Echosmith: 'Cool Kids' talk music, tour life and more before Minneapolis tour stop [INTERVIEW]

If you turned on the radio at all in 2014, chances are you heard the song Cool Kids, a universally relatable, super catchy anthem by the sibling pop band Echosmith. The song thrust the band – comprised of lead singer Sydney Sierota and her brothers: Graham, the drummer; Noah, bassist and supporting vocals; and at the time, Jamie, lead guitarist. It hit number 13 on the Billboard 100, appeared in MTV’s hit show Awkward, and the band performed it on stage with Taylor Swift during her 1989 tour in 2015.

Echosmith’s members were kids themselves when they released the song and their debut album “Talking Dreams” in 2013. Jamie was the oldest, then about 19, while the others were still in high school or even middle school. Five years later, Jamie has left the group to be home with his wife and new baby, but Sydney, now 21, Noah, 22, and Graham, 19, are back with more music that shows their talent and knack for creating loveable earworms is just as good as – or better than – ever.

The band released a seven-track EP last fall called “Inside a Dream,” with the song Goodbye as its lead single. It was originally intended to be a full-length album and connected to a tour set for the same time, but the group pushed back both, to develop the album further.  Now, they’re about seven shows into their “Inside a Dream” tour, with their second full album forthcoming.

A recent stop on the tour brought the siblings – who hail from Chino, California and whose musical family affair includes their dad Jeffery David as manager and their mother Linda as tour manager – to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Before their show at the renowned venue First Ave, Amanda Ostuni from The Celebrity Cafe was able to sit down with Sydney, Noah and Graham to talk about the album, their creative processes, reshaping themselves as a trio, their mutual love of food, and more.

Here’s what they had to say: What’s the status of the album?

Sydney Sierota: The album is coming in the summer. We released the longest EP ever to hold everyone over because the album was supposed to come out, but we just felt like we needed a little more time, because there were a couple more songs that we wanted to add to the album that we felt were really important, and also songs that we wrote even since that announcement, that we’re really glad that we took the time to delay the album so that these next songs can make it on there. I think it will be a lot more of a complete album now, and one that we can fully stand behind.

TCC: How many songs will be on it?

SS: Not exactly sure yet, but probably around 11-ish.

TCC: How do you feel about it at this time?

SS: We’re really excited for the album, especially since it’s been a while since we put out our first album, so it’ll be really nice to have this official mark of a next step in our career – even though we are on tour right now, for the EP, but it’ll be nice to officially be on the second record cycle and really go for it and make sure that it’s all cohesive. So, we’re really excited and really happy with the music, most importantly, and I’m really glad that we feel that way.

TCC: Will the name be the same as the EP?

SS: I think we’re gonna change it, actually. That’s kind of what we’re fighting about right now. We’re going back and forth on the name, and also which songs are making it on the album. But the music is mostly done. I think we’re gonna add maybe one more song right now. But yeah, we’re deciding on the album title. It will be different.

TCC: With “Inside a Dream” and “Talking Dreams,” it’s clear you were going for a story. What made you want to connect those works?

Noah Sierota: I think for us, “Inside a Dream” as coming after “Talking Dreams,” we wanted to kind of show kind of an homage to the past, but also here’s where we are now, and those songs (from before) really represented where we were at the time we were writing them. And I think for the album, we’ll kind of end that “dreams” story and try to create something else. But it was cool, especially because it was our EP and it was a bit of a transitional kind of release, that it recognized what the people, our fans, loved from our first record – that feeling of dreaming of what life could be, and like ok, “we’re in that, we’re living life, we’re growing up, we’re experiencing all these different things, what is that like now?” We tried our best to be honest on that record. I really love the lyrical content that we put out on it.

TCC: Why did you decide on the dream theme in the first place?

