Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 11: Echosmith

Up until now in my section of this blog series called Momentous Mondays, I have, and this is probably unintentional; written about and explored the discography of artists that, though are still somewhat finding their feet and not as established as others whom Jon is writing about in his list; are nonetheless seasoned in terms of years. As in maybe aside from Alessia Cara (from my memory, Alessia released her debut before she turned 20!), the other 9 artists I’ve talked about thus far had to do the hard yards and toiled for quite some time before their big break. Not that I’ve had any reason to avoid artists who are young and thrust into the spotlight for whatever reason- I actually reckon that some artists who are in the spotlight from a young age are mature and are wise beyond their years; but I reckon generally speaking artists who have been around for a while yet who are just making their mark now, are maybe slightly more humble and more mature. Yet an artist who has popped up recently on my Spotify playlist who I reckon will be a force to be reckoned with is the up and coming band Echosmith– and they fit in the category of Alessia Cara- they’ve been around for 12 years and lead singer Sydney is only just 22 years old!

Comprised of siblings Sydney, Noah and Graham Sierota; the band released their debut album Talking Dreams in 2013 (back when lead singer Sydney was just 16 years old); and now the band are 6 years older and 6 years wiser as their sophomore album Lonely Generation has dropped. And before you say that just because Echosmith released their first album when the band was in their teens; that it’s probably a safe bet that they’re poppy with not much lyrical substance; well then just listen to both albums and be amazed! These guys are a one in a generation pop/rock/alternative band who are not afraid of singing about the deep and meaningful stuff. Are they the new Switchfoot? I reckon they very well could be. If you’re just opening this page and are just tuning in, you might be exclaiming ‘Echo-what?’. And let me just reassure you that no I’m not crazy, and no I’m not going off the deep end. I know, I know, this band even in comparison to the previous 10 I’ve written about, may come as a bit out of left field and as a bit of a shock…but no time is better than the present to dive in deep to an artist that has hit my heart and my emotions several times over.

I first heard of Echosmith when Sydney sang guest vocals on one of the many versions of For King And Country’s mega-hit “God Only Knows”. The result was one of my favourite duets in recent memory, and I just knew that once I heard the track that I needed to check out who Sydney was as a singer and who Echosmith was. After some digging and some more digging, I found out the heart of the band and some songs online- and let me tell you, these guys are definitely a band to watch out for in the future. No doubt Echosmith will be plenty influential in the future but I’d say that if you want to listen to their discography first before you keep on reading, then I reckon that you can listen to Lonely Generation first- which released just last month- and then go backwards- finishing up with “Cool Kids” from 2013. Essentially that’s because I’ve heard Lonely Generation more than any other Echosmith album and that one holds a special place in my heart. And you can also read Wikipedia too about Echosmith. Now…have you finished listening to Echosmith’s discography yet? Good, you’re all caught up and set.

What do you reckon is the ideal age for someone to start making their mark on the industry or sphere of influence that God has prepared for them to do? Is it from the day of their birth? Or when they’re of coherent age like a toddler? Or older like 10? Or out of school like 18 years and older? In the Bible there are countless heroes that have answered the call for God and have boldly followed where He led at a very young age. Daniel, Joseph, Josiah, David, Samuel, Jeremiah, Ruth, Rahab, Esther, Timothy and Mary the mother of Jesus are just a few of God’s many faithful servants who answered the call when they were metaphorically just fresh out of nappies. It’s daunting isn’t it, to know that you are meant to influence the world, and you yourself don’t actually know how your own life is going to go. Yet that’s exactly what happened with these guys. And Echosmith is the same. To release a debut the calibre of Talking Dreams is nothing short of amazing, as Talking Dreams is quite the debut album- a myriad of still-relevant topics are discussed with immense professionalism and skill. To think that Sydney was just 16 at this stage is quite remarkable. I’m sure she hadn’t had the world figured out at that stage, but to sing out to the world inspiration and encouragement anyway- to sing out even while still afraid; well that takes guts and true courage.

