Brooklyn fourpiece Esque play Afro-Latin soul-pop, an unlikely combo of Joy Division melodies, bubbling Latin rhythms and the cheery smash-up feel of Talking Heads’ Naked. Their website basically lays it out: “It’s a waste of time to play only one kind of music when, you know, the Internet exists.” Vocalist/guitarist Darren O’Brien describes recent single “Bones To Be” as “a nice little world party”—it was conceived as a tango, but it was ultimately fleshed out with a throbbing four-on-the-floor house beat. The track is available at their Soundcloud at a “name your own price” donation, with all proceeds going to Occupy Wall Street.
O’Brien and drummer Chase Anderson originally bonded within the insular music community of Memphis. After relocating to New York, they completed the line-up with bassist Martin Richards and pianist/guitarist Agustin Cichero, two old friends from Argentina. Unfortunately, their visas recently expired and they had to return to Buenos Aires. “One day we’ll live in a world without borders and be free to make music with whoever we want,” says O’Brien, “but for now we miss them.”
Download: Esque, “Bones To Be” (Bandcamp link)
What is “Bones To Be” about?
“Bones To Be” is a little reminder that we as individuals, our cultures and languages, our species, and eventually our planet and then our sun, will die. In a good way.
What inspired it musically?
I said the phrase “bones to be” once in conversation with a friend and a melody came with it right away. I spent that whole day working it out in my head until I could get home to my toy piano. The coda was a separate entity until I got the idea to combine them right before I introduced the song to the rest of the band… I don’t remember ever having a specific influence, but my original arrangement conceived of it as a kind of Bryan Ferry/David Sylvain, lite-funk, moody crooner piece.
What inspired it lyrically?
I don’t remember the original context of the title phrase, but I immediately liked the idea of thinking of people that way—not in a homicidal or malicious sense, just realistically. So the rest was taking an idea that most people don’t like to think about and extrapolating it to a scale that they like even less. It borrows a little bit from Nietzsche, who in one book tells the story of humanity something like this: Once upon a time there was a species that thought they were important and then they died. It was really no longer than that. Our culture especially is in severe death-denial, but I think it’s important to have a holistic sense of these things. It helps in finding a proper balance between future- and present-centric attitudes, and as with most of the “existential dilemmas,” what initially looks bleak can actually be joyous. The hope is always that realizing how puny we are will inspire us to greater communion with our fellow man rather than make us more callous and greedy.
What has been your involvement with Occupy Wall Street?
We’ve been to a couple OWS events, but for better or worse we’re also part of the workforce and I can’t be there as much as I’d like. This is the first time I’ve seen the anti-corporate movement gain such widespread appeal, and that’s really exciting to me. The fact that various unions have shown solidarity is a real positive. It not only makes it harder for critics to dismiss the protestors as fringe, unwashed, Seattle-1999 drum-circle enthusiasts, but I hope it’s a sign that the left is growing through its “identity politics” phase and reuniting against the real enemy.
What’s the most memorable show you’ve played in New York City?
I’m not sure if it’s a good memory, but we opened for Crystal Castles and HEALTH at Studio B several years ago. We had a great time, we just didn’t make sense with those bands, and I’m not sure people knew what to make of it. Or if they did know what to make of it, it wasn’t in a good way. Actually, I only think that way because I saw two negative mentions on blogs. Fuck it, I’ll play to 1,500 people any time.
What’s your favorite place to eat in NYC?
I’m really not a foodie, sadly. A friend treated me to Le Cirque once, where we knew the chef, and that was amazingly decadent, but I usually go for humbler fare. I have to plug Rock ‘n’ Raw, my friends’ Creole/Peruvian raw foods restaurant in Williamsburg. Best desserts you can find anywhere.