell me about his new album, released last week. "It's called Lost in New York and I wanted to just make an album that was a little more organic than my last one. I had that in mind when I was making it to have it translate from the recording studio to the stage a bit better than my first album...
"As far as the title, I came up with that after the album was done. It just popped into my head and it made sense in the context of the songs because when I listened to them all together, it painted a picture of someone that was a little bit unsure of the city that he grew up in.
"I was born and raised in New York and I still live in New York. I've been a bit confused lately as to whether I should still be here, or what the status is with this city in the year 2015. I see a lot of people writing 'Why I'm leaving New York' about how the city has changed and why they're moving away from it.
"I completely agree with a lot of what they're saying, but in another way I still can't really bring myself to get that down on it, or leave, because it's all I know and I still think it's the place where I want to be."
Chris's new video is for his latest single "Never Gets Old" and features his 90-year-old grandfather in a starring role (the other songs off the new record to have been released as singles are "Calling Out" and "Try to Lose" - "Show Me the Way," the artist informs me, will probably be next). What would be his pick of the album's 11 tracks?
"I like 'Show Me the Way' a lot - I think it's a good jam! That's definitely a good way to describe it... I made that with RAC and we've collaborated a lot in the past. Like I said, I did a song with him called 'Hollywood,' which was on his album, and he's done a remix for one of my songs, 'The Worse It Gets,' and we've performed together a lot of times, so I think people see us as kind of meshing well together."
When I listen to Penguin Prison's music, I detect a distinctly '80s vibe, which to me having grown up in said decade is a definite bonus. "In terms of that, I mean the name of the band is Penguin Prison, which is sort of a half and half mixture of funny and serious," explains Chris, a former student at the same New York-based performing arts school as Alicia Keys. "A penguin is funny and prison is not funny.
"That's my mindset when I make music - I want to make something that's half funny and half serious. I don't really listen to '80s music very much... In terms of the recording, I'm more into the '70s; how they actually recorded sounds, like the drum sounds and the guitar sounds.
"In terms of the '80s, I guess the things that I listen to are just random songs here and there, like Hall & Oates. A lot of people have said the song 'Calling Out' sounds like Hall & Oates, and I did a cover of a Lionel Richie song 'All Night Long.' I like Talking Heads for sure, too...
"As far as bands that are around nowadays are concerned, I think Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem are the types of bands that I see myself in the same world as."
The video for "Never Gets Old" is released today.
Lost in New York is out now and can be purchased on iTunes.
For more information on Penguin Prison, the brainchild of Chris Glover, go here.
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