SS: We were just so excited about life and excited for what was to come, especially with our first album – everything was so new, and we got signed finally, and we were just excited. We wrote a song called Talking Dreams that was super easy to write, probably the easiest song on the album to write, and it was just such a fun song and I feel like it really showed who we were and what we were looking forward to, and we felt like it was just fitting for a first album title. And that’s why it fit so well for this EP, because we were literally inside of those same dreams that we had at the beginning – people singing our songs and coming to shows and things that we only had dreamed of really.

TCC: How would you compare your upcoming music to your past work?

NS: I’d say that we took what we did on the first record, especially with songs like Cool Kids and then kind of progressed it. And I think the EP also shows that pretty well. I think we’re just taking everything we did there even further. And there is, of course, going to be a lot of the songs on the EP on the actual record – not all of them. But I’d just say it’s more modern, more advanced. We get deeper and deeper lyrically, I’d say, because that’s really important to us. The messages that we tell our fans are really near and dear to our hearts. That makes us really excited about what we put out.

TCC: In the fall you had talked about how there were no [vocal] collaborations for "Inside a Dream" or the full album. Why not, was that intentional for any reason?

SS: Not necessarily. I mean we did a lot of collaborations behind the scenes with a lot of really cool people. Like we wrote with Ryan Tedder (OneRepublic frontman) and a guy named Jason Reeves (singer-songwriter) and Jon Foreman from Switchfoot, and Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance frontman), and so many other random, really cool people and I feel like that was really great for us as a band, to collaborate with other artists that we’ve always looked up to growing up, and right now, to have their influence lyrically and message-wise on songs.

It was really cool to write with a bunch of different people. But there just wasn’t necessarily a song that we felt like we had the perfect person for or whatever, because I think when you do features, you need to do it very intentionally. There’s so many artists we love and I’m sure we’ll do plenty of features in the future, but there weren’t any songs specifically that we felt like would need or we wanted to have someone on it, yet – but you never know, we could have alternative versions of songs that are on the album and have someone really cool on it. So, we’ll see. We’re definitely, definitely not opposed to it. It just hasn’t been the right opportunity to yet.

"That really cute baby is a good payoff for him not being here, a good trade-off."

TCC: How’s your first tour as a trio going [since older brother Jamie left in 2016 to be with his family]?

SS: It’s going well. We have a lot of fun – and we also got to hang out, while we were writing this album and recording it, a lot with Jamie at home, and his new baby. So, I feel like because we’ve gotten so much quality time at home, it doesn’t make it so bad that we’re not together right now. Obviously, I still miss him and wish he was on stage with us, but then I think back to all the fun breakfasts that we’ve had at home, and I’m just in love with my nephew, so it definitely is worth it – that really cute baby is a good payoff for him not being here, a good trade-off. But, yeah, I think it’s going really well. All three of us are getting along, mostly.

TCC: At what point did you feel fully comfortable as a trio?

SS: I feel like towards the end of writing songs for this album is when we really felt confident in who we were as a band, and as a trio – and just as people – just the three of us, because Jamie was a huge part of writing and music for this band, so we had a lot of experimenting that we had to do and a lot of trial and error that helped us figure out who we are right now. I think it was just a process, it slowly started to feel more comfortable and more comfortable. It definitely wasn’t an overnight thing or where one song happened and we’re like “ok, now we feel totally great,” you know. Because one day we could feel super confident as a trio and another day we could write a song and it’s just not working the same, and that’s just creative processes in general. I think it’s been a long process but I think it’s gotten better and better over time.

Echosmith's Sydney and Noah Sierota perform on stage at First Ave in Minnesota

TCC: How do you resolve disputes – whether just as siblings or as artists?

NS: I think talking it out is good, and also giving it time. Time and space is always good, especially with creative differences. When we feel like there’s a lot of friction because of an idea maybe I want and Sydney doesn’t or Graham doesn’t, I think taking time away from that conversation is helpful so you can kind of gather your thoughts, try to think of where [someone else is] coming from, where I’m coming from, and then articulate it in a good enough way to actually communicate it in a way that we all can understand.

