By Thomas S. Orwat Jr.
The New York City based, Echo Black is one of the most innovative new bands in music today. This genre blending quartet, was formed in 2015, by the dynamic, flamboyant and androgynous singer/songwriter, Danny Blu. In additon to Blu, Echo Black consists of three other equally amazing musicians: Felix Skiver-guitar, Rob Gnarly -bass, and Billy Long- drums.
Echo Black, soon after forming, hit the road and quickly built up a loyal and dedicated fanbase with their high energy, theatrical performances.
In 2017, Echo Black independently released their debut record entitled, “Dawn.” This 12 track release, showcases the band’s true talent as songwriters.
‘Dawn’ is an epic, ground breaking, musical masterpiece. This release could very well inspire and influence the landscape of music today.
Echo Black is currently on tour with The City of The Weak. This is a must see tour!!!
What follows is an exclusive RockMusicStar.com interview with Echo Black’s -Danny Blu.
RockMusicStar: Let’s start off by discussing the current tour that Echo Black is performing on. You are touring with another upcoming band, City of the Weak. Is this a true co-headling tour, in which the two bands will alternate who plays last?
Danny Blu: It’s a co-headlining tour. We switch it up, depending on which market is better for which band. In the mid-west and south, City of the Weak will headline, and we will take the Northeast and east coast.
RMS: You just played the first date on the tour a couple of days ago. How did it go?
DB: I’m not going to lie; it was definitely the first show (laughs). It was one in which you work out the kinks. We got as prepared as we possibly could, but things always seem to go a bit array on the first show, at least in my experience of touring. And then, you figure what is wrong, and fix it for the next show, which we did last night. We were able to tighten everything up and do it the right way.
RMS: This current tour is scheduled for a little more than a month, correct?
DB: Yeah, we have 26 shows in 29 days on this tour, so a little over a month.
RMS: What are your touring plans afterwards?
DB: We are looking at possibly another tour in June; nothing confirmed yet. And then, we are getting back to the studio in the fall.
RMS: Originally, you started off your career as a solo artist. What led to your decision to form Echo Black, in 2015?
DB: I started making music in 2010. I formed a band in 2011, and we went through a couple of line-up changes. Then, we went on our first tour, as Danny Blu in 2014. When we got back from that tour, we decided to go forward, and stick together as a band. So, we started writing and recording together. It felt like much more than a solo project- more like a band- and we wanted to honor that. At that point, we took about three months, figured out a name, Echo Black, and how to effectively switch all of our social media without losing any of our original fans. Ultimately, changing (from Danny Blu to Echo Black), felt more respectable to the other members of the band, as well, who were putting in as much work as I was.
RMS: Well, it’s a great band, as is evident on your debut release, ‘Dawn,” which was released in 2017. It’s really a fantastic record! It’s fresh sounding, innovative and groundbreaking!
DB: Thank you!
RMS: The songs on ‘Dawn,” flow really well together, almost like a concept record. Was this the intention?
DB: Yes! Thank you so much for saying that! Absolutely, we are a theatrical band. We wear makeup, we wear costumes, we have a stage show, it’s lights and everything. That’s what we want our music to be: cinematic and theatrical.
That’s what we aimed for (on ‘Dawn’); that’s why we have a beginning, middle and end. We want to take the listener from point A to point B, and take them on a journey throughout the entire record. I’m so glad that you picked up on that. We definitely want the record to be a cool story. Albums used to be the thing; everyone put out an album. Now, it’s all just singles being released, and nothing really flows together. We grew up during the 90’s, and love the era of the album. We wanted to recreate that, in a current year setting.
RMS: Before you released, ‘Dawn,’ you filmed a few rather incredible music videos.
DB: Yes, thank you. During that switch, from Danny Blu to Echo Black, we wanted to make sure that the fans were taken from point A to point B. Since we were going for a newer sound- different from Danny Blu- we put out, “Burn Another Day,” “Perfect,” and “Chemicals,” before the release of , ‘Dawn,’ to help with the transition from Danny Blu to Echo Black.
With our videos, we try to take our fans on a journey of what we were seeing in our heads when writing the songs. That is super important, as far as the internet goes. Nowadays, it’s so hard, because you can love a band, and never see them perform live. I could love a band from Japan, and never see them live. But, if they put out these great videos and give me the vision of where they were in their head, when they wrote the music, then I know them a little more. It’s very important to us, to reach the fans in that way.
RMS: You released, ‘Dawn,’ independently, which was a bit surprising to me because it sounds just as good as any major label big budget release.
DB: Thank you. Yes, we are totally independent. The only thing we have is a manager. We were able to put more money into the recording because we funded it through indie go-go. We wanted to raise $10,000, and we ended up raising $13,000, which is kind of cool. The fans paid for the album before they even heard it, which is crazy. But, we were able to put that all into production, and into the, “Dawn,” video, which helped push the album really well. I think it turned out and sounds great, as far as independent releases go.
