Saturday, 27 August 2011

ECHO LAKE Interview

Leaving their contemporaries treading water in the same old genres, Echo Lake are diving deep into musical discovery. They aren’t afraid to do funky, math-y and ambient stuff on the side while they win hearts with their “suffocating” pop.

Interview Location : The Old Blue Last Pub, London.
Interview Duration : About half an hour.
Interuptions : A pesky wasp flying about.
Vibes : Peachy.

How was the band formed?
Linda : Me and Thom were at college together and we talked a lot about music. Thom had wrote some songs on his own and as we became better friends, we talked more about doing music together. And I sang on some of the songs Thom had done…so that’s how the recording started. And then we put them online and got offered some gigs. So we figured we needed a band. And then we got Thom’s friends to join in and play live with us. So then we became a band.
Thom : It all kind of really happened by accident.
What were you studying at college?
Linda : I was doing graphic design and Thom was doing illustration but we were in the same class, as they taught the subjects together.
Thom : We were really bad students.
Why did you choose the name Echo Lake?
Thom : Because…I don’t know, I was looking for a name for ages and nothing ever seemed right. Everything was already taken or didn’t sound…but then ‘Echo Lake’ was a painting by a guy called Peter Doig. And yeah, I kinda said it out loud, said it to Linda.

Linda : Sounded good. Sounded perfect.

Thom : It was the first name that I had suggested to anyone where an eyebrow wasn’t raised. We didn’t really think at the time. I think if we could change it, we would probably call ourselves something else now.

Linda : A lot of people are saying that the name really suites our music but we didn’t even think about the word ‘echo’ or what it meant. You know, we didn’t really think about that.

Thom : It’s just a great painting, he’s my favourite artist…so it seemed like a nice thing to name it after.
Was there a specific style of music you set out to make?
Linda : It’s just what came out really.

Thom : I think like, when I made the EP, I was trying to make, a kind of like, really suffocating sound. Like, loads of drones, loads of layers and then it was Linda’s job to make it sound like pop music. And now as time has sort of gone on over the last year, I guess the music is a bit more…a bit more in a direction. We kind of know what we are trying to do a bit more. It’s not  like a, shoegaze-y kind of thing. It was never meant to be like shoegazing music, everyone says that. But it was meant to be more ambient droning music, like, trying to be pop music. And if you see us live, it’s definitely not shoegaze.

Linda : I think people have mistaken us for shoegaze, maybe, because of the loudness. We play loud.

Thom : I appreciate that, the shoegaze aesthetic, and that makes sense and I don’t have a problem with it, but erm…and it does suite. But it’s not what we are trying to do. And like now, I think the newer stuff we’ve got is a bit more soulful, it’s a bit more…it’s bigger, isn’t it?

Linda : Yeah, it feels a little bit more confident as well.

Thom : Yeah, definitely.

Linda : Not as much burying of the singing or millions of layers.

Thom : I don’t think we buried it in layers because we were uncomfortable. It was like trying actually, to do something a little bit different. Kind of this really suffocating sound, which could actually be quite pleasant. But then, I think a lot of people just took it for…you know.
People are quick to put a name on things.
Thom : That’s fine though, because you need that.

Linda : It helps people, like you read about us, so you thought you’d listen to us.
It does help.
Thom : I’m the same when I’m reading about other bands, if this band sound like so and so, I’ll be like ‘they are worth checking out then’.
What’s the best gig you have played so far?
Linda : We’ve played so many now. I think the first one where we thought we’d played the best gig was when we played our EP launch party here.

Thom : Yeah, upstairs here. I still think that’s the best one.

Linda : We’ve had a few really good ones.
Thom : Field Day was great the other day. That was a lot of fun.
Linda : Yeah, we’ve only really done two festivals where you play outdoors.
Thom : What about that one?
Linda : 1-2-3-4?
Thom : Nah, the other one supporting Wire. There was loads of people there.
Linda : The venue was just so good.
Thom : It was like a proper rock show.
Linda : We were on this huge stage, in a big room and it sounded really good, to us.
Thom : To us it felt like an arena show, because it was like an air hanger in there.
Linda : Yeah, it was a big show.