The first song on Talking Dreams is “Come Together”- which was filmed as a music video inspired by the 80’s movie The Breakfast Club; and is actually similar in theme of Third Day’s song of the same name. As Sydney and her brothers fervently sing about the power of music and the power of unity and believing in a common cause, to actively change the world we live in; this track is perfect as the opener for their very first album- as they show the world a bold statement that they long for unity that can hopefully lead to positive change. While alternative rock smash hit “Cool Kids”, the group’s first single, delves into school yard peer pressure- as we are presented with a song where the persona longs to be like a ‘cool kid’ in order to fit in, the persona longing to be someone else because of whatever reason- society or otherwise. “Cool Kids” will forever be etched in the minds of many because of how quickly the song blew up and put these guys on the map, however I reckon it’s the lyrics that make the song what is was and what it still is today. The title track is also a song that has impacted me, as the quartet (now trio) passionately reiterate that life is to be lived to the full because of simply the fact that we’re all alive and breathing, while songs like “Let’s Love”, “Come With Me” and “Bright” are all standouts in my opinion- love songs in their own right, yet also lyrical pieces of art with no real faults whatsoever!

I would say, unfortunately, [social media’s] become more relevant now than it ever has been. Social media did exist when “Cool Kids” was written, but it wasn’t as big of a deal as it is now. I literally don’t know a single person who doesn’t have social media. That’s pretty crazy. When “Cool Kids” was written, I knew plenty of people who didn’t have it yet. I was still a sophomore in high school. Life has changed so much in the past seven years, and I think the importance of social media has really hurt our generation. We’re all so caught up in what other people think about us, and in presenting a perfect version of ourselves… But that’s not reality. I think it’s really pulled us away from being authentic and true to who we are — which is what “Cool Kids” is about, at the end of the day.

It’s hard to find a balance…obviously, with what I do, it’s really important that we’re on social media, that we’re active on there and responding to as many fans as we can. We love getting to talk to our fans and interact no matter where we are…. But I try to limit myself in a personal way from scrolling too much. My screen time is way too high right now. I’m trying to find the balance between seeing what’s going on, in a healthy way, and then stopping myself before I start comparing myself to this perfectly edited version of somebody.

There’s a lot of themes and feelings inside of [Lonely Generation]. There are a lot that have come from this world of social media, and what does that mean and how do we feel about it. But there’s also so many other layers to my life that I got to talk about on this album. I think that’s really special, because with the first album I was only 16. Now I’m 22 and I’ve learned so much more. I’m married. I got to fall in love and experience that firsthand instead of just dreaming about it, watching movies about it, and hoping one day, I could feel that too. So lyrically, we got to really dig in to that part of me. It felt really special to do that. It felt really special to be so vulnerable…. I mean, anybody can really relate to the themes of this album, which are coming of age, finding who you are, and also falling in love and discovering what all that means to you. How does it make you feel — the good, the bad, the in between? The things that are kind of hard to talk about are really important to talk about, too, and that’s something we wanted to address on this album.

Other than “God Only Knows” with for KING & COUNTRY, the first song I heard from Echosmith was in fact “Lonely Generation”, and it was from this track alone that I surmise and concluded with limited knowledge that Echosmith would be big and would be influential. I mean they were singing about the detriments of social media, which I reckon no other artist has even touched upon! So congrats to them. But as far as lyrical content goes, this album that took 6 years in the making is head and shoulders above the debut in every facet (in my humble opinion!), and you only need to look at the title track to understand what I mean. The lead single, opening track and title track “Lonely Generation” is essentially a lamenting of sorts as Sydney recounts about how much we all spend disconnected from relationships in the real world because we’re too busy on our social media and our screens. It’s a problem that has swept multiple generations for years and years, so kudos to Echosmith for breaking the taboo construct and speaking about a topic so sensitive, as this haunting, somewhat difficult-to-hear track is needed in society more than we think. We are indeed to lonely generation, and while Echosmith doesn’t really offer up any solutions, the constant questioning and probing remind us that we all need to have a look at ourselves in the mirror and determine whether they person we are right now is who we want to be and if not, how do we go about changing that narrative? With the rest of the album being immensely fun to listen to and a trip musically back to the 80’s where music styles were much simpler; it’s evident also that the lyrics are still meaty with weight and significance and also not overwhelming too.

We never expected “Cool Kids” to do what it did. We are beyond grateful that this song and the message in it has gotten to reach so many people, and help others through hard times. Our dream from the beginning was to make music with a purpose and to give people hope, and that song has done exactly that. It was so fun to be touring non-stop while “Cool Kids” was blowing up because we got to watch it grow in front of our eyes. More and more people started to sing along and then we started playing bigger shows and festivals. It was insane. I was only 16 when our first album came out and now I’m 22, so we’ve all gotten to really grow up and our music has grown up with us. We want to stay true to why people liked us in the first place, but we also think it’s so important to evolve musically and lyrically to keep it exciting. Our new album does exactly that.

