Caldwell Composer Creates Perfect Backdrop for Local Escape Room

By: Stefanie Sears


Escape Garden State is a New Jersey themed escape room located in Fairfield. Its rooms consist of Power Surge, based on Thomas Edison, Boardwalk Blast, based on the Jersey Shore and boardwalk, and Mafia Blackout, based on “The Sopranos.” They are now in the process of creating a fourth room called Devil’s Den, which is based on the famous Jersey Devil folklore.


Part of Escape Garden State’s charm is the atmospheric background music that plays during the course of the one-hour rooms.


You can thank Caldwell resident Dave Fogel for that.

Fogel, a longtime high school friend of Escape Garden State owner Matthew Hale, is the business’s music composer and media/marketing consultant.


“Matt tells me the theme and his vision for each escape room and I create what I feel would compliment it and give the room character,” explains Fogel, “When I compose a song for Escape Garden State the first challenge that comes to mind is how I’m going to fill 60 minutes which is longer than most albums. I create three separate songs of 20 minutes in length that take you through the room’s narrative. I want to set a mood for how the room will feel. I like to start the track with something inviting and relaxing and turn up the intensity throughout the 60 minute duration.”  


Fogel draws inspiration from such musical names as The Rolling Stones and Black Sabbath to film composers John Williams and Han Zimmer.


“I consider myself a student of music and love discovering artists, both old and new from around the world,” he says.


Each room calls for a certain type of thematic score. Fogel has composed tracks including orchestral, action/adventure, upbeat electronic, ambient, and horror elements.

“I want people to feel immersed in the experience,” says Fogel, “It’s a balance of being musically interesting and compelling without being distracting.”

Before Escape Garden State, Fogel has always had an interest in music. He performed in the First Presbyterian Church choir and played the violin and clarinet in school. He also experimented with different recording devices when he was little. This ultimately led him to want to create his own music and explore new instruments. He now plays guitar, bass, piano, and keyboard/synthesizer, while also dabbling in other instruments as well as singing.


I felt from the time I was young that music was fascinating and knew I wanted it to be a large part of my life,” he says, “I like to draw from a variety of genres of music and artists/musicians. An eclectic taste in music has driven my unique sound.”


Fogel works by using a combination of digital recording tools to record and compose each piece consisting of real instruments, synthesizers, and samples, as well as software that emulate various instruments such as orchestral.


“I like to blend genres, instruments, and musical ideas. I try to create music that hits at an emotional level while being memorable. Music for me has always been therapeutic. Besides the composition with the escape room, I create my own music that combines blues rock distorted guitar with electronic synthesizers and drum machines.”


Fogel has a degree in business entrepreneurship from Fairleigh Dickinson University. In addition to composing, he also has careers in landscaping and digital marketing.


“I work in the digital marketing space and audio/visuals are extremely important. There are a lot of parallels between music and regular life; instruments in a composition work together to create something greater than themselves. It is very similar to a room escape, how everyone is working together.”


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