INTERVIEW

Ambient pop that’s bedded the most frigid of indie blogs.

Photography by Owen Richards

Photography by Owen Richards

AMBIENT POP THAT’S BEDDED THE MOST FRIGID OF INDIE BLOGS

Thom drums his fingers incessantly on the table, keeping time with Linda’s bobs and sways. The two of them are gently bouncing around Echo Lake’s stratospheric ascent into the blogosphere.

“Are we wary of our Internet presence,” ponders Linda. “Well I don’t know if wary is the right word, but we know how to search for Echo Lake on Twitter if that’s what you mean?” she laughs.

“I didn’t until yesterday, actually,” says Thom. “When I finally did I wished I hadn’t.”

“I think we’ve been kept in a safety bubble of nice words on the blogs,” says Linda, “and now the EP is coming out it’s starting to get a bit scary for us.”

“It’s just strange that someone has any kind of opinion,” finishes Thom, who often concludes topics this evening.

Self effacing and ambitious at the same time, Echo Lake surf this disparity in charming fashion. Feted before they’d even played live, their intuitive take on ambient pop caused quite a stir amongst the Internet elite; Pitchfork, Gorilla vs. Bear and 20 Jazz Funk Greats all throwing flirtatious looks before a guitar had been plugged in.

“It’s cool because it gave us a big confidence boost,” enthuses Thom. “We thought, fuck yeah, let’s just keep writing; we must be doing something right. We’ve got tons of new stuff now as it’s motivated us to work.”

“All I ever wanted was to release one little 7 inch,” he continues, “one A side split with another band, and now we are doing it, out of the blue.”

Echo Lake’s rise has been speedy even by today’s fast and loose digital age standards. Within a week of the band posting new tracks on Myspace, after a particularly bleak Monday, London indie label No Pain In Pop had boarded Echo Lake’s boat and the ‘Young Silence’ EP was in motion. ‘We were having one of those days weren’t we?” Thom wryly smiles at Linda.

“Yeah,” she says, “we just didn’t care, we thought let’s just get these out there and we don’t mind if they sound shit!”

And there they go again with the self-deprecation. But there’s reasoning behind the modesty. Echo Lake’s visceral soundscapes are steeped in reverb and awash with layers and tones – theirs is a sound welcome to criticism just as much as glowing praise, perhaps party to finding an authentic sound.

“Well, we had a bit of stick for the set of tracks we mixed for the EP from the people around us saying they’re hard to listen to,” explains Thom, “so I got a bit obsessive with it and we couldn’t be happier now.” The subject is definitely close to his heart. “It’s not just reverb I like,” he continues. “I like playing with ambient sounds too – how much can we add for a pop song? What other drones can we add to this? And other textures.”

Glad someone brought up the P word. Echo Lake’s pop sensibilities intertwine through their lo-fi palette to create something striking, but when you hear Thom and Linda’s influences everything falls into place. “I’m listening to a lot of Four Tops at the moment,” says Thom, “and Godspeed, always been into Godspeed,” he intones, another fitting contrast in a conversation full of them. “We consider our music to be pop music – it’s our version of it.”

“…And we just want to make recognisable songs,” says Linda to Thom’s tap tap tap.

Every pop song must have a pop video – it’s in the rules, and Echo Lake are no exception. So to coincide with the ‘Young Silence’ EP comes three minutes of pioneering vision. Pulling in a favour from 20 Jazz Funk Greats’ Dan Nixon, the sometime film-maker created the first Microsoft Kinect music video. Like Radiohead’s promo for ‘House of Cards’, or Avatar if it wasn’t shit, the band are visually breaking ground. “We do try and form our own visual identity,” says Thom. “The new video literally just came up online today, I haven’t seen it yet! Are we even able to talk about it,” he whispers.

“Yep. If it’s up on the Internet we are!” giggles Linda. “If you’re not a nerd it’s hard to explain what it’s like – it’s sort of us as 3D dots. It captures a 2D image and our bodies react in a 3D environment… erm, I’ll ask Dan!”

Riiiiggght. It’s probably best to catch it online. Judging by the blog world’s proclivity to a bit of Echo Lake, it’ll be hard to miss. As thoughts turn to other members of the band (there are five of them when they’re onstage), old friends and even older hometowns, a sense of calm settles on Thom and Linda, a duo propelled forward by industry buzz.

“Thom’s up and down about it all,” Linda tells us. “He’s always saying, ‘I’m not sure I can be bothered with this anymore.’” She looks at Thom. “‘No way,’ I say back. This is the best fun we’ve ever had!’”

By Ian Roebuck

Originally published in issue 25 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. February 2011

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