I am so excited for everyone to hear Lonely Generation. We spent so much time on it and really made sure that every little keyboard sound and lyric you hear felt right. Even though it was a little scary, I got to be more vulnerable than ever with the lyrics and I’m so glad I did that. I wanted to be honest about how I was feeling and what I was going through, the good and the bad, because if I went through it, someone else is bound to go through something similar, and it’s so important to know that you’re not alone.

I could go on and on about Echosmith’s new album Lonely Generation but I won’t- that’s what my 5 star review is for! But I will touch upon some of my favourite songs and remind you all that this album is one of my favourite albums of the year (and probably will continue to be as the year progresses!) and that Sydney is only 22! She’s got quite a while to go in her music career- so we we dwell upon the kind of career Echosmith could have at the end of it all; well that’s really mind boggling! “Diamonds” is as encouraging as any song I’ve heard this year, with Sydney singing out about a fictitious girl who has low self-esteem and insecurity that she needn’t think that of herself, and she needn’t need to act like she has it all together, because she can change the world as she is, and in her own unique way. While the electric guitar led 80’s themed “Stuck” dives into the metaphors, as we are met with a story of a stuck and broken marriage or relationship as Sydney declares that her mind is stuck like a roller coaster, over-analysing every single detail, highlighting the tension of trying to see the good in a hopeless situation. And the moving and inspiring trio of “Everyone Cries”, “Scared To Be Alone” and “Lost Somebody” has Sydney putting on both her Plumb hat and Brooke Fraser hat vocally and lyrically, as she inspires and encourages, giving us all hope for the future in a society where we may feel trapped and alone and afraid. “Everyone Cries”, led by keys, is a sombre and reflective ballad letting us know that it’s ok to feel any and every kind of emotion because crying is part of the human condition and the human experience; while “Scared To Be Alone” has a Latin flavour to it musically, and has Sydney admitting that she thrives he most with people around her constantly, and that she’s scared to be alone. The revealing and confronting “Lost Somebody” complete with a unrelated but hilarious music video, rounds out the trio of encouraging songs, as Sydney reminds us all that relationships can be destroyed if we use the relationships for our own gain and not for the gains of others.

Yet probably a couple of the most relevant, personal, emotional and significant songs from the album for the band are “Follow You” and “I Don’t Want to Lose My Love”- the final two songs on the album which are special for Sydney- for reasons that I can’t say better than Sydney herself! – ‘…it’s a hard question [which songs are my favourite], because I love all of the songs for different reasons. But I’d say “Follow You” and “I Don’t Wanna Lose My Love” are two of my favorites, because they’re the final two tracks on the album. “Follow You” is such a personal song for me…I wasn’t sure if I wanted to put it on the album because it was so personal and vulnerable, but I’m glad I did. When people hear it, they’re going to get an inside look on me and into my heart, and how I was feeling at that moment. I wrote and recorded it in the middle of the night for my husband as a surprise. It was two weeks before we got married, and I wanted to play it for our first dance. When he heard it, it was a special moment for us, and for everyone at the wedding. It was a song that I wanted to give him as a wedding gift. “I Don’t Want To Lose My Love” is also an inside look into my heart and who I am. and it’s an emotional song. So I love both of those songs; I think they’re a great way to finish the album…’ Thus it definitely does seem as if Echosmith have saved the best songs for last- I seriously teared up a bit as I was listening to both “Follow You” and the album closer- and that’s how emotional and honest these songs, and overall this album is!

While we as a people have oooh-ed and aaahhhh-ed over Echosmith’s debut album and their sophomore album 6 years later- we mustn’t forget about the near-flawless 2017 EP Inside A Dream EP nor their hopeful and inspiring Christmas EP An Echosmith Christmas. From the poppy “Get Into My Car”, which basically highlights the fact that real relationships and investing time in them is the main thing we need to do in order to live a full life, to the introspective and reflective “Future Me”, where Sydney sings to her future self and her past self, reminding us all that the person we want to be tomorrow can be the person that we are today if we actively make the necessary changes in our own lives; to me it is the final track on the EP “Dear World” which epitomises why Echosmith make uplifting music! And as Sydney herself recounts in a press release how the track was written- I reckon there’s nothing to say about this song, except that it is God-ordained!

