Danni James and Krisluv are Dallas-based retro synthwave duo PRIZM. Channeling the colorful and buoyant sounds of the 80s, they bridge synthwave with powerhouse pop. They are releasing their new album All Night tomorrow, September 4, just in time for the final hurrah on Labor Day Weekend.
The album delivers on everything they have been releasing thus far, supercharged and tightened into a cohesive record. All Night distills the best of modern music indebted to the 80’s. It sounds like big hair, arcades, Atari game systems and obnoxiously bright clothing. Alongside the constant gliding synths, there are the occasional soaring sax, searing guitar solos and a bit of funk that always play second fiddle to their vocal performances.
There is a blend of slower ballads, speed-limit bursting songs and sing-a-long anthems.
To go deeper into their album, we asked PRIZM to break down each tune, track-by-track to give you an idea of the inspirations, ideas and process behind this album. Pre-order the album here.
1. All Night
Even though it wasn't our first song, “All Night” is when PRIZM became PRIZM. While looking for inspiration one day, Danni sent Geoff a text to check out FM-84. That opened up a whole new world of inspiration. We had never heard of "retrowave" or "synthwave" before. “All Night” is our take on that world with our pop sensibilities mixed in.
2. Disco Biscuit
It was after a writing session when Kris invited Danni over to her apartment to continue writing to a new track Geoff had worked on. Together we walked around Deep Ellum, grabbed a bottle of wine, turned on some disco lights and began letting the lyrics flow out. We took another walk around Deep Ellum singing what we had written and shooting a voice recording over to Geoff. He told us to get our butts into the studio ASAP and the three of us finished it the next day.
3. Lose You
“Lose You” is a bit of a paradox. We have this EDM style beat that makes you want to move, but lyrically it’s about being romantically paralyzed. That dynamic plays out through the whole song so it could easily hit people in different ways, whether it's just something to dance to, or something that you identify with emotionally that hits you in the feels. We like that.
We had been at the studio all afternoon working on another song and decided to call it a day. Kris however still had the juices flowing so she pulled up and old track idea from our Google Drive and basic wrote all the lyrics and melody in the car driving home. She brought it to the next session where we fleshed it out and fine-tuned a few things and that was it. We kind of couldn't believe it and now it's easily one of our favorites and we guarantee it will be some people’s favorite song on the album.
5. We Were Young
“We Were Young” has been our favorite song basically since it was finished. After signing with FiXT, we originally planned to release a cover medley (Midnight FM) that was already completely done and ready. But we decided we wanted something more epic. With a new platform and new potential audience, we wanted to try and write the perfect PRIZM song and we might have actually done it. Everything that we are as a group and everything we want to do is in this song. It never gets old to us.
This is the very last song to make the album. During quarantine, if you're not going to write a song ABOUT quarantine, then you're really not trying very hard. It's a blast. There's riffs and runs, playful lyrics and a beat that kept drawing is in.
7. You Know That You Love Me
“All Night” may be the quintessential early PRIZM song but it wasn't the first song. This one was. There were no big plans, just 3 people who wanted to collaborate and see what happened. It's based off a loop from the free version of Ableton that may have literally been called "80's Beat" lol. We basically wrote it in an afternoon, instantly loved it, and got great feedback from our circles. Someone said it sounded like if Whitney Houston was the lead singer of The Human League and that was about perfect. We all felt a spark and obviously kept going.
8. Can't Bring Me Down
“Can't Bring Me Down” was another quarantine baby, but the track actually dated back to summer 2019. We all liked the idea but could never pin something down and always ended up moving on to other ideas. But when we all the sudden had a ton of time on our hands, it was the first idea we reached for. It's the ultimate psych yourself up song made during a time when we all needed it. It was hard to finish, being completely mixed and mastered 2 separate times. During the final days of production we were in the studio shooting the album cover while Geoff is on the other side of the room completely redoing the intro on the computer. It was one of those.
9. Move Me
The original sketch track for “Move Me” was originally called "some karate kid bullshit" and was a result of messing around with a DX7. But we all dug it and it was the first song we worked on in 2020 after taking all of December away from each other. Someone on Twitter said it was their favorite snare sound in all of synthwave, which is a huge compliment. That was of course immediately followed by someone else saying they hated everything about it and we should watch YouTube videos on how to make music. Such is life on the internet.
10. You Should Know
We came to a point where we wanted to expand our horizons a bit and experiment with some different sounds. We made a playlist of songs we thought had elements we could incorporate into our sound. More funk elements. Less reverby traditional 80s type stuff. “You Should Know” was the first song that came from that journey and we dug it hard and continued to incorporate those vibes in songs like “Disco Biscuit” and “Closer.”
11. Can't Go Back
We wanted a break up song to close out 2019. Every other song we have is incredibly positive and has a happy ending. This is obviously completely different and draws on real experience of heartbreak. One day Danni was going through a breakup, crying by the pool when Kris comforted her and jokingly said “this should be a line in a song.” Danni pulled out her phone, tears aside, and began making notes. All of our songs are very much real life inspired.
"Let's do something weird". That's pretty much the story of “Illuminate.” Down tempo, lots of imagery and sounds we hadn't used before. It’s a great closer to the album.