: I still think the best one for me is the one upstairs here for the EP launch. It just topped off a perfect week. We released the EP on the Monday, Saturday we came and played here and we’d sold out the EP.
How did it feel to have your EP sell out so quickly?
Thom : I don’t know really.

Linda : It was good, but it was a bit sad because we’d never released anything before, so on the release date we met up, went into Rough Trade because we wanted to see our record in the shop but they didn’t even have it in stock because they had sold it all out on the pre-orders.

Thom : We had nothing to sell at our launch, which was a bit sad but it kind of topped off a great week. And then NME reviewed it a couple of weeks later. It happened just like that, I mean, I’ve been reading NME, well, buying it when I was about eleven. So it’s really weird, to open it and see us.

Linda : Your face wasn’t in it. (Laughs)
Thom : Mine was just behind you.
Linda : Oh yeah. (Laughs)

Are there any bands that influence your sound?

Thom : I don’t know, I just listen to so much stuff. I think I always listen to the production of stuff.
Linda : And I always listen to the vocal melody. I think it’s just a combination of listening to so much music for the past like two years.
Thom : At the moment I can’t stop listening to Neu!, but it’s only because of how the drums sound. Well, no, the music’s great but all I’m thinking is ‘how do they get the drums to sound like that?’. There must be an easy way.
Linda : And I never think about that for a second. That never crosses my mind. (Laughs)
Thom : There is no direct influence on it. I think it’s just everything…I mean, we’ve got stuff, we’ve got stuff on our internal hard drive that we will probably never put out. Because it doesn’t really flow with what we are doing at the moment. But it’s different. We’ve got really ambient stuff, really kinda rock-y stuff. Even some quite technical, kinda math-y stuff.
Linda : And some funky stuff.
Thom : Yeah, but this kind of stuff will never see the light of day.
Linda : Unless somebody robs us. Maybe don’t print that… (Laughs)
Thom : It’s not bad, we like it, it’s just…
Maybe it’ll all be on a massive compilation one day.
Linda : Yeah, B-Sides and that. We’ve got one folder that’s the album. And some tracks kind of get picked out and others added all the time. And there is another folder that’s B-sides, there’s like another albums worth.
Thom : I’ll spend a week listening to ambient stuff and then at the end of the week just write a massive ten minute piece of ambient music. It’s still Echo Lake but there is no real direction. I just listen to Bruce Springsteen all the time and that definitely doesn’t influence our sound.
Linda : I just listen to The Cranberries all the time.
What’s your favourite song you have written?
Thom : For me, I think ‘Buried At Sea’.
Linda : We’ve got a new one that’s my favourite. It’s called ‘Wild Peace’.
Thom : I like them all really but we’re finishing an album at the moment. I think you kind of have to like what you are doing. Because like, I was reading about The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, and they did an EP then they did their first album and half the EP was on that album. Like, we could do that if we wanted to. We could like re-record and re-mix the EP and put it on our first album.
Linda : We’re doing it a little bit, we’ve re-recorded one of the songs called ‘In Dreams’ and we are putting that on the album.
Thom : Well yeah, it’s not definite. But we are not like, looking back. It’s just the stuff we write now, we think is better. It’s hard to pick a favourite. But I’m going to say ‘Buried At Sea’.
Is that a good one to play live?
Thom : We don’t play it live any more.
Linda : We stopped playing it because we thought it kind of kills the song because it’s such a nice recording. We’ll probably bring it back when we get different equipment.
Thom : The way we played it live, it was almost like tropical. But it needs to be chilled out. I think our new favourite is ‘Wild Peace’ but no one has heard that one yet.