TCC: What’s it like to write about love and intimate subjects with family?

SS: Luckily, we’re not the type of artists or bands to write about things that are inappropriate. And we are very modest people. I feel like, so luckily that’s not coming up – because there are some songs I’ll hear on the radio and I’m like, “how can anyone even be in the same room as someone else talking about these kinds of things,” and I can’t even imagine doing that with a stranger or family member. So, luckily, we don’t write songs like that, for many reasons, but that’s definitely one of them.

We kind of just know so much about each other anyway that it almost is helpful in certain ways, because we’ll be writing a song and it might relate more to my love life, for example, and sometimes Noah or Graham will be like, “remember that time that your boyfriend got mad at you for this?” and you know, I’ll be kind of mad that they brought that up, but it also will bring better material and something that’s a little heavier to the song, and it’s actually kind of helpful to have people who really know you and know your story pretty well, to remind you of things even that you don’t really want to remember, but it’s good for a song.

TCC: Is one of you the leader when it comes to writing songs, or where do you get your ideas from?

SS: It kind of depends really. I mean, there’s certain days where Noah will feel more inspired, or either of [herself and Graham] will. So, it kind of just depends on the day and everyone’s mood, because again it’s creative, so you can’t really control that. I can’t decide “Ok, I’m leading everything today,” but if I happen to be the most inspired, then it might just naturally happen.

TCC: I have to ask because I love it and it’s been in my head all week, whose idea was the song Get Into My Car?

SS: [laughing] I love that! Thank you.

NS: I like that! I don’t remember. I mean we all, I remember the session – I think we were all very active in the session. We were throwing out a bunch of ideas and that was a really fun one to write. That was a really fun one to record –

SS: With Leah Haywood  (singer-songwriter).

NS: Oh yeah, that was fun.

SS: She was really cool and she brought some great ideas, too, so it was like a fun collaboration. I can’ t remember who came up with it, but maybe, I remember she came in with something that was just like, maybe it was just that line, and I was like, “yes, let’s keep going.” And we wrote the rest of the song together and it felt really easy and fun, but it does have some depth in it too, which is always nice for a love song.

TCC: That music video was very literal – which is my preferred style. What’s your approach to music videos?

NS: It depends. I think we try to change that every time. We love visual arts and how they can complement the music that we create, so every video, we want to try to be as creative as possible but also just try to tell a story in a new way. I think that’s the most important thing if you can try to tell the story of a song, even if it’s more vivid or abstract, like either way, if you can try to communicate how the song feels is pretty important to us. We always mean to do that as best we can.

TCC: How does shooting a video feel compared to performing on stage?

SS: So different.

NS: Stage is a lot more fun. Videos are fun, and it’s fun to like act and do all that kind of stuff…

SS: But videos are way longer than a show. Like 12, 14, 16 hours, you never know you could be there – especially, being a girl, you’re in hair and makeup for a long time, you’re in there all day doing the same thing over and over. In a show, that song only lasts for 3-4 minutes and then you’re on to the next song and to the next one, so it definitely is different, but I enjoy both personally. I mean l like live shows probably a little more, just because there’s an actual human connection you get to make. You get to hear people sing with you, and all those other great things. But videos are really cool, too, because it’s a different kind of creative outlet.

TCC: Do you have any tour traditions you brought back?

NS: Not really. We don’t really have any… do we?... we get a lot of snacks…

SS: We get a lot of snacks. And we definitely try to find a really good place to eat in every city, and that’s kind of a ritual for us, because we are so busy that we don’t really have that much time to see the sights and explore, be a tourist, but we do try to make time for at least one really good meal in every city that we’re in. So that’s definitely one thing that’s kind of like a ritual.

