Q&A: The Echo Exchange

in SF Local Bands by

How did you come up with the name of the band?
As the band was forming, our bassist, Bod was obsessing over “Echoes” by Pink Floyd, so popped up as part of the name. But to take it to the full band name, we sat down and thought about how we write music together: The Echo Exchange described our songwriting process: we come together with song ideas and bounce them off of each other. As echoes reverberate, they are changed, sometimes subtly, sometimes more drastically. Our music is the same way, we all put our stamp onto the music as it bounces back and forces at our writing sessions.

How would you describe your sound?
Our music is Indie rock, but with a strong pop sensibility. The addition of Deuce on horns helps to bring in a soul/jazz element that helps to set us apart. Tess has a really powerful but clean and clear voice, which helps to keep us from falling too far down the indie rabbit hole and helps guide us towards something radio-playable.

When did you first become interested in playing music?
We have all been playing since we were kids. Tess minored in music/vocals in college, DJ and Deuce both played jazz band in high school, Wes was a huge drumline nerd, and Bod picked up the bass as an escape when he fell into some bad habits in his youth.

What’s the strangest or funniest thing that’s ever happened to you at a show?
We played a single stage festival on a river up in Placerville. Everybody camps, sets up their chairs in the river and just watches music from 11 am to 4 am the following morning. It’s just 3 days of music, booze, dirt, and awesome food. We had been talking about how we needed a mascot and as a joke, Wes suggested a moose. Right then he looked down and there was a tiny plastic toy moose on the ground. He is less than one inch tall. We immediately adopted him and named him Echo and he goes to every show with us now.

What are you listening to these days?
Tame Impala is making the rounds on our shared Spotify list. As a guitar aficionado, Khruangbin is blowing my (DJ’s) mind right now. I’ve always tinkered with modifying my guitar and shaping my sound with unique pedals, but he takes it to a new level. Deuce has a life-long love for the music of Sonny Rollins.

What’s your take on why so many musicians are leaving San Francisco for Oakland?
I can’t really speak for why they are doing that other than space and availability. That being said, it’s rough being a musician on either side of the bridge. Venues are being squeezed, national companies are buying up a lot of what is left and only playing “their” acts, and studio space is at a serious premium. That being said, people in both cities want to see new bands playing something new and unique. We love them both, but we are definitely SF based, Deuce is our sole Oakland representative, the rest of us live in the city.

What are some of your favorites hangs in the Bay Area and why?
The Plough and Stars on Clement street is our neighborhood drinking spot. Whenever we feel like we need a tune-up show before something bigger, we let them know when we want to play and they let us do our thing. It’s a great low key spot where you can just hang out and drink and play music when we feel like it. The local crowd there is always appreciative of whatever you’re putting forward. Plus it’s an ultra small stage, so we get to hone the edge so to speak in a really intimate space.

What does music mean to you?
Music reflects the intersection of all the cultures that shaped you. Every group of people, culture, etc has their own music, their own instruments, and musicians are right there alongside foodies as the first people to embrace foreign ideas and concepts and combine them with their own. I think it is a really important way of connecting cultures and ideologies and bringing people together.

How’d you guys first get together to play music?
I wish I could say we had a killer origins story, but really we met the way most bands meet: a combination of connections from past bands/musicians we knew and a craigslist ad looking for other musicians in the area.

What inspires you to write?
We are inspired by what has transcended in our various personal lives. We’ve all gone through good times and bad times and they both influence what we write. Sometimes when you let yourself start to write lyrics, you uncover feelings and thoughts you didn’t realize were there. I think the best lyrics are ones where you discover something in the process. We intentionally never write about anything political. The political climate these days skews so strongly towards division, and we want our music to unite people of all viewpoints.

What’s your favorite neighborhood in the city and why?
You mean for burritos? The mission. Clearly the highest density of killer delicious burritos in the city. If you get bored of burritos (as if that is possible!) there are so many other great restaurants there in every genre, multiple breweries, hole in the wall music venues, etc.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you?
I think most people who haven’t seen us would be surprised to see a sax player on stage. Its such an underutilized instrument these days. The other thing that surprises people is Bod’s accent. You’d swear he was Jon Snow.

Is there anything you’d like to plug?
We are releasing our Album on June 29th upstairs at the Neck of the Woods. Its gonna be a party! Our album will be released that day on Spotify, iTunes, etc, so definitely give it a listen.

Having released albums under Digital Nations, a label founded by Steve Vai, music critic Louis Raphael has remained deeply connected to the pulse of the San Francisco music scene. Following his tenure as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.

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