By Doug Scott
Echosmith, consisting of siblings Jamie Sierota (age 20, vocals/guitar), Sydney Sierota (age 16, vocals/keyboard), Noah Sierota (age 18, vocals/bass), and Graham Sierota (age 15, drums) released their debut album, Talking Dreams earlier this month in New Zealand.
Formed in Southern California, Echosmith became the breakout band of the 2013 Vans Warped Tour.
I caught up with the band's front woman Sydney Sierota, where we chatted about the album, the Vans Warped Tour and what it's like being the only sister in a band full of brothers.
When did Echosmith form?
We've been a band for six years, but we picked up our instruments individually not even thinking about being a band a long time ago. We've kinda been doing it our entire lives as we come from a really musical household.
Where did the name Echosmith come from?
To be honest I can't remember who came up with the actual name Echosmith. I know that someone in the group came up with the idea of a blacksmith and how they shape metals, and we got the idea of shaping sound. So the name really seemed to fit with us.
Who were your musical influences?
We were really drawn to early 80s New Age music. Bands like Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, Echo And The Bunnymen... stuff like that. Also really loved Fleetwood Mac and their melodies, and we're all about the melodies too. They'd have the melody coming from a bass line instead of the vocals sometimes. I thought that was really cool. We also love Coldplay and The Killers too, those are two very solid bands that we love.
How did you learn to play your instruments?
It was really natural actually. I've been singing my entire life, ever since I can remember. And the rest of the guys just picked up their instruments really naturally. It's funny how we all picked perfect instruments to go together in a band without even planning it.
How does the songwriting process work within in the band?
It's cool because it's really collaborative with us. It's really fun to do it like that too because there are no rules with us. We all get in a room together and write. And even though Graham plays drums, sometimes he'll come up with the melody or Noah the bass player will come up with the guitar line. There really are no rules with sticking with their own instrument, which is fun. It keeps it really refreshing.
How's it being the only girl in the band?
It's pretty different. In general it's pretty interesting because there aren't too many girls in this industry anyway. I don't really understand why, but it's interesting being on tours where I'm literally the only girl except for maybe one crew member. But it is cool and it makes it a bit special when I meet a band that has a girl singer. Stuff like that is really exciting for me. But I grew up with three brothers anyway and never had any sisters, so I've always been used to it anyway.
Echosmith appeared on the Vans Warped Tour recently. How did you get involved with that?
Kevin Lyman heard our music and seemed to really like it. He put us on the tour for the first half of last year and then a week or two in he actually asked us to do the rest of the tour, which was really cool. That was really a big step for us because not too many people knew us and we hadn't toured much before then. It was really cool to have a lot of people discover us and to learn how to work in that kind of situation. It's so hot and it's so crowded, and it's hard as there is a lot of competing going on. There are seven bands playing at the same time as you, so obviously it's going to be a little difficult getting people to your stage sometimes, especially if you're playing at the same times as another band that you both have fans of. But it was really cool and we're doing it again next year which is really exciting. It was a really great experience.
Your debut album 'Talking Dreams' has just been released in New Zealand. How did the recording process work?
The process of recording it was really awesome, because we really decided to take our time, and we had all the time in the world. So I think it's really awesome that we got to take that time, especially for our first album where we could really dial in every single thing and make sure that we love every little thing... every part and every lyric, every note that came out of it.
Who produced the album?
Mike Elizondo. He was super cool and very easy going. He knows when to give input and when not to, and gives room for the artists to breath. So it was a cool experience for us and he's a really nice guy too. So it was all very pleasant.
Have you guys got plans for a follow up album?
Not yet. I think right now we are putting writing a little bit on hold. We still write once in a while but we're mainly focusing on this album for a little while yet.
Any chance of us seeing Echosmith perform in New Zealand in the near future?
That would be super cool. I'm sure we'll make it there either this year or next year. I'm not exactly sure when yet, but we'll definitely make it there as we've gotten a lot of response lately. Everyone I meet from New Zealand is really awesome and are some of the nicest people I have met, so I'm really excited to make it over there.