For decades now, Austin has been considered the cultural center of Texas. However, a couple hours away, southeast on Texas Highway 290, Houston (the fourth largest city in the U.S.) is experiencing a burgeoning cultural renaissance — particularly when it comes to the Bayou City's diverse music scene. While Houston can proudly call itself the hometown of such legends as Destiny's Child, Beyonce, King's X and blues rockers ZZ Top, it's been a while since a superstar act or a hit single has emerged from the Space City. However, that is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Everyone in the city's entertainment scene can feel a "change a' comin'."
"Houston's music scene has been churning and brewing in creativity for the last ten years as it's claimed the title of most diverse city in America," explains famed producer Josh Applebee of legendary SugarHill Studios (the oldest continuously operating studio in the South). "We are starting to see several new Houston acts spill over onto the national stage with artists like The Suffers, Robert Ellis, and B L A C K I E. Drop Out Vegas is part of the new wave of artists that people across the world should catch onto now, because their sound and talents is unmistakably fresh, vibrant and exciting."
Having released a dazzling debut EP ("Syllables") and having garnered a reputation for delivering breathtaking live performances, the critically-acclaimed electro-power pop duo Drop Out Vegas — Skyler James (lead vocals and keyboards) and Jason Bentch (drums and percussion) — has begun to attract the attention of music fans, radio programmers and major label across America. The duo's brand new single "Sleep Alone" (to be released on July 16 on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Apple and all digital platforms) should propel Drop Out Vegas into an international musical force to be reckoned with.
A robust and unforgettable rock anthem, sizzling with contemporary synth-pop sensibilities, featuring Skyler James' unique and strikingly impressive vocals and Jason Bentch's sensational and tenacious drumming, "Sleep Alone" is a remarkable musical accomplishment from the Houston-based Drop Out Vegas. Aurally alluring and sonically seductive, "Sleep Alone" is destined to emerge as THE electro-pop single of Summer 2016.
"We always try to make music that pushes the boundaries of how fun and catchy music should be," proclaims Skyler James, the affable, confident and undeniably handsome Drop Out Vegas front man. "At the same time, we also want to convey some sort of relatable message. 'Sleep Alone' is a coming out story of bad relationship and hook up experiences, told in a way to bring a voice to the Tinder & Grindr generation and to hope for a better day for those with low self confidence. We think it would be a perfect edition as a positive, upbeat, yet raw and honest pop electro hit!"
"Drop Out Vegas are appealing for a number of reasons, " explains SugarHill's Applebee, who is currently producing a number of musical artists for the forthcoming "Ascenders Saga (Music Inspired By and For) soundtrack. "Drop Out Vegas uses synths and acoustic instruments to create this unique high-energy, ear worm indie pop, and Skyler has the stage presence and skilled, exuberant dance moves to propel the music forward on stage. They are definitely one band that will keep your attention and get you dancing, too."
"Sleep Alone" was co-written and co-produced by James and Bentch and recorded at 226 Recordings in Houston. The single was mixed by Scott Jacoby of Eusonia Studios (Vampire Weekend, John Legend) and mastered by Emily Lazar of The Lodge (David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Beyoncé). The duo have spent most of 2016 crafting new music alongside powerhouse musical collaborator Jeff Franzel (Lady Gaga, Idina Menzel, N'SYNC) for more upcoming 2016 singles and their full-length debut in 2017.
Passionate, astute, creative and acutely intuitive songwriters, James and Bentch admit they have penned songs that were so personal they both had to think twice about playing them for friends and fans. "To be honest, all of our music is a form of therapy for me," Skyler reveals. "The toughest song I ever wrote was one I performed at my uncle's funeral, who was also a musician. I had one night to write the song. The song talks about our plans to write together, which unfortunately never happened. Lyrically, it's probably my most well-written song. I hope to release it one day once we can afford a whole symphony to bring it to life."
"I wrote a song about a childhood friend of mine who committed suicide a couple of years ago," Jason adds, with an obvious hint of sadness in his voice. "I wrote it as a letter to him because after the funeral I was filled with survivors guilt and had a lot of pent up emotion. I wrote it in about five minutes, I've never been able to put my thoughts down so easily before or since. I can't perform it without breaking down."
