Intimacy Amid a ‘Lonely Generation’: An Interview with Echosmith’s Noah Sierota

Echosmith is the pop-trio made of a sister and her two brothers: Sydney, Noah, and Graham Sierota. They’re in the middle of the tour in support of Lonely Generation, their newest album that came out this January.

The California band burst into the music scene when their song “Cool Kids” came out in 2013. It was hard not to hear that song, an anthem for wanting to fit in but doing so through being yourself.

After six years, the band finally returned with their sophomore album. But the album comes after several changes for the band. Sydney, Noah, and Graham Sierota have grown in between this album. As Noah points out in the interview, they were teenagers when the first album came out.

The sibling bandmates show their maturity and range in this new album, Lonely Generation, also the first release on their label they started.

Antonio Villaseñor-Baca: Right now you’re in between Cleveland and Toronto. The tour started on the 12th, how’s it going? How’s it been playing the album for the first time on tour?

Lonely Generation album artwork.

Noah Sierota: The album has been so fun just to play through these songs, for these fans. It makes you wonder what songs are people going to know or are they not going to know any of them and it’s been really cool to see so many people at these shows know all the lyrics. And it’s also really fun to see the unexpected type like the dudes in the back singing every single word to our most romantic song, they’re like six-foot-four and super ripped and stuff like that is so fun for us. It reminds us that music is universal and we try to write about our experiences as human beings. We all go through similar stuff and that is shown even more through our live shows, is how excited people get when these songs are played.

Antonio: This album, which comes about six years after your debut album, has been described as a coming-of-age story. And you’ve been through a lot as a band, Jamie left the band, you started your own label, Sydney and you each got married; how does it feel to have this album out after all of those changes?

Noah: I mean it is wild, obviously life continues on, you make a record and life continues and you grow and you become an adult and then you start getting into serious relationships and you go through challenges and in the meanwhile, you’re still making music. It’s been really cool to see the little glimpses of our experiences shown through the songs and that’s kind of strange in a lot of ways because they’re your own experiences there. It’s not a public deal, but when you start writing songs about it and people start hearing it, it’s suddenly everyone’s to share. Your experiences aren’t your own anymore which is strange peculiar but also really special and a really good reminder that music can affect people, how it can lift them up by people simply knowing that they’re not alone. And that is our main drive with making music that we do. So when we’re going through all these different life changes, good and bad, to be honest with it and to be real about it. You go through the highs and lows, through the songs is helping people see that they’re not the only ones going through times of difficulty but also times of joy. It’s cool to know that we’re all together.

Antonio: Can you give any specific examples of how these changes or the impact that these changes in your lives have made on the music and lyrics and the process of like making the music itself?

Noah: Yeah, it’s a great question. I mean I would say that when the first record came out we were all teenagers. We weren’t really adults and now we are. We’re in our 20’s, early 20’s still so young but we are full-on adults. Because of that, we’ve gone through more stuff more in life, more pain and also more joy. It’s just something that’s real. Songs like “Everyone Cries” captures the difficulty of trying to maneuver our way through pain in life. And then the song “Follow You” is a good example of just being stoked, like love is awesome. Those are just good examples of how there are high highs and low lows and walking through those together as family and also as a band through our music to share with the fans.

Antonio: So in this album, I did see this back and forth between songs that are very personal, even the videos get personal with like “Follow You” where Sydney wears her wedding dress and that being the song she wrote for her husband, but then there are these tracks like the lead “Lonely Generation” that talks to more people or about more people. Can you talk to me a little bit about the back and forth or the balance between those two?

Noah: Yeah. I think it’s important to have songs that aren’t just dealing with the small form issues that we go through, things that are just my own. Songs like “Lonely Generation” that are trying to capture a cultural moment that we’re a part of. So it’s not disconnected from ourselves. We’re writing about something else or someone else going through, that we don’t connect to. It’s an issue or problem that we see within our generation. And I think finding that dynamic is important because you don’t want to have songs that are super preachy and annoying, ‘like do this’ or ‘you’re this.’ I just don’t like that but a song that captures social issues well but also proves yourself in that narrative to me is important because it doesn’t disconnect you from the reality of what it actually means to be a part of the lonely generation. It’s cool to have an album that has songs that are on both ends of the spectrum, things that are super personal things and songs that deal more with somewhat grander issues in life. And I think fans connected to both sides.

Antonio: And for songs that aim at larger topics like “Lonely Generation,” was there a specific example or instance that for you it made you want to write about this topic?

Noah: We’ve had a million conversations just us as a band, trying to figure out what it means to live within this social media generation where everything is so accessible to us yet loneliness is now kind of a social disease. It’s something that most people are dealing with to a degree that hasn’t really ever existed before. So, we’re part of that, we’re of the age where we’re handed social media when we were in our early teens like middle school. That’s strange, it’s going to produce some wacky stuff because we’re the first ones to have been given. Because of that, we’re still trying to figure it out. We’ve had many conversations about that with each other asking like, ‘how are you doing with your self-esteem?’ ‘Are you judging your appearance on what you think of yourself by social media numbers or by the number of people who love you in your life?’ That’s something we actually deal with as people and we’ve also had a lot of friends that deal with that in a lot of different ways. So for us, it came out of a bunch of conversations we’ve had in the past. I myself like to randomly write down song ideas on my phone. I wrote down “Lonely Generation” because I thought it was a good phrase to name the current generation. It’s kind of depressing but it’s true. We’re a very lonely generation. And there’s hope and there’s peace to be found through this but we got a lot of stuff to figure out.