RMS: Did you, at anytime, try to shop the record to a major label?
DB: No, we didn’t shop it at all. We are kind of in a place where we don’t care if we get signed. Eventually, I guess… we would love it, for the support. But, we are in place where we can keep touring and keep growing the fan base on our own. We are making enough where we can fund that, at this point. So, as long as we can keep doing that on our own, keeping this living and breathing thing that we created growing, we can then, hopefully, get a label to come to us, as opposed to us going to them.
But, I think that if your main focus is getting signed, then you are making music for the wrong people. If you just want to impress the label head, you are going to write for him, and what reaches the most people. I want to reach the people that I want to reach, and send the message that I want to send. That’s not to the label, it’s to my fanbase.
RMS: What is your game plan for the new music that you plan on recording in the fall? Do you plan on releasing singles as you write them, or will you wait until all the songs are written and ready for release?
DB : I’m really not sure yet. I guess, it depends on the financing that we can get. We may do an EP, we may do a single or a full-length. We just recently filmed two new music videos off of, ‘Dawn,’ that we will be releasing after this tour, probably in the summer.
In my mind, right now, our next recording will be a shorter, five song EP, but that could change. That’s kind of the nice thing about not having a label, is that you don’t have anyone telling you what to do. You can change your mind, and put out whatever you want.
RMS: I guess that certainly would be an advantage. How would you classify the sound of Echo Black?
DB: We call it Dance Rock. We want our music to be music that you can either dance to, or head bang to. That’s what we try to encapsulate in our genre. We think that, “Pop Rock,” is too vague of a term.
When I started writing music, I was super influenced by bands like: Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, and orgy-type bands of the 90s.
But, when I moved to New York, in high school, I got super into the pop scene. That was like 2007-8, when I got into Lady Gaga, and some of the darker pop acts that were emerging. Bands that were taking those industrial rock tones and putting them into pop music.
So those two worlds of music mashed together when i started creating my own music. And I think that’s what the sound of Echo Black is, the mix of melodic pop mixed with heavy industrial and rock influences, and that’s what makes it dance rock music.
RMS: Echo Black certainly has a very fresh, unique style. Do you envision the band evolving, stylistically on the new material?
DB: Yeah, I see us going mildly heavier. Going maybe, not quite Active rock, but with a more melodic rock edge to it. But, a little less pop, but still with a dance flair to it, to keep it bright, and keep it up. But, the, ‘Dawn,’ album is really all over the place, as far as having a lot of different genre influences. One song to the next is a different mindset. The theory, in my head when we were writing it, was that the intro, intermission and the finale where all one story line. In between those three things, are experiences that we had through out our lives. So, there is a narrator that gives you the intro, intermission and finale, and the music experiences through lives are told through each song.
I think, to be a little more concise, with whatever we try to do next, is to compress it down a bit, take out the highs and the lows and make it more concise from each song to the next.
RMS: What is the song writing process like for the band?
DB: It depends. We all write together, and when we get into a room, a lot of the times we all have ideas that we have been working on individually. There really is no set structure on how we write. But, it really makes it interesting doing it this way.
RMS: The record, ‘Dawn,’ is filled with some very profound, insightful and powerful lyrics. Do you write the lyrics?
DB: Thank you. That definitely comes from my 80s and 90s influences. The 90s alt. rock era was very lyric heavy. And unfortunately, these days, lyrics are a little less important, which I don’t appreciate. I’m really into lyrics being an important part in a song. I do write most of the lyrics, like 90% of them. The rest of the band will filter in when I’m stuck.
RMS: Is the process of writing lyrics something that comes naturally for you?
DB: I never sit down and tell myself to write lyrics. It usually happens on the subway in New York when I’m coming to, or from work. I don’t know why, but the subway to me is like the one place where you are actually alone, which is weird because you are surrounded by people. But, no one on the subway really talks to anybody, and you are in your own little world. I think that’s why I feel like I can creatively go to a place inside my head and not worry about anything.
So, if I’m writing lyrics, I will listen to the music track over and over again. Or sometimes, I’ll sit on one word, and go from there. I usually will write the chorus first, and then form the story with the verses around that. It usually comes from one hook, there will be three notes in my head, which I think sound great. Three syllables, vowel sounds that fit well with those notes, and then the words come from there. And then, the story comes from those words, and then it snowballs….usually (laughs).
RMS: That’s very interesting. Where do you see Echo Black in three years from now?
DB: Madison Square Garden!!! (Laughs) I don’t know, but hopefully we will have a massive fanbase and on a giant major label. That’s my hopes.
For more on Echo Black, please visit www.echoblackmusic.com
Purchase tickets for Echo Blue/City of The Weak – Buffalo, NY April 30, 2018 click here
Special thank you to Tom George for setting up this interview.
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