Drop Out Vegas' musical influences come from a wide array of genres and musical artists. "In elementary school I was heavily inspired by 00's British rock such as Keane, and Coldplay," Skyler remembers. "During middle school and high school, I transitioned to darker and more dramatic acts like Panic at the Disco! and Death Cab for Cutie, Now, I listen to indie rock, folk, and Cali-pop, acts such as Young the Giant, Grouplove, and The Head and The Heart, I think you can easily hear all these influences in our music. I've also always had a love for jazzy pop, a little Frank Sinatra and early Maroon 5."
"When I was younger, I was heavily influenced by bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and the Red Hot Chili Peppers," states drummer, producer, and co-writer Jason Bentch. "With the latter two, I was exceptionally drawn to the incredible contributions from the drummers, John Bonham and Chad Smith. They really imparted the importance and the grace a drummer can have while also having a massive impact on the music."
From as early back as he can recall, James confesses that composing music and playing it in public was an essential component of how he envisioned and began fashioning his destiny in the entertainment world. "I always was drawn to performing and entertaining and grew up around it from a young age," Skyler, who was born in Nashville, admits. "My grandmother is a lifelong church organist, whom I lived with for a while. My uncle was a bar and restaurant singer/songwriter. I remember seeing him play in my elementary years, and I remember thinking, "What he's doing is exactly what I want to!" After winning a showcase for a free string arrangement at nineteen, from producer Stevie Black (Cher, Madonna, P!nk) I finally had the confidence to pursue music full time and professionally."
Drop Out Vegas initially lit up the Texas pop music scene in 2015. In addition to garnering acclaim from the Houston Chronicle ("Unabashed pop goodness") and Houston Free Press ("...if there were a band to break out in the indie pop world and they be from Houston, they stand the biggest chance to do so") Since the release of "Syllables" in March of 2015, Drop Out Vegas has toured relentlessly throughout the past two years and has opened for major artists such as The Pussycat Dolls, Estelle and Big Freedia.
Drop Out Vegas have been featured artists at such events as SXSW 2016, the massive Springboard South Festivals (2015 and 2016) and Houston's 2015 LGBT Pride Festival, which reportedly drew over 700,000 attendees. Additionally, the duo are constantly playing charity events, particularly for the causes they believe in, feel close to and personally champion.
"We have a TON of issues we care equally about," James declares. "My family and some close friends have been impacted by cancer. We try to play as many charity events and give proceeds back as often as we can. I also struggled hard in my high school/early college years with depression and anxiety. I want to use those experiences in my writing and have already had people tell me how much our first single, 'Symphony' has been a beacon of hope for them. We also both believe in championing LBGT rights, I fall on the spectrum, and struggled with my sexual identity for a long time. Playing the 2015 Houston Pride (Festival) was one of the best experiences of my life. We both got into music to make a difference, and change people's hearts more than anything else. Anywhere we can shine a light, we want to."
In the eyes of their ever-growing legion of devotees (that extend far beyond the Bayou City), it's time for the rest of the citizens of planet Earth to plug into the sound and experience the radiance of Drop Out Vegas. Skyler James could not agree more. "I truly want to take Drop Out Vegas as far as we can go, and I believe we have a damn good chance to really impact lives nationally, and hopefully internationally with our music and narrative," he admits. "Personally, I've been putting all my energy into music, which I truly believe is finally going to pay off for us in a wonderfully major way. More than any of the songs on our first EP, with 'Sleep Alone,' I think we really have evolved into a group with a signature sound very much our own."'
While transforming Drop Out Vegas into a household name is priority number one for James and Bentch, Skyler harbors personal goals and aspirations he is determined to achieve in the future. "Once we reach a sustainable point with this band," he explains, "I really want to branch out and explore the world, grow my spirituality, and try my hand at altruism, acting and modeling. I hope to one day be educated, respected and worldy enough to where I can use my voice and our music to make a positive shift in this generation."
To celebrate the July 16 release of "Sleep Alone," James and Bentch will offer their hometown Houston fans the chance to hear the potently alluring new tune for the first time, along with an inaugural glimpse at the Jonathan Marzolla directed accompanying music video at the Bayou City's hottest new venue Raven Tower (310 North Street, Houston, Texas) at an exclusive single and video release concert.
On July 15, the day before the single and video release concert at Raven Tower, Drop Out Vegas will perform a preview version of "Sleep Alone" on the highly-rated "Great Day Houston with Deborah Duncan" morning show on the CBS affiliate KHOU Channel 11 from 9:00 to 10:00am CST.