Penguin Prison, aka Chris Glover, has created an electropop audioscape for—and inspired by—New York City. It makes sense; after all, the city that Glover was born and raised in thrust him in the midst of a cultural apex where it would’ve been impossible to escape a musical destiny. (Holy Ghost! and R&B singer Alicia Keys are childhood friends, and as a teenager, Glover performed at CBGBs with his band The Museum.)
On his second album, aptly titled Lost in New York, Glover mines the city and its residents for inspiration; MDNR and Peter Wade guest on his single “Never Gets Old,” for example. (“I saw her perform at a weird party at a brownstone in lower Manhattan a long time ago when I didn’t know who she was but thought she was really cool,” he says of working with MDNR.) “The second I decided to name my album “Lost In New York” all the songs seemed to make sense all together,” Glover said.
Hometown and residence:
I was born and raised in New York City! I still live in New York. I have never lived anywhere else except when I went to Bard College, which is about two hours upstate from NYC.
What’s the first instrument you played?
I first took a music class when I was two years old and I was banging on some drums. Later on I started singing in a choir at school and then learned the guitar.
Why did you call yourself Penguin Prison?
I wanted a name that is funny and serious at the same time. Penguins are funny but prison is not funny at all. I try to make music that is funny and serious at the same time.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
The bands I listened to the most while making my new album are Fleetwood Mac, Caribou, Chairlift, DIrty Projectors, Tame Impala, William Onyeabor, Todd Terje and many others.
Why is your latest set called “Lost in New York?”
New York is the greatest city in the world … sometimes. But other times it doesn’t seem that way. There have been many pieces written recently about how New York is changing and it isn’t what it used to be. It’s a hard place to survive and it seems to be getting harder. The second I decided to name my album “Lost In New York” all the songs seemed to make sense all together.
What’s the best thing about living in New York?
The best thing about New York is walking all over the place. People in Los Angeles get in their car to go two blocks! New Yorkers don’t see anything wrong with walking for miles and miles because you can see all kinds of crazy stuff in the streets and run into people by chance and let the day take you in an unexpected direction.
You perform as a DJ and with a band … how does that work?
I perform as a DJ and also with a band; both are very different of course. The main similarity for me though is that I am always thinking about what I would want if I were in the audience. Whether I am djing or playing with a band I always want people to have the most fun possible. So I change things up live from the recording in order to get people more excited like adding a screaming guitar solo and jumping into the crowd.
Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
I like to use a neti pot and also I get really sleepy right before I play. After the show I have a lot of adrenaline and I want to eat a lot of food.
You’ve remixed and been remixed by a lot of people. Whose songs do you love to remix? Who do you love getting remixed by?
I really loved getting my songs remixed by RAC, Goldroom, Jeffrey Brodsky & Blende as well as many others. My favorite remixes I have made for other artists are the ones I made for Verite, Lana Del Rey, Kimbra and Allan Kingdom.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
I would love to make a song all together with Kanye, Beck and Beyonce.