But literally before the show, we try our best to be better about the rituals we tried to do last time, like vocal warm-ups and stretching and warming up your body, and just feeling good before a show – which are things that we tried to do last time but you kind of forget. So now that we’ve had some time at home, we realize the importance of all those things, so we’re definitely trying to do that more on this tour. And we also always pray before a show, because we wanna pray that nothing goes wrong and that we can do our best to just share some love on the stage.

Sydney and Noah Sierota sing together on stage at First Ave in Minneapolis, MN

TCC: How do you celebrate a good show or hit song?

SS: Food. Even these donuts over here, I’m like, “what are we celebrating?” Someone brought donuts and I feel like we’re celebrating something because we always use food to celebrate. So usually we’ll go get a good meal or just something fun. Like after our first show of this tour, I went and got pancakes, and it was the best post-show celebration ever, basically.

"We’ve gotten to see so many other people of all types, and of all races, and of all languages sing this song back to us, and that’s been the most comforting to me."

TCC: How did the success of Cool Kids affect your high school lives?

SS: We ended up being homeschooled once we got signed, but we still had so many of the same emotions that we did have while we were in high school, or for Graham, middle school. But I mean, Cool Kids has really just changed our lives in general. But it’s mostly changed my life, personally, because I’ve gotten to see that such a personal story that we’ve experienced, that we wrote about, is the same story that so many other people go through, all across the world. Literally through all our tours that we’ve done in the past 4-5 years, we’ve gotten to see so many other people of all types, and of all races, and of all languages sing this song back to us, and that’s been the most comforting to me, because I’ve gotten to realize, “OK, I’m not the only one who goes through this, and we can all kind of go through it together,” which is really nice, and that really helped me just become more confident in myself, realizing that it’s not the end of the world and everybody goes through similar things.

TCC: Was there one particular moment you felt like you made it to the next level?

SS: I would say being asked to be on [The Tonight Show Starring] Jimmy Fallon – twice – was a pretty huge moment for us because that was the one talk show that we actually purposefully would watch when we were done with a show or just hanging out on an off day, so that was a pretty big deal, I feel like. And him even talking about us before we went on stage, he was just like joking about the way I say “cool” and how he liked how I said it, and I was just kind of freaking out because this is Jimmy Fallon talking about the way I say something – that is so cool. I feel like that was a pretty defining moment.

TCC: What about you guys, Graham and Noah, any different moment you want to mention?

*Graham contentedly agreed with much of what his brother and sister had to say*

NS: I’d say I agree. That was such a big deal for us. We love Jimmy Fallon, and that night was so fun. It was a really good day.

TCC: Are there certain bands you get compared to a lot – and are they ones you think you’re actually influenced by?

SS: It depends. It’s kind of changed over the years. There are certain bands that people will say – like we’ve gotten, just in general, some '80s references that – we grew up listening to a bunch of random '80s music too, so that’s pretty accurate. Sometimes we’ll get compared to just any other band that has a girl singing, just because we’re a band with a girl singing, but I mean there’s plenty of bands that have girls in it that I love, that I’m sure I was influenced by at some point or another. I feel like '80s music is the most accurate comparison that we get, that we actually were directly influenced by.

TCC: Some artists tend to conform to current trends in music. Have you felt any pressure to do things a certain way?

SS: We definitely feel pressure…

NS: It’s hard not to in this modern music industry, where it’s so single-focused and everyone’s pumping out songs constantly, but we try our best to create music that we love and that accurately represents our artistic vision, but still be able to be in the mainstream music world. Because that’s really important to us, too. We love pop music, we love music that a lot of other people our age tend to like, and I think if we can try to make our voice heard in a unique way in that kind of setting, that’s kind of what we aim for.

TCC: You do a lot of acoustic work – why are you drawn to that kind of music?

