Interview: Echo

Mar 04 2014

East London and Essex based band Echo have taken some of the music they love, Motown and classic soul/dance, and given it a new lyrical twist to reflect the joy, truths and promises of their faith. LTTM caught up with band member Greg to find out more...

For those who haven't heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved in making music?

ECHO have fun adapting well known Motown and Soul songs to develop their ‘Bought Not Souled’ set and have been used to build bridges and attract crowds at a wide range of events. We've just released our first album with songs from the set.

Bought Not Souled is a flexible set of well known, carefully chosen secular material which has been suitably adapted to reflect our love for Jesus and may be played in a wide variety of places, even church.

We're made up of three singers, who have been singing together for a number of years and are able to naturally fall in to harmony with each other, and four experienced musicians. We all from East London and Essex and go to different churches and from different backgrounds.

Tell us a little bit about your new album 'Bought Not Souled' and what the inspiration behind it was?

Its a record, in the broadest sense of the word, of our Bought Not Souled set. We've found people love to sing along at gigs and the album gives everyone the chance to sing to the Lord in their car, bathroom etc to these fabulous old songs. We would always encourage anyone to sing to the Lord, hopefully the album will do that.

Which is your favourite track on the album and why

Bought Not SouledAm I allowed favourite children?! You're All I Need to Get By is a beautiful song, the original was on Motown by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell but ours is based on Aretha Franklin's version, bit more gospelly and soulful. It let's Marie get her teeth into the vocal, Juliette and Marion are really tight on the harmonies, especially the rising triplets bit and also Paul does an amazing job on the keys getting as close as he can to what is an outstanding string arrangement. The words are fantastic,

"Like sweet morning dew on the day I met you
And it was plain to see, you where my destiny
With my arms open wide, I threw away my pride
I sacrificed for you, dedicated my life to you
I would go where you lead
You'll be right there in my time of need
And when I lose my will
You'll be right there to push me up that hill"

We've only swapped a word or two but try to sing that to the Lord without being filled with joy!

Why did you decide to include a mixture of studio and live tracks on the album?

We love playing live, and we wanted to catch some of the dynamic of our gigs. We always get involved in the audience, and get a great response, the girls are fab at that. Also, I think we wanted to show that we can play pretty tight and get a big sound with just the few of us without any studio gadgetry. Showing off I suppose!

What sort of reaction do you get from audiences when you perform those soul classics with a lyrical twist?

I can honestly say, not a bad one yet from either Christian or not-yet-a-Christian audiences. We've been surrounded by people of all sorts of faiths boogieing along, we've also had some pretty rough looking sorts standing with their arms folded grinning at us out on the street.

The music is acceptable across many ethnic and cultural boundaries and, when sung with the right spirit, can cross those boundaries. Again, it's mostly the girls, they love to get right involved with whoever is there, dancing with them, chatting to them etc. Even if people find our faith repellent they get over it with the groove.

Who are your musical influences?

For me, as the bass player, with the material ECHO play, it's the usual; James Jamerson, the Motown bass player who's played on more hits than The Beatles and Elvis put together, I so hope to meet him in Glory; Bernard Edwards from Sister Sledge/Chic, so classy! I'm right into Larry Graham at the moment, we're learning Dance to the Music as a result - and I'm learning so much more about groove!

How would you define success in your career as a group?

We're here to take worship of the Lord Jesus into places where it's not generally seen. So when we do, that is a success. We're here to show people who may not otherwise meet Him, Jesus. Every time we do that, it's success. We're here to make a difference in someone's life. We love that sort of feedback more than any other.

We have other goals, like improving our music, singing, stage presentation, I even practice my bass(!) but these are just tools to achieve those definitions of success. We're here to serve.

You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your mp3 player. What track is it?

If I chose The Who's Quadrophenia, the tracks are kind of linked, would that count? Ok, one song, actually I think I'd have 'You're All I Need To Get By', would be quite poignant being stuck on an island! (Aretha's version!)

What does the next year hold for Echo?

Great question thanks! Our plans include:
Getting into the Essex and London pub circuit. Our album should be a suitable demo to get us going.
Developing a (semi) unplugged set for coffee bars etc.
I'd like to start thinking brass and strings. Paul would be great at arranging them, and the sound of those instruments would be amazing. Maybe just thinking about that would be a plan for this year!
Festivals - we're aware we always need to be promoting ourselves, we think playing some festivals would open us up to lots of new people.
Saving up and arranging new songs for the next album. Learnt so much with the first one, been bitten now, want a bigger budget and we'll make it fabulous!

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