In Retrospect - Echavox
Life is all about experimentation; trying new things, creating new things, and sharing your experiences with others. For Echavox, a young, three-piece band out of Whittier, California, experimentation is key in creating the unique audio experience of their album, 'In Retrospect.'
The album opens with a track filled with he sounds of nature: whistling birds, rustling critters, and a babbling stream; but the soothing sounds of nature are soon overlaid with an ominous feel, punctuated by someone wailing softly in the background, crying out for help. 'Greedbleed' has a very distinctive feel of loss to it, the lyrics sorrowful yet remorseful. Most of the album is performed acoustically, utilizing guitars, single drums, and synthesizers, but the overall instrumentation is very minimal, allowing the vocalists, Andrew Eastman and Alexis Murphy, to carry the music with their voices.
'Cathedral' is a perfect example of this, as it is performed with a single guitar. The lyrics are very dark and vivid, allowing us to physically feel the pain seeping through the words. The next track, 'Mistake,' starts up with an electronic back beat mixed up with a bit of a good ole' country key to keep things interesting. 'Flight' is a provocative song, as it begins, ends and is inter-cut with excerpts of a voicemail from an unknown woman expressing her distress with her and her significant others differing religious views. The song itself is very spiritual, with lyrics regarding the questioning of one's own faith. Next up is 'Mumbles,' another electronic type track that opens with a quiet piano arrangement and ends with a sweeping synthetic melody. The last track, 'In Retrospect,' is undoubtedly the strongest on the album, fully utilizing Murphy's abilities as a soprano to really emphasize the lonely feel and soulfulness that the artists' express so freely. There is a nice tempo change in the middle, employing the use of bells and wind chimes to create an ethereal aura that is lovely and melodic. The track ends as the album began, with the white noise of a rushing stream.
Eastman, the founder, guitarist, and lead singer, is extremely talented in his instrumentation and lyricism, and for me it is incredibly encouraging to see that not all young talent is so heavily reliant on auto-tune or the need to copy another artists' sound to break in to the industry. The band has such a unique sound and message that it is far too difficult to classify their genre in any specific way, and I believe that this is what is going to set this young trio apart from so many others in their generation. I am impressed with the ingenuity that the members put forth when creating their music, and hopefully we will see great things happen for them in the future.
I got the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Eastman of Echavox. Check out his responses below.
1. Tell me a little bit about your background and why you formed Echavox.
Echavox began as my solo project around 2010. I had a soundcloud and just posted demos. Since then I’ve played in about 4 different bands and kept the Echavox stuff to myself. During my senior year of high school, Alexis and I recorded our first demo, OXYTGRR, and got a really good response from our friends and family. So then it became a duo. I then asked Michael and Josh to perform with us live and help flesh out the music. We wouldn’t say that Echavox is a band, it’s more of a production, or a story.
2. Who/what are some of your musical influences?
We’re very influenced by choral music and film scores. I’m a big fan of renaissance and baroque composers Palestrina and Allegri. Right now I’m really influenced by FKA Twigs, Lana Del Rey, and Lorde. My long time influences are probably James Blake, Ben Gibbard, and Grizzly Bear.
Visual art is also a huge influence to my music as well. I’m a super huge fan of the production company Prettybird and specifically Jesse Kanda. IC3PEAK is another project I’m crazy about right now and I think they have an amazing sense of visual direction.
Michael and I are both really interested in using found sounds and foley in music. Every song on the next album, Nor (expected to be released this fall) has some kind of sample/foley encorporated into it. These are usually recorded on my phone – for example, people singing at a family friend’s funeral, friends having a conversation, bird’s chirping. I hope to continue doing that for pretty much every song in the future. It really makes the music feel more intimate and meaningful to me. Hopefully it adds something for the listener as well.
3. I loved the lyrics and can definitely feel the pain behind them. What inspired you to write this album?
In Retrospect is a concept album, based around the idea of death. Basically, the character is about to die and his life flashes before his/her eyes. Each song represents a different memory, except for the first and last songs, which describe the setting and the very last moment of consciousness. At the moment, I think that every Echavox release will be another chapter in this story. Nor will be about the transition between the finite world and an infinite realm. I guess the easiest way to describe it is that the plot of Echavox will cover this character’s journey through death and whatever could come after. I want to release like a PDF file with like an in-depth narrative sometime. I would like that a lot.
4. How long have you and your bandmates been playing and how often do you get to perform live?
I’ve known Josh (percussionist) for about 6 years, we were in drumline together in high school. I’ve known Alexis for a little over 3, we were in choir and theater together. And I’ve known Michael for about two years. We have played 2 shows this summer and have 2 more booked. I love performing live but I really want to wait until we have the time and resources to go all out. My goal is to create a show similar to a theater production with visuals, costuming, and lighting design. Soon.
5. How do you feel about the digital revolution in music and has it helped or hindered your success?
HELPED. We would not be anywhere near where we are today without the digital revolution in music. It’s so incredible that people around the world can hear our music so easily. It has given me more motivation to continue. There have been many times where I’ve thought there was no audience for it. But about 3 months ago I submitted a song, Habitat, to a blog/label I really enjoy: STYLSS. STYLSS featured Habitat on their weekly Sunday Selections Mix and literally overnight I got a lot of really positive feedback. I have always made music that I enjoy and I always put that first, but then knowing that other people enjoyed it as well was a very big treat for me. Since then I’ve been exposed to a lot of new beautiful and challenging music through the label that has inspired me a lot. It was such an exciting experience that gave me a lot of hope and want to better myself as a musician and composer.
(you can check out the latest STYLSS Sunday Selection here: http://www.stylss.com/post/94360318626/stylss-sunday-selections-week-81-yep-its)
In closing I just want to say thank you for taking the time to read this. I’m very glad