Prinze George's Naomi Almquist Reflects on a Breakout Year, and What's Next

Prinze George's Naomi Almquist Reflects on a Breakout Year, and What's Next

The vocalist of 2016's under-the-radar pop group talks being an artist in NYC, growing a fanbase on Hype Machine, and not wasting too much time feeling sorry for herself.

The vocalist of 2016's under-the-radar pop group talks being an artist in NYC, growing a fanbase on Hype Machine, and not wasting too much time feeling sorry for herself.

Text: MATHIAS ROSENZWEIG

Prinze George was one of 2016’s most underrated bands. The Brooklyn-based trio released their debut album, Illiterate Synth Pop, in August, and while the blogosphere loved it, we can’t help but think this should have been one of the (very shitty) year’s biggest breakthroughs. Tracks like “Upswing” and “Wait Up” make it hard to not fall in love with their particular brand of synth-pop. 25-year-old Singer Naomi Almquist stands front and center, backed by Kenny Grimm and Isabelle De Leon. We’re expecting big things from Almquist, who grew up in Prince George County, Maryland—obviously, the inspiration behind the band's name.  

How did you get started in music, and when did you decide you wanted to do it professionally?  

Naomi Almquist: I have been singing my whole life and writing music since I was eleven or so. I knew that making music would always be a part of my life, but I didn't consider doing it professionally until I started working with Kenny [Grimm] in 2012. There are many professional and creative limitations to pursuing music as a solo act; making music is far more fulfilling when you are part of a team.

Do you think living in New York is conducive to artists? 

NA: I think that if you want to pursue a career in pop music, it is wise to spend at least a year in New York or LA. It’s not about being seen live so much anymore as it is about being available to take meetings every day so that you can balance your work life and start to build your team. New York and LA are where the bulk of the music industry resides, so even though the Internet acts as an equalizer in terms of getting new music heard, it is more difficult to get the ball rolling long-term if you can’t network with the communities that could make that happen for you.

What are some differences you've noticed from being a female in music as opposed to your male peers? 

NA: Well, while there are many men that are not as receptive to female instruction or ideas, there are a lot of men who are. My boyfriend is one of them and he is the one I answer to on a daily basis, so I am very grateful for that. I think as a woman in any industry, you have to be more calculated in the manner in which you communicate and you have to work hard to keep your cool in situations where people use language that is misogynistic or sexist, so that you can get what you want. I have a temper and that gets in my way occasionally, but I’m also a white woman in a band with a white man and try not to waste too much time feeling sorry for myself.

When or how did you notice that people were starting to really follow and listen to your band? 

NA: After we released “Victor.” It spread through the blogs pretty quickly and went to #1 on Hype Machine, which I think mattered more in 2014 than it does now. From there, we started taking meetings and the streams have continued to grow since then.

How do you dress on stage as opposed to in your day-to-day life?

NA: I cover up more onstage than I do in real life. I am one of those people who is more comfortable in less clothing. Lots of booty shorts and crop tops and leotards, even in the winter. Sometimes I just hang out in my underwear. People have been telling me to "put some clothes on" for most of my life. My mother has officially given up.

How do you approach visuals for your music in general, such as music videos? 

NA: We have worked closely, since the beginning of this project, with our friend Joilyn Jackson, who is a visual artist with a great eye. She’s come up with concepts, leads the editing process, and has produced and shot most of our video content. We have also worked with Louisa Felden, Dan Cummings and Steve Ellington, and Chavvah Stuart in the past, who have all contributed concepts, camera work, and visual direction that honor our vision for these songs.

How do you define success? 

NA: Living a balanced life is all I strive for. Balance is the ultimate happiness.

What was your New Year's resolution? Have you been keeping it? 

NA: Sometimes! I’m trying to drink more water and less booze. I don’t do well with deprivation of any kind. Some days are more successful than others. My dad always says “everything in moderation; including moderation”.

What's your biggest goal with Prinze George? 

NA: I would like to be making music more full-time; not just writing, but also traveling, touring, and collaborating. It is a privilege to do this, but it would be nice to have more of a regular touring schedule.

Prinze George's Illiterate Synth Pop is out now from Sounds Expensive LLC.

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