SS: We kind of started, in certain ways, acoustically. Our first show was full band, but we did so much street performing, and most of the time that had to be acoustic because we would try doing it full band and we were told we were way too loud, so we actually played acoustically for years and years and wrote so many songs starting on acoustic – whether it stayed that way or turned into a full band song, it usually started on acoustic guitar. So, it’s kind of been at the core of who Echosmith is and who we’ve been from the beginning, so I think it’s just something that we naturally gravitate towards and it feels right when we do it. And it’s nice to have those elements because I think acoustic guitar is not played enough, right now, especially, and it’s just kind of what we’ve always done, so it’s nice to keep that going regardless of what’s trendy right now.

TCC: Sydney, you’re also known for your fashion sense – what inspires your style?

*Sydney launched her own collection with Hollister in 2016*

SS: I honestly am inspired by anyone and everyone, and I think that’s what gives me such a random sense of fashion or style. Because I could be just walking to Starbucks and I’ll see a girl who has the cutest sparkly shoes or whatever, and then I will go and try to find those either online or at some random store, or I could see a fan in the crowd who’s wearing a really cute dress and then I’ll look for that same sort of thing. So, I kind of have a hodgepodge of style because it’s like “oh, I love these pants because I saw this model wearing them," but also these shoes are from that random person on the street, and this shirt is whoever. So, it’s kind of been influenced by everyone and I think that’s a really good note to take for anybody who wants to just experiment with fashion, because there’s something to learn from every person and everyone really expresses themselves with what they wear, and it’s really interesting to pay attention to that, and you can take a lot of notes from a lot of other people.

TCC: What’s everyone’s favorite social media platform?

NS: I like Instagram a lot. I mean Twitter, I’ve enjoyed Twitter more – I think it’s really great for back and forth conversations with fans, so I appreciate that aspect of it.

SS: Instagram story has made me like Instagram more because it feels less selective with what you’re posting and you kind of just have fun with it. But Twitter is a really great one for interacting, I think. What about you Graham?

Graham Sierota: I like both.

TCC: What do you guys hope for the future of the band?

SS: Our main goal is just to continue doing this. Our dream has been to not have to have a real job, basically, and to be able to do music forever. Wherever that takes us, to whatever extent that may be, that’s great – and of course, we have big dreams to play arenas and do this in a really big way, but either way, as long as we’re doing music, that’s what’s gonna make us really happy 20 years from now, or even 30 or 40, who knows? And our goal is to also have a real life, have our own families one day, and to get married and do these things that normal people do but also to get to continue doing music – and I think there’s a lot of great examples of people who do it for so long but they still have normal lives, too, doesn’t mean you can’t have both. So, I think that’s our main goal, is to be able to just do our dream but also do our normal dreams as well.

Graham, Sydney and Noah Sierota (left to right) before a recent show in Minnesota

TCC: What’s your craziest or most favorite fan encounter?

SS: I had a really good encounter with this mom, actually. We got to sing at Taylor Swift’s concert twice and one of the times, I was done singing and I was just watching rest of show and this mom came up to me and shared her story about how her daughter was supposed to be there, but she ended up dying, and it was so sad and so touching to hear this mom talk about how much she loved her daughter and how our song “Bright” has really helped her through that and it reminds her of her daughter every time she hears it. And it’s just the sweetest thing to even just reminisce on because it reminds me of why we’re doing this – because we want to help people. That’s kind of one of the main reasons why we do this – to help people through whatever they’re going through, good or bad. So that’s definitely what I remind myself of when I’m really tired or I lose sight of the big picture. That definitely was a very memorable moment that I’ll never forget, considering it was so touching. I still get Tweets from her very often, so it was a really, really sweet moment.

TCC: What about you, Graham and Noah?

NS: I love that story, even now just remembering it, hearing about it, it’s a good reminder of why we’re doing what we’re doing, why we travel for weeks at a time and play these shows. It can be kind of grueling and exhausting, but stories like that are good reminders of why we’re doing it.

To hear Echosmith's latest available music and check out their tour schedule, go to their website

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