Sydney Sierota of Echosmith Discusses the Band’s New Sound, New Formation and New EP ‘Inside a Dream’
Los Angeles’ own Echosmith has gone through quite the roller coaster ride in recent years. In 2013 they released the triple-platinum single “Cool Kids” which helped launch their debut album (“Talking Dreams”) to the top of Billboard’s Heatseekers chart. Like any young pop band, this sudden success is hard to match leaving a huge hill to climb for their follow-up. Unfortunately for the band, they grudgingly waved goodbye to their guitarist and sibling Jamie Sierota late last year. Echosmith now moves forward as a trio with Sydney Sierota maintaining lead-vocals and keyboards, Noah on bass guitar and Graham behind the kit. This brother-sister trio has since been forced to adjust their sound for “Inside a Dream,” their latest EP set for a Sept. 29 release. What was originally supposed to be their sophomore album has been pushed back to spring 2018 due to what the band describes as a being “overrun with inspiration.”
With a new formation, new direction and new EP, Sydney recently spoke with Entertainment Voice about the band’s recent flood of creativity which turned a standard album release into even more, plus bring back Jamie for a special acoustic cameo. Be sure to keep a look out for Echosmith’s (revamped) spring tour featuring British alt-pop outfit Banners starting April 4 in San Francisco.
Will you tell us more about what spawned the recent change which essentially allowed you to release an extra EP on top of your yet-to-be-announced sophomore album?
There’s just been a lot of ideas running around in our heads. We really just want to write a couple more songs for the album to make sure that it’s exactly what we want it to be because a sophomore release is really important. We figured, also, that a seven song EP would be a good way to hold over the fans until the album comes out early next year. But we just really want to take the time to write a few extra songs, and I think it will really be worth the wait. We know it was a little bit of an unexpected change but when you’re inspired you kind of can’t ignore it.
That said, what should fans expect from the upcoming LP?
We’re the same band at the core. Musically we’ve evolved, naturally, because we’re older than when we made our first album. So naturally there’s going to be a change. Our influences and just, who we are, what we’ve gone through in life and I feel like were really honest with the lyrics this time. A lot of the love songs for example (on the last album) were about dreaming of what love could be, you know, situations of what I wish I could be in or what I saw in movies. And now, I am in love and I can actually write about that and be honest about that and talk about little details that are true to my story. That’s just one example of how, lyrically, our songs have changed a bit. It’s nice so that we can connect to our songs even more and other people can relate too.
With the departure of your guitarist/brother Jamie, your sound has somewhat changed for “Inside a Dream” as you utilized more vintage synths and drum machines. What are you most excited about when it comes to this new electronic sound?
It’s really exciting in general to do new things. Just the fact that we’re able to try some new things in the studio, was really fun. It was a little intimidating because we had to fill this hole of Jamie’s guitar and his influence on the band which was huge for us. So trying to figure out what that meant was a really a really interesting process. But it was actually really fun…and we’ve been playing some of the new songs live and it’s just so fun. It’s fun having new things to do. We’re also playing our old songs of course, but it’s nice to mix the two. It’ll be cool to see, on tour next year, figuring out the blend of the first and second albums. It’s also really cool because it’s still a part of the same family, but we really get to evolve with this new album. I really think they go together. There’s definitely some differences of course but we just like to have fun with all the new instruments. Noah has a new keyboard that he’ll be playing on tour, fun little things like that; Graham will have a couple extra drum machines. For them, that’s really exciting.
The single “Goodbye” is a prime example of your new doctored sound with its tinges of tropical-house. Can you talk about the creation of this song?
It was kind of hard to decide where we wanted to go production-wise and musically because the guitar actually leads the entire song, but it was the last thing to be done. We wrote the song, then we put the drums and a couple keyboards but we couldn’t figure out what we wanted to do with the main line of the song. We tried a bass, then we tried an electric guitar, we tried keyboards and nothing was really feeling right. Then Noah grabbed an acoustic guitar and started playing this line and it was amazing. It was perfect because we tried so many things, but then it just came naturally when he picked up the guitar. That’s kind of a nice way (of) going back to our roots because we have written so many songs on acoustic guitar. That’s been a huge phase of who Echosmith is, so it was a kind of nice way to tie in who we are and how we started.
