Music is Expression – Music is Experience
“These two things are found within the songs and sound of Promis, a rich blend of Old World and nu-school aesthetics that are alluring and irresistible.”
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Promis, born José Promis in Chile, moved to the U.S. at a young age, growing up in Tucson, AZ, and later spending many years in Los Angeles. Now he is living in Berlin, and touring the world. In 2017 he performed in Berlin (DE), Los Angeles and Palm Springs (USA), Athens (GR), Thailand (Bangkok and Pataya), Austria (Wells and Steyr) and other places. Further concerts are planned for Germany (especially Berlin and Cologne) and Europe.
Promis’ exposure to classic European music and contemporary pop styles irreversibly impacted him, whose passion for music initially moved him into the field of music commentary. Working for credible establishments in the first half of the last decade such as “All Music Guide” (allmusic.com) and Billboard, Promis’ transition from writer-turned-artist echoed others who had done the same: Neil Tennant (of the Pet Shop Boys) or Pete Wiggs (of Saint Etienne). Before his official 2008 break from the corporate world to pursue music full-time, Promis had already unleashed his debut (“Promis”, 2005) and sophomore (“Promis 2”, 2007) sets. Incorporating elements pulled from diverse inspirations such as Edith Piaf, Madonna and Charles Aznavour, Promis’ first two recordings secured him as a live favorite in the local Los Angeles club and cabaret circuit. The songs of Jacques Brel, Cole Porter and Kurt Weill as well as eastern European and Jewish music were influencing and somehow designing his unique music styles. Thus, his music is at first far from electro pop, but near enough to call it “Electric Cabaret” with a focus on the piano and then particularly arranged songs of passion, love and life.
In 2008 Promis explored world and electronic textures even further with his third and fourth sets “Promis III” and “Life is Grand.” The latter featured songs co-written and produced by New Yorker Ayhan Sahin, and featured an international, purely pop sound. The former, “Promis III,” was an electronic affair and his first teaming with Ian Matthews, who would go on to being a lifetime musical partner and producer and who was equally responsible in shaping Promis’ sound.
His irreverent vocal combined with a canny, emotional, yet sensual lyrical appeal steered Promis’ fifth album “Love Stories” (2011). Finally honed to perfection, Love Stories came on the heels of breaking into the independent international markets of Greece, Germany, Belgium, Chile and France.
His seventh album “Indiscretions” (2013) found him revisiting many of the genres present in previous projects, from cabaret to electronica to pop and even rock. Promis’ eighth set, “Sunset Blvd”, (and the second official Promis & Matthews collection, following “Vertigo Heights” in 2012) was released in 2015. This one differed from previous projects as those took the listener to distant lands and times, while Sunset Blvd is his Los Angeles album, with songs and themes particular to L.A. The summer of 2015 found Promis leaving Los Angeles for most of the year to Europe and he finally moved to Berlin in 2016. Around that time he was signed to Darumeshi Records and the compilations “As Promised – The Best of Promis Vol 1 & 2” were released.
In 2017, Darumeshi released his ninth proper album, “Electric Cabaret.” Once again, Ian Matthews was responsible for the album’s production. The album represents Promis’ influence of electronic pop, piano and cabaret music, whose best example is heard on “The Thrill of Cocaine.” The album’s electronic music is a reference to the styles of the late 1980s through the mid 1990s, climaxing in the duet “Flash and a Flame” with Hebrew-German singer Juval Porat.
In 2017 Promis also appeared and composed the music for German director Rosa von Praunheim’s film “Überleben in Neukölln” (Survival in Neukölln), whose songs, co-written with Berlin drag star Juwelia St. St. make up the soundtrack and companion album “Hungry Roses.”
After several single EP releases with remixes and new edits from the album “Electric Cabaret” as well as 11 videos for the album’s songs, Promis and Darumeshi Records developed the idea of releasing a remix album containing the best remixes and new, unreleased remixes and songs. So, the album “Disco Cabaret” was released in March/April 2018.
All in all José Promis is product of the romantic past of European pop and post-modern American vibes, a brand of music that delivers enlivened authenticity and eccentric charm.
Text by José Promis & Jerry Delay, 2018