At the heart of Inside a Dream, Echosmith cling to the message that drove them from the start, which is their mission statement, “to spread hope and love through music to the whole world.” That message is driven home by the last track on the EP, and most recent single, “Dear World,” which is the band’s heartfelt journal entry to the world, encouraging positivity and unity. As a unit, the band states that the acoustic song is “our love letter to the planet. In the midst of all the chaos going on right now, we wanted to share this song in our best effort to share some hope. We feel like we can all be part of the solution and now it’s our chance to be the change!”

In May 2016, Echosmith tweeted that the rock band Switchfoot was a huge influence on the band, and one of the reasons they started making music. Sydney says that the San Diego alt-rockers’ concert was one of the first the Sierotas ever saw as a family. So it was a huge thrill when the group’s frontman Jon Foreman agreed to join them for a songwriting session. “My dad, Noah and I had the words ‘Dear world, I’m writing a song for you,” and we asked Jon what he thought. He loved it and came up with these magic lyrics to help develop the song from there. We spent a few hours in the studio vibing back and forth. Besides being hilarious, Jon is an amazing lyricist and some of the lines he came up with were genius. There are no need for word ‘placeholders’ when Jon is in the room.”

Is it premature to say that Echosmith are on their way to becoming new next Switchfoot? Not to put pressure on them, but the last album that made me think that much was indeed Switchfoot’s Native Tongue. So take that what you will, and let me say that Sydney, Noah and Graham deserve all the praise and all the accolades. In fact there have been many, many extra-circular activities that Echosmith have embarked on outside of their heartfelt tracks! With their song “Cool Kids” alone, the group have appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Today Show, Late Night with Seth Meyers, The Late Late Show with James Corden and other shows in support of that track, while Echosmith played at sold out shows throughout Europe and the U.S., as well as joining Taylor Swift as a special guest on her 1989 tour stop in Philadelphia to perform aforementioned hit in 2014. The group have also toured with Twenty One Pilots and Pentatonix over the years, and while we all can never forget the stunning duet with for KING & COUNTRY in “God Only Knows”, Echosmith also was guested on EDM tracks from Audien (“Favorite Sound”) and Florian Picasso (“But Us”); while also releasing a single only release in 2018 called “Over My Head”. While the band have also filmed videos for all 12 songs from Lonely Generation!

We did a video for every song on the album. We have 12 music videos that are ready to go. We filmed them all in seven or eight days, and we have so many different kinds of videos. We have fun ones like “Shut Up and Kiss Me,” and we also have some serious and emotional videos. We did the videos with Danny Drysdale, who’s a video director who’s worked with the Killers, and we love the Killers. He has such a unique style, and we were over the moon when he was down to do 12 videos with us. It was such a fun and crazy process—it was insane how much we got done on those days (laughs). It turned out so great, and Danny was such a great partner to work with. We’ll be releasing the videos, spreading them out next year.

I’ve also said time and time again that belief in the stories behind the song and the calling behind the song is paramount in terms of whether an artist is genuine, and whether an artist is as influential as the public makes them out to be. And we can see how hard Echosmith have worked throughout the years- how they’ve adapted and evolved through the loss of Jamie Sierota has a member and how they’ve coped with the constant changing musical landscape and they themselves experimenting with different sounds; it’s no wonder they’ve made my list of a future influential music artist! Mark my words everyone- in 10 years time, or maybe even 5 year’s time, Echosmith will be who everyone will be talking about! So mark the date and the time everyone! You heard it here first!

In a personal way, it was very challenging to just be vulnerable, period. In my personal life, even with friends and sometimes even family, I tend to just tell everyone that everything is great, no worries, life is perfect, and I’m good — even when sometimes I’m not. It was really a personal stretch, and a professional stretch, and a creative stretch, to tell myself to be vulnerable and to go there even when it felt scary.… It was definitely hard to push myself to do that, and also to have the guts to actually say, “Okay, let’s put that on the album and let anyone and everyone hear it.” But I’m really grateful that I did that because I’ve already got so many messages of people saying that they relate…. That’s the perfect response to me being vulnerable, especially when I felt scared to be. It inspired me to just keep doing that — keep digging in deeper to all the different parts of myself and sharing it with whoever needs to hear it.

Does Echosmith make the list for you all when you write your own ‘Influential Artists of the next 5-10 years’ list? Is there any song (other than “Cool Kids”, “Lonely Generation”, “Get Into My Car”, “Dear World”, and “Come Together”) that has impacted you on your journey through life thus far, or even your walk with God? Let us know in the comments. Till next time!

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