Why did you choose the label No Pain In Pop to release your EP?
Thom : They chose us really. (Laughs)
Did you get lots of offers?
Thom : It’s weird because when we first started, we put the songs up on the Monday, by the Friday we had been blogged about. That’s when No Pain In Pop got to us. They were one of the first, like, we’d had record labels contact us but…
Linda : With No Pain In Pop, we knew a lot of the stuff they did and some of our friends had had music released on them. They are just a really great label.
Thom : We had heard good things about them.
Linda : They did a lot of gigs in London and we’d been to them and they were always really great.
Thom : We’ve never had a formal record deal. It’s not like No Pain In Pop signed us. But they are our managers, like they manage us. We’ve done an EP and a single with them. They were the best bet to go for because we work so well together. And they are so patient as well. I think when we were being blogged about last summer, someone else would have wanted to rush an EP or a single out while the hype was still going.
Linda : They let us wait until February, just so we could get it right. There is absolutely no rush, so we can do what we like.
What do you want people to get from your music?
Thom : I don’t know, just like it I guess. I still can’t imagine people saying ‘Echo Lake’ in the way that I talk about bands.
Linda : I like thinking about people putting it on at home. They’ll put it on and start cleaning the house. I find it weird to think that people sit around and then think ‘oh, I’ll put this on’.
Thom : I don’t know, just for people to enjoy it really.
Have you hear yourselves on a DJ set or at a party yet?
Thom : We heard ourselves once down here (The Old Blue Last pub). I don’t know, just a couple of times.
Linda : I heard us at a club night but it was someone from No Pain In Pop DJing.
Thom : There was a guy, what was his name? The guy who had the baby.
Linda : Stuart. When his wife was pregnant, they listened to our song ‘In Dreams’ in the last hours of the pregnancy.
Thom : So he said that song will always remind him of the day his baby was born. It’s like the nicest thing anyone has ever said. I think I met him when I was drunk and I was like ‘oh my god…’, that was really embarrassing.
Have you always had a positive re-action to your music?
Linda : We’ve had negative reactions too.  Especially with our music video. We had a video for our song ‘Young Silence’ and the director, Dan, used an Xbox Connect to film it. So he was like the first person to of done it. And so the video got onto a lot of technology blogs. It had like a hundred thousand views. But on the technology blogs, the people commenting just really hated the music and were saying nasty things.

It’s quite easy to be evil on the internet because you don’t have to look at anyone.
Thom : It was really nerdy, techy blokes.
Linda : They were comparing us to Evanescence.
Thom : Yeah, Evanescence and Linkin Park are their favourite bands so…and I think our first EP review was fine. But I read it and the guy was saying ‘the first rule of song writing is…’ and he goes on about these rules of writing songs. And he was kind of slagging us off because we don’t follow these rules that he said we should. Isn’t that defeating the object? You know, the purpose of making new music. I only let it upset me for about half an hour until someone tells me to chill out.
Are there any bands that you are listening to or playing gigs with that you really like?
Thom : I think locally, I really like The Proper Ornaments.
Linda : Yeah, they are great.
Thom : I think they have got a great sound and they have nailed it.
Linda : I really like a band, they are a band of my friends, they are called Novella. They just had their first single out. I went to their single launch and it was really good.
Thom : I’ve just been listening to, like, famous bands…just Neu! all the time.
Linda : There is just so many phases of what we listen to. I can’t even remember what I was listening to this morning. Our guitarist likes to send us albums to listen to.
Thom : Washed Out!
Linda : I was listening to Washed Out this morning.
Thom : We went to see Washed Out, the day after the riots in London. We were a bit like: ‘Should we go out? Should we not?’
Linda : It was one of the only gigs in London that didn’t get cancelled.
Thom : It was just really eerie out on the streets. I just kinda felt like the news were scare-mongering people. And there were sirens going around all the houses but they probably weren’t even going anywhere, they were just trying to scare people. So I just thought ‘let’s go out’ and it was ace. Washed Out was amazing, he was better than the record. He sings differently live, he kind of croons.
Linda : I didn’t go to the gig, I wasn’t feeling well.
Do you have any plans to release any albums or EPs in the future?
Thom : Well, the EP is coming out in Japan, that’s in November.
Linda : With some bonus tracks. We’re just finishing up the album.
Thom : I think we are hoping to release something in America at some point. And you know, just this morning I missed my train because I was recording guitar lines and trying to finish up all the stuff on the album. We’ve got about three more to finish and then we’ve got an album.
Linda : We don’t know what the plan is for the album yet. Just chuck it around and see if anyone wants to put it out. Maybe put it out ourselves. I think the plan is to finish it within the next month. We’ll see.
Thanks guys!
Thom : Yeah, no worries.

Photography By Jack Parker

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