Escondido is Nashville, TN based artists Jessica Maros and Tyler James. Recorded live in a single day, their debut album, The Ghost of Escondido, was self-released in 2013 to critical acclaim. Their David Lynch approved sound became the soundtrack to multiple films and TV shows including HBO's Girls and Sex Tape and led to appearances on Conan and ABC's Nashville. Following tours with the likes of Lord Huron, The Lone Bellow, Wild Cub, and Islands, the duo recently completed their follow-up album, Walking With A Stranger, out now on their label Kill Canyon.
The pair met in 2011 while James was recording their mutual friend at his home studio. "Jess was quietly strumming this song Rodeo Queen on the couch while everyone else was making drinks in the kitchen. I pushed record and added a little groove before folks got back in the room. Later that night we listened to it and both said 'You wanna make a record'" They spent the next two months crafting the songs and bonding over a shared love of spaghetti westerns and music out of Laurel Canyon and Nashville in the 70s. The band's inception marked a new chapter for both members. Maros, originally from Vancouver, BC, found success as a jewelry and clothing designer after initially moving to Nashville for music. Her jewelry has been worn by the likes of Prince and Lady Antebellum, her handmade dresses making the red carpet at the Oscars and CMAs. James, a small-town Iowa native, spent a decade on the road as a solo artist before joining Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros as keyboardist in 2010.
While Escondido's sophomore album retains their southwest fantasia, swirling trumpet, and slow-motion reverb, the approach has changed. "Our first record was lightning in a bottle," says James. "This time around was a hibernation so we could dig into the arrangements and sounds." After fleshing out the demos, the band returned to The Casino studio in Nashville and recruited drummer Evan Hutchings and guitarist Scotty Murray to help them lay the records foundation. The duo then spent the following months hunkered in James' bedroom studio, with James adding guitars, bass, trumpet, and keyboards. They then recorded vocals in a rented cabin south of Nashville and made final tweaks at Wax LTD. Studios in Hollywood, CA. The result is a complex landscape ranging from the aggressive noir of "Footprints" and "Heart is Black" to the love lost ballad "Try". "We weren't as precious about all the tracks being stylistically cohesive," says Maros "We just focused on writing good songs that come from an honest place".
The making of their new record plus extensive touring did eventually take a toll on the band's relationship. The two agreed that they needed some time apart so Maros moved to LA while James stayed in Nashville. "There was a time where writing music was the only way we communicated." says James. That distance is reflected in the songs on Walking With A Stranger. "This record's lyrics describe the loneliness you feel when with you're with someone everyday," says Maros. "The natural tug-of-war between a man and a woman." The band eventually worked through their differences months later on a camping trip to Death Valley. They drove to the middle of nowhere to find what inspired them in the first place. "It took us being apart to appreciate our differences," reflected James. "Music helps us forget the very conflict it grows out of. My favorite songs embrace that dissonance." The result is their follow album, Walking With A Stranger, available now.