In contrast, your most recent video for “Dear World” is solely acoustic and quite sentimental. What drove you to write this one with just a guitar and vocals?
We kind of just decided, ’You know what? I don’t think this song needs that much production. Maybe we should just try recording it live.’ So everything you heard…we all did it sitting together. Our dad was playing piano and Jamie was playing guitar for the first time with us since he left the band. It was such a beautiful moment to tie in the song. Because the meaning of the song is so strong and it’s so straight forward that it didn’t need a ton of production, a ton of keyboards, all these things. It really was a sweet moment for us either way to record really organically as if it was one take, because we only did it like, two times. So it was a really fun one to do and it was nice to keep it simple. I think it turned out really nice, especially having Jamie on the song.
Family is very important to you. Not only is Echosmith made up entirely of your siblings – including your father/manager – but another one of your new singles, “Future Me,” comes with a music video featuring cameos from your mother, grandmother and cousin. What does it mean to you to have family so close during such a creative endeavor?
It totally is a very unique situation working with family so closely in business, and creatively too. Honestly, it’s really fun. We have moments where we fight of course, and get annoyed with each other and frustrated because we’re together so much. I mean we’re together more than most friends or family ever would be. So there are definitely times where we really battle it out and get so annoyed by the tiniest things, or personal things will kind of come into the business aspect. But at the end of the day, it’s really fun working together and I can’t imagine being on stage with, like, random guys who aren’t my brothers. Or having a manager who’s some other guy that I have to talk to all day, everyday. There’s a comfortability that comes with working with family and also, we trust each other so much. I never have to worry that our manager is going to do something wrong or sketchy, which happens really often in this industry. There’s a lot of positives working with your family and we love each other. We kind of were taught growing up that we had to be best friends and hang out, and now we have to hang out all the time (laughs).
When it comes to tone and messaging in your music, it inevitably falls under a positive umbrella. Even your Twitter bio reads “Spread Love. Spread Hope.” How important is it for you to maintain this sense of positivity in your music?
We think it’s more important than ever right now to share this positive message. We always, from the beginning of this band eleven years ago, wanted to have a message of what we did. We feel like Coldplay and U2 are huge examples of that. They have amazing songs that are catchy, and you want to sing along, but at the core, there’s a message there. That was really essential for us from the start. All along we wanted to share love, share hope and let people know that there was love. I feel like that message has grown with us, for the past, especially, few years. It’s become more and more important to us as time has gone on especially with how much craziness has gone on in the world right now. Even with all the natural disasters and with political things and with people hating on each other, we just feel like it’s so important, especially right now, to just share some love. Because it’s so needed, that light is needed right now. Honestly, it gives us more reason to do music. Yea, it’s fun to think about love too, but it’s really amazing to sing about something really personal and singing about life itself and knowing that somebody in Europe or in Asia can relate to that too. And they may feel a little bit better about their lives after hearing our music. That’s something that’s really crazy to us, but really important at the same time.
Because “Future Me” poses this idea of speaking to your future self, it begs the question; what would you tell the future Echosmith?
I would probably tell myself to remember to be thankful no matter what stage of life I’m in. Because right now, we’ve pretty much been home for like a year-and-a-half, working on the new record and we’re doing more promo and shows, but when you’re home for longer it kind of gives you space and time to think about how incredible it is that we actually get to do this. Because it’s easy to forget and lose sight and perspective when you’re in the middle of touring and you’re exhausted and completely sick and tired and jet-lagged and all these other things. And sure… there are times where you forget that this is such an amazing opportunity. Me, ten years ago, would have died knowing that this was going to be real. So I would just remind myself that I need to remain thankful, no matter what, the good or the bad. It kind of makes life a little more enjoyable when you live it that way. But you do forget that so I definitely need that reminder, so does my future self I’m sure (laughs).