Antonio: And then made videos for every track of the album; is there a specific reason for that is there a favorite you had making? 

Noah: We’re so stoked on having all these videos out and we took a lot of time. It was like a little over a week of shooting every single day sometimes doing full videos in a day. It was a tight schedule but we made it work and it was pretty incredible honestly. I don’t know how we did it but we survived and we have a lot of videos to show from it. When it comes to my favorite, I really like the “Diamonds” video. We did just a ton of fun filming that one and the video itself is great. That day we were dressed in cowboy outfits and being dumb and making jokes the entire time and doing whatever we wanted which is free and fun. I also think “Lost Somebody” was a really fun video. That one was like an 80’s workout style video. That idea we actually came up with while writing the song. We were making the song and thought this is a good one to do a little running in place and jumping jacks. It was fun to a joke turn into a real music video.

Antonio: It’s funny that you mention it being like, a workout type of video like in the 80’s. 80’s music is also influence in your music. Do you think this album kind of follows that? Has it become more or less so? Going forward will the new wave, Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, type of music will be prevalent in your music?

Noah: I mean I think a lot of the music that we make will always have some kind of tenet of that, of those bands are bands that we loved for a really long time. But of course, we’re also a band that wants to innovate and I think you can listen to the first record and the EP that came out in 2017 and then our new record and there’s some pretty drastic changes. I think that’s important. And I don’t want to just be making 2013 synth-pop forever. And that’s not what we’re doing now. Our new record there’s a little bit of that 80’s kind of thing in it but we’re also drawing on folk influences, even like different kinds of electronic music in certain songs. It doesn’t really feel like it’s set to an era. You listen to a song like “I Don’t Wanna Lose My Love” and we did some kind of like strange production stuff in that one. It’s really fun to hear it and I’m there’s maybe a tinge of like 70’s in there, but the root of it is the piano ballad and we just built up weird stuff on top of that. It’s fun to challenge us to keep innovating, And I think that we’re doing that. You know, the great thing about the Smiths isn’t that they sounded so like the 80’s but rather that they were doing something unique and innovative in their time and that’s what we want to continue to do and continue that tradition.

Antonio: Yeah, I’ve definitely seen a scale like climbing from that first album to the EP to now with this album. So I read somewhere that that, Sydney, at an MTV Music Awards show had Katy Perry singing the “Cool Kids” lyrics to her. Have you yourself or the band had any other celebrity moments like this or is [the fame] wearing off now since you’re a part of it now?

Noah: No, it’s fun when people know our music. Especially like a Katy Perry type. Like when Taylor swift asked us to guest in her 1989 tour and asked us to come up and we came out of the Eagle’s stadium [Lincoln Financial Field] and there was a massive amount of people and everyone was singing “Cool Kids.” I mean those experiences are unlike anything else. Still, it’s really cool to get messages from other artists like, ‘hey, I really like your music or the lyrics to your songs.’ It’s cool. I think the music community does a really good job of lifting one another up. We’re all just trying to make art and trying to have fun with it but also trying to make something that matters. And that’s special and I think when we as artists connect on that, share together, it’s a special experience.

Antonio: And I know the three of you grew up in the in a household with music, your dad being a producer working with artists like Seal and Zedd. Last year you put out a collaborative song with Audien. So I’m wondering what was that process like and do you have any other songs like that planned or working with electronic producers like Audien?

Noah: We love getting to collab with anyone. It’s really fun to mix artistry. We’re all diffrent types of artists and we make music in our own way and we have our own creative process and then mixing that with someone else is always a really fun time and we love what we did with Audien. That song we originally debated on if should we keep this one on the record. Eventually, we thought it would be a much better fit for someone like that and Audien was awesome for that. He’s such a great producer and he’s a super talented. And that we got to work with him was super duper cool. Beyond that we’re open to anything, There’s some other things currently in the works that we have going on. Nothing announced yet but some stuff we’re talking about. I want to find more work, kind of unique mixes to do especially with EDM style artists because it’s really fun to see how they even like remix our songs and make it into something totally unique and way more like pumping and wild and built for that club setting. It’s cool to see other people reimagine our stuff and as well as starting from scratch with someone else.

Echosmith tour dates.

Antonio: So, that’s it for my questions. Do you have any other comments on the tour, this album, life in general?

Noah: Yeah, no, we’re just thankful. We appreciate our fans for listening to our new music and being stoked on it. We’re just on the road and going to keep being on the road having a good time. 

By Antonio Villaseñor-Baca

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