Esmond’s a member of a rare breed of humans that you’ll only encounter in New York City. He’s the guy who unapologetically chases his curiosities and lives everyday passionately pursuing his love for music. Although classically trained, he branches out into all genres and is excited about the possibilities when mixing various styles. To put his words into action he recently launched the music collective called The Players House.
Tell us about your background.
I was born and grew up in Brooklyn, New York and my family is from Ukraine.
What brought your family to the states?
My dad didn’t want to come, he had a great life in Ukraine. My family left because my mother was very anti-communism; she didn’t want to raise her kids in the Soviet Union.
Tell us about what you do in New York.
I’m a singer/songwriter and musician. I also founded a company called The Player’s House.
How did you get into music?
I was classically trained since I was 5 years old and my professor was from the Moscow Conservatory. My forte was always in 20th century contemporary music. Big inspirations to me were Henri Mancini, and Michel Legrand; they wrote scores for movies. At one point, I was living in LA also writing scores for movies.
Did you you also study in New York?
I went to NYU – my parents wanted me to pursue medicine but I always wanted to do something in the arts. Then I got into urban design and architecture. I felt like that wasn’t prestigious enough so I decided to do medicine, graduated with a doctorate in medicine and then spent a year traveling the world. I wanted to figure out who I was as a person.
Tell us about The Player’s House.
It’s an opportunity for up and coming artists to go onstage and collaborate with other artists from different genres. So If I’m participating and my genre is electro funk, then I would collaborate onstage with someone from a different genre, like country. The audience would get to hear my electro song played with something new like an acoustic guitar. This way, my fans come to see me but end up being introduced to different artists and hear really original music.
Apart from the blend in different genres, what else other elements of The Player’s House are collaborative?
If each artist has invited 40 people to come to the show and there’s 300 total people in the crowd, then every participating artist gets to expose their music to new listeners. This is huge for musicians who are up and coming. The audience also gets to see a mix of different artists and watch them collaborate in a really unique way.
What inspired you to create the Player’s House?
Basically there’s nothing out there in New York like this. It’s also somewhat of a member’s only thing. I want to keep it exclusive – for the artists. For you to be a member of the The Player’s House you’d have to be selected to be in the roster and it’s mainly for up and coming artists.
As an artist, what do you think is the best way to spread your music in New York City today?
Through friends and networking. There’s so much going on in New York, it’s very competitive and so many people are trying to keep up.
How do you envision The Player’s House growing in the future?
The whole idea is to cultivate it as a New York gem, but grow it in other cities like London or Dubai. So if you’re an artist and a member of the Player’s House and traveling internationally, you can perform and collaborate in a lot of different cities with other up and coming artists.
Let’s talk about the music scene in New York.
There’s this article that was published in The Village Voice that summarizes how I feel about the music scene in NYC. It said that every decade throughout Manhattan’s music and nightlife history there had been a lull. It always goes up and down, like a roller coaster. It’s been this way ever since the 20’s and 30’s.
For the past five years the Manhattan scene has been down. We hit a low point, but we’re starting to come out of it. There’s a major difference this decade — the rise is coming from Brooklyn. For the first time ever, a borough is surpassing Manhattan in the music scene.
Why do you think the Brooklyn music scene is so much better right now?
Brooklyn has an underground music movement, and it’s all happening in random warehouses. Nightlife is also symbiotic with music.
Where are some places in Manhattan that you recommend going to for live music?
Pianos, and The Bitter End. The Bitter End has been around for so long, it’s right near NYU. This place was the place; Paul McCartney and Madonna have performed there. Bowery Bar has cool stuff. I also like Mercury Lounge, Bowery Electric, and The Metropolitan Room which is a little bit jazzy.
Roseland Ballroom was great and historic but it got knocked down to become a condo. That’s an accurate symbol of what’s happening in the New York City scene today. You’re losing authenticity to mainstream clubs and condo developments. It’s all apart of gentrification.
In your opinion, in what decade did New York City see its best music scene?
In the 60’s and 70’s the scene all over the world was so different. You could go to the Troubadour in London, or the Troubadour in LA or the Viper Room and see artists like Mick Jagger spontaneously perform. It was so raw and authentic.
What do you think is causing a decline in the music scene?
Unfortunately, with the current music scene, online music and issues with piracy music is not the same. We have been conditioned to listen to mainstream pop which I call the fast food of music. It’s the McDonald’s of music and it’s easily accessible. It’s always there, and all of America listen to it all the time .There’s a catchy little tune to it, but there’s no substance. It’s very easy to go to, and we’re all brainwashed.
What are some artists that you’re currently listening to?
Keisza is great. Vocally, her voice is really different and her music brings back the 80s and 90s. I love a lot of old school. Prince is a god, Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger is an idol.
For someone who wants to discover great live music where would you recommend finding it?
If you’re reading about it, it usually means it’s not good anymore. When I hear a lot of buzz around it through word of mouth, then I decide to go see it for myself.