ALBUM REVIEW + ARTIST INTERVIEW: Prinze George “Illiterate Synth Pop”


The Brooklyn-based pop trio Prinze George just blessed us with the celestial sounds of their debut album, Illiterate Synth Pop.

The band is made up of Kenny Grimm working production, Isabelle De Leon working the drums, and Naomi Almquist working the mic. The three got together in Prince George’s County, Maryland in 2013 and have been inching their way to damn-near perfection ever since.

Illiterate Synth Pop takes its listeners on the divine journey of life, with its authentic narratives about feeling stuck, feeling love and finding a way to move forward.

The album left me with two take-aways: motivation and tranquility. After listening to tracks like “Move It” and “Wait Up,” you can’t help but feel inspired to do better and become greater.

Each song embodies a flawless sequence of Almquist’s heavenly voice floating over unique electronic synths and the dope beat of De Leon’s drums. It’s quite the combination, as you realize that each track is not only sensationally soothing, but super raw.

You can feel this in “Angels,” as the songs starts with choir-like electronics that get you in a daze, and then the beat of drums comes in hard, switching up the entire style of what you think the song is going to be. The vocals on this song make you feel like you are in the clouds, and angels are serenading you, protecting you. This track is eclectic, and can be appreciated by anyone, regardless of what music genre they’re into.

The album stays upbeat with tracks like “Kisses” and “Freeze” while interweaving the more chill songs like “The Water Main” and “Gonna Get You Out.”

There’s a line in “The Water Main” where Almquists says, “I’m awake and I find it exhausting,” – this is one of my favorite lines, because it shows the feeling of melancholy we all experience at certain times in our life, and kind of just feeling confused.

Illiterate Synth Pop is an impressively moving project, and I got a chance to speak with vocalist Naomi Almquist about its creation.

AudioFemme: I’m obsessed with the title of this album. The term ‘illiterate’ is usually not seen as a positive thing. What did you guys intend for the meaning behind the title “Illiterate Synth Pop?”

Naomi Almquist: Thank you! When we released our second single “Victor” in 2014, there was a blog that reposted the song with the headline “Illiterate synth pop.” They were making fun of the way we spell our name, but we thought it was funny and would make a good album name.

What were your main inspirations for the sound, flow & lyrics in creating this project?

Kenny is the producer, so a lot of the sound comes from his mad scientist brain and his excellent taste, musicianship and obsession with having the coolest and most current toys and sounds. All three of us are very inspired by the home that we share and by this journey we are on together. I write the vocals; most of the lyrics are inspired by the earliest experiences and relationships of my life here.

What does it feel like to be releasing “Illiterate Synth Pop” as your debut LP?

It is very emotional for all of us. It’s been a weird in-between year and a half for the three of us, we’ve been picking up steam professionally, but it doesn’t happen overnight. We took a year to make the record. We’re still living with our parents. We love Maryland but we’re ready to get the fuck out. Making this record was such an incredible experience; we recorded it in Minneapolis and I recorded the vocals in an airstream inside our managers warehouse. Prince’s former engineer, Evan Bakke, tracked the drums and vocals. It was a surreal and wonderful way to make a first record. There were good vibes in the creative space and we are so excited to finally be able to share it.

What type of energy would you like this album to create for people? What would you like people to take away from it after listening?

I just want people to hear it. We don’t get to control the way that people respond to our music and that is the beauty of making something that you mean and releasing it to the world. We’re not on some huge major label, we’re not trying to stuff this down people’s throats. It’s our first record. I’m curious to see what people think of it but I expect nothing. I’m stoked every time someone likes a song. I mainly just don’t want people to lie about the way our music makes them feel. Just don’t lie to me. (Lol)

Who are some of your inspirations creatively and musically?

PG: Kenny’s earliest inspirations were AC/DC and movie scores, Isabelle’s was MUSE, mine were predominantly female singer-songwriters; namely Lauryn Hill. Isabelle and I are both Beyonce fans as well and are obsessed with her new record. I love jack white and the white stripes; they led me to the decision to select and commit to a relentless color scheme in everything we do.

For people who aren’t familiar with Prinze George, what would you like them to know about Prinze George and your music?

We make synth pop, but there is a large range to what we can do. We have a lot of Hometown pride, family pride, and love for one another. We hope that it shows.

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