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Thursday, 20 January 2011 12:26

Remix deluxe: An interview with Penguin Prison

Remix deluxe: An interview with Penguin Prison
Written by Rob Levy

Chris Glover is a Manhattan-born musician and remixer who has risen to prominence via his Myspace page and sterling reviews from various indie blogs. Two of his songs, "Golden Train" and "Animal Animal" became indie radio darlings almost overnight and Glover’s remix work for artists like Goldfrapp and Marina & the Diamonds vaulted him into the big leagues of remixers for hire.

He has recorded an EP and toured under the moniker of Penguin Prison. His initial success has made him a person of interest in the changing electronic music community.

Influences like Prince, Q-Tip and the Jackson 5 give his recordings a sprinkling of soulful funk that moves him away from the traditional blip-blip and loops of the electronic music genre. His music combines R&B vocals with new wave synths and snappy percussion.

Being offered a high-profile opening slot for Girl Talk has helped him bring his music to the masses.

I spoke to Penguin Prison after his opening set for Girl Talk at the Pageant on January 18.

Rob Levy: From listening to your records and seeing the live show it is obvious that you are a mult-instrumentalist. How many instruments can you play?

Chris Glover: I think I can play just about any instrument. If I can just pick it up and look at it for a second then I can just play it. Guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, percussion, saxophone, those are the ones I actually have played. I first learned guitar then I taught myself bass, piano and drums.

How has digital software helped you as a musician and as someone who uses it to create music?

I like organic instruments but they are also limiting. So when you add in electronic stuff like synthesizers you get these sounds that cannot be made on another instrument like a guitar or bass or whatever. It adds a lot of sounds.

How do you incorporate your music into a live show?

When I make an album I don’t think about the live show at all when I am making it. I just do whatever I want to do. When it becomes time to do live shows I figure out how I am going to do it. So it just becomes trying to figure out how to make 4 people, 4 human beings make the sounds. I probably need more then 4 human beings to really do it.

The Internet has worked well for you as an artist with getting your music out there and heard. When you started to record and remix music did you set out to use it as the tool it is now?

I guess I knew a little bit about it. It was not some master plan. It was just one step at time. I made a remix for Marina and the Diamonds and it went on the Internet and it went crazy. Then people started asking me to do remixes, and people keep asking me.

How do you approach doing a remix?

Most of the times they just ask you to make it and you just make it. Maybe once in awhile they say a little about making a few changes or they don’t use it at all. But most of the time they just like it. I just try to make it good from the beginning. I don’t hand it into them until I think it is something they are going to like.

The label you are on, Neon Gold, is really hot right now. How has that helped you as an artist and remixer?

A bunch of the blog posts about me, some of them don’t mention Neon Gold but a lot of them do because Neon Gold puts stuff out. It’s a good thing to be involved with them of them.

You have an EP out now. Are you putting out a full-length album in 2011?


There is going to be a full-length album that will come out in spring of 2011. I just want to tour all over the place this whole year and just go crazy.

Girl Talk used your vocals on ‘Happen.” How did you guys hook up?

That was along time ago. Basically I met him when I was in college. He came to my college and played a show. He was totally different back then. He was using popular music but he wasn’t using it exactly like this. I met him and I was rapping back then and he asked me for some rapping vocals so I gave him some vocals and he used them on his album. We’ve known each other for a long time and he just asked me to open for him for this tour.

Is the new record basically done or are you still working on it? What is next for you?

The record is done. Now it is just waiting for it to come out basically. I am working on other stuff while that is happening and touring. Doing remixes still.

What would you like to do as an artist that you have not done yet?

Probably just go places I’ve never been and work with artists that I look up to. Work with like Prince or something. I don’t know if he’d want to do that because he’s so crazy now.

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