Interview with Echos
photos by Kamyar Abtin, styled by Bella Alberts
“I think it’s safe to say that we’ve truly grown up together,” singer Lexi Norton says of the development of Echos alongside instrumentalist Tal Richards. “I’d also like to think that maybe our personal evolution is what led to the evolution of our sound, but a part of me thinks it may have been the other way around.”
There’s a marked maturity in the Portland duo’s latest singles, “Euphoria” and “Saints”, when compared to their 2016 self-titled EP. The same yearning feeling is there, as well as Lexi’s fragile vocals, but there’s something more driving; impassioned. It’s something they hinted at in tracks such as “Say It” or “Fiction”, but never fully explored. This is a new era for them.
“We started getting a bit more experimental and free flowing with things at a very natural rate, so perhaps the repetition of that eluded to the free flowing state in our day to day lives,” Lexi continues. “Tal started sending over demos that had so many new and loud ideas (like ‘Saints’), so I started writing lyrics from a really raw and loud standpoint to adhere to that shift in volume. We were also listening to a lot of Post Malone and The Weeknd during the writing process, so I think perhaps their ability to say things without a filter really inspired me to dig deeper and push me to say what I was feeling without hiding behind a wall of metaphor.” While their EP might have been a melancholic cloud of songs, this fresh sound is like a hurricane, cutting through and demanding to be noticed. Intensity will be ever-present throughout their debut album ‘Even Though You’re Gone’, scheduled for release on December 7.
But the name “Echos” is still a powerful representation of their music, both in atmosphere and sentiment. Lexi feels that it’s so engrained in who they are that she “can’t remember [her] life without it.” It encapsulates the essence of the band’s sound, which is reminiscent of many different musical genres. “My musical influences over the years range from Evanescence, Ellie Goulding, Florence + The Machine, Modest Mouse, and Animal Collective. Tal is incredibly inspired by Hans Zimmer and Sigur Ros. I feel like it’s shaped our sound in that sense that we’ve created an inspiration baby of sorts from all of the above in our own way,” she notes of their all-encompassing style.
This merging of interests came from an encounter in a place that has become more and more common for artists to explore within the past decade: the internet. “We met on a blog that was called 'dubstep.net' about six years ago,” Lexi explains. “We were both releasing music through them, and I sent Tal an email asking if he wanted to collaborate because I had heard he loved my vocals. We literally made a song within our first email and haven’t stopped collaborating since. It will be six years as a band this coming May. Pretty wild to think about.” The duo is living proof that it’s possible to foster meaningful, lasting connections online; it’s just a question of finding the right people. And their creative association is particularly special: “Working together is incredibly fun; it’s almost like we have our own secret language. There have even been times where we are working on demos separately on the same day and they’ll end up being in the same key. We joke that we have little riffs we call ‘Lexi’ melodies and ‘Tal’ melodies. It’s definitely our own secret code!” the singer shares.
There are also still aspects of the process that are quite personal to Lexi, especially the lyrical content. “Most of my lyrics are written in real time as I’m experiencing things - it’s sort of always been a coping mechanism,” she describes. “When I was little I would come home from school and instead of crying about something someone did or said, I would end up writing a song about it and then three-way call my best friends and sing it for them. I totally still do that. So you guys are literally listening to my diary. I know that sounds incredibly cheesy, but I’ve always used creating music as a tool for inner healing. It helps me process things and understand them outside of my own chest.” Her lyrics are intriguing, with an element of something haunting just under the surface. They suggest pain both delicately and transparently.
The upcoming album will be similar in this regard, involving the complexities of a single relationship. “This entire record was difficult to write to be completely honest," Lexi reveals. "I’ve never written a body of work solely about one person, so it’s sort of like a giant letter from start to finish on how I digested the grieving process. There’s one song in particular that always gets me - it’s called ‘My Blood’ and it was the first demo we created in the writing process back in 2016, so perhaps since it’s the youngest of all the songs it holds a special place in my heart." And the album title, ‘Even Though You’re Gone’, is just one fitting fragment of an emotional entity. “I was brushing my teeth one afternoon blaring the ‘Euphoria’ demo from my bedroom trying to think of a damn name for this thing,” she recalls. “I had a list of like twenty or so that I had brainstormed, but nothing seemed to fit. As soon as the lyric hit, I looked up into the mirror with toothpaste falling out of my mouth and yelled, ‘THAT’S IT! EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE GONE!’ I loved the idea of the title being an unfinished sentence - it sort of felt hopeful that way. Or slightly menacing. I suppose it depends on the mood you’re in when you listen to it in its entirety.”
Their “ethereal, sad, and cinematic” music lends itself to breathtaking visuals as well. So far, both “Euphoria” and “Saints” have music videos to go along with them, each following an enigmatic storyline. “Robert Anthony and everyone over at Stripes Agency are all MASSIVE legends,” Lexi says. “Watching them bring these songs to life was an absolute dream. There is actually a very distinct meaning in [the videos] - the myth of Echo & Narcissus is a very prominent detail the more you watch the videos and listen to the record in its entirety. We did a lot of research on it during the writing process, and over time we began to realize how many similarities I share with Echo. She was a Greek forest nymph who had a curse placed on her where she could only echo the sound of other people’s words. When she fell in unrequited love with Narcissus, she died of a broken heart and the only thing that remained of her was her voice."
"My family is Greek as hell, and I grew up and live in the forest so that in itself was a bit odd, along with the fact that we share our band name with her," she elaborates. "We didn’t really know any of this when we chose our name either, so it felt like finding a treasure box from the past as we began to uncover our similarities. Perhaps in a way I’m an embodiment of the voice she lost and I’m telling her story through modern day music. Could be a load of shit, who knows, but it’s been fun to entertain. I’m also planning on getting a tattoo in her honor. I have a few other tattoos that symbolize my connection to what I like to call my ‘inner goddess’, and adding Echo to that memorial on my left side feels right.” The flowers prominently seen in both music videos are a symbol of Echo, too. “That was another part of the eerie connection, because when I was looking up alternate Echo meanings I walked out of my door that morning and realized a bunch of them were growing in my front yard…”
Fans can expect to see some more music videos soon, as well as live shows. “We explored a lot of live elements throughout this record and brought out some friends to jam with us, so you can expect to see a bit more of that, and we are currently planning some shows for the winter.” While formulating these plans, Echos will wait for the liberating moment when all twelve tracks are released into the world in December.
“It’s still quite strange to us, really - the fact that when we release songs they don't just go into this random void, they go into other people’s lives and experiences. We’ve been putting out music for over six years and I genuinely still go ‘NO WAY?’ when people tell me they listen to our music. I don’t know - maybe because Tal and I are such reclusive people it’s such a contrast that our music goes out while we repetitively stay inside,” the singer laughs. “It sort of feels like the final step in the healing process is releasing it because it solidifies that these songs no longer belong to us anymore. Once they’ve been released into the world, they’re able to shape-shift their meaning and adhere to the life of the listener.”
"Saints" music video:
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