Having already been featured in the likes of Rolling Stone, Stray Echo is no stranger to having won over both critics and fans. His most recent track “Pavement” has seen his fan-base grow exponentially and such shows no sign of stopping any time soon. With ambitions that include playing Madison Square Garden together with being deeply grateful for all his supporters around the world, he kindly agreed to this interview to chat social media, song-writing and dream shows.
PW: Please introduce yourself.
Stray Echo: I'm Daniel, I'm a Libra, born in New York and I like Mexican food very much and Mexican beer for sure as well. I started Stray Echo in my home studio in Brooklyn and most of the time I track everything on my own which is crazy and fun but can definitely make you go insane!
PW: How would you sum yourself up in five words?
SE: Off the wall but logical .
PW: Which bands and artists did you grow up listening to and how did they influence you? Have such influences changed over the years?
SE: I definitely find new musical influences almost daily. Growing up my Dad played a lot of blues records by guys like Albert King, BB King, Freddy King, all the kings. As I got older I found myself going through each decade listening to the Kinks, the Band, Tears for Fears, Tupac Shakur up into some great bands and artists from this era like Tame Impala. With “Pavement”, I listened to a lot of African funk and punk like Joni Haastrup and the Funkees. The thing that has rung true my whole life is I always like a good melody, no matter what type of music it is.
PW: When did you first realise you wanted to be a performer? Was there an album you listened to or concert you attended that made you think 'yeah, I want to do that'?
SE: I really can't remember not wanting to be a musician. I was really young when I wanted to be a musician although I didn't actually learn how to play guitar until 8th grade, which was weird. I remember watching the Beatles Anthology tapes in two days. It was eight videos that were super long but I became really obsessive about and it gave me music tunnel vision ever since.
PW: Tell me about your latest track "Pavement." Is there a story behind it?
SE: “Pavement” was a really fun song to track. I really like how a lot of the music from Africa in the 70's touches on multiple talking points but the rhythms are always full of life. In most Western music, a sad song is slow, an angry song is aggressive, a happy song has happy chords and so on. In a lot of African music the artist will sing one line about finding freedom from the government and then the next line will say, 'Look at that pretty girl.' I love that. It keeps you guessing, it keeps you thinking and it shows the many different parts of life. A song about politics doesn't have to just be a political song, it can be a love song with the artist wanting to express his feelings towards government as well. If you read the lyrics in "Pavement", I try my best to incorporate that vibe.
PW: How easy/hard do you find the song-writing process and who/what most inspires you?
SE: It depends on the song. “Pavement” came very easily, but some songs take years to write. No matter how easy or hard a song is to write, it is always fun for me. I just love writing music so much and taking chances, doing things that may make a listener love it or hate it, but most importantly feel something. Many things inspire me, whether it's growing up in New York City or going to see a new band in my neighborhood. Often just listening to people speak in public places influences my writing. I definitely steal a few lines from some people talking in bars all the time.
PW: Which song, in your opinion, is the greatest ever written and why?
SE: That's a tough one as it changes so often. I hope you don't mind me listing a few and they may change next week. “It Makes No Difference” by the Band, because it is one of the most honest songs I've ever heard with a great vocal delivery by Rick Danko. Watch the Last Waltz live version for the best performance of it. “Don't Think Twice It's All Right” by Bob Dylan has beautiful chord changes and perfect lyrics. Blur’s “No Distance Left to Run.” The album '13' had a huge effect on me, I listened to that and 'Disintegration' by the Cure like every-day for an entire summer when I was younger. The song is just so earnest and you can really feel Damon Albarn's heart breaking for this lost relationship. My last addition would be “Life on Mars” by David Bowie as he is one of my biggest influences and I think it is his greatest tracks. Ask me next week for a complete change of mind!
PW: Is there an album in the works or are you happy to just keep releasing a song now and again?
SE: I am really happy releasing singles for now. I love albums but there is so much pressure with albums especially from media outlets. When a band releases an album, if it gets a few bad reviews it can kill them even if they spent two years recording it and all this money and all of their heart went into it. I really like how in the Motown era, they did singles and if one didn't get rave reviews, who cares! It was more about the fun and enjoyment of writing and recording that one song and making it as interesting as possible. I definitely will do an album in the future, at least I think so, but for now singles are the way to go.
PW: If you could play one venue anywhere in the world, which would it be and why?
SE: The Royal Albert Hall in London or MSG in New York. MSG because I grew up in New York and that is the mecca. Royal Albert Hall because it is so beautiful and in the center of a city that has brought so much amazing music to the world.
PW: If you could share a stage with three other bands or artists, who can be living or dead, who would they be and why?
SE: I was actually lucky enough to share the stage with one of my heroes Chuck Berry with my old band the Postelles. We opened for him and were told strictly not say his name on stage because it was bad luck in the 50's. I would have to say opening for the Beatles at Shea Stadium would be unbelievable, just so electric and the height of the biggest band of all time. My other pick would be sharing the stage with the Clash. I never got to see Joe Strummer as he passed away so young, but they just seem on fire on stage. I can't imagine the feeling in a venue when they performed, must have been amazing. The same would go for sharing the stage with the Ramones. I'm sure I'd have a smile on my face the entire time.
PW: You've been featured in Billboard and Rolling Stone. How much has such coverage you establish yourself and helped get your name out to music fans?
SE: That's a good question. It helps a bit but it depends on so many things nowadays. We've had articles released on huge platforms that we are super excited for and it gets released on a slow day or buried behind a big article about Kanye West tweeting about Taylor Swift's sex tape and no one care about our track. I think when a song gets a chain reaction to multiple blogs it has the biggest impact but that can often begin with a big write up from a juggernaut like Rolling Stone. Anytime someone writes about my music, whether it is Billboard or a kid in high school in Norway on his blog it is amazing. The fact that I write a song at 2am in my apartment half drunk and release it and some kid in Japan writes about it is incredible and I will never get tired of it.
PW: How has social media impacted your career and would you agree it's vital for bands and artists today?
SE: It definitely is vital. I've learned and screwed up and all that. Social media is a strange game. I really enjoy Instagram a lot. I think some of the platforms have become like a teenagers wall in high school, just plastered with so many random posters and quotes and blah blah blah that it is hard to navigate but the positive side of it is, you can reach your fans directly all over the world. If you can be comfortable to release content at a high volume you can build everything from your social accounts, it's pretty cool. It gives more power to the artist. Any kid around the world has a chance for his or her music to be heard in any country because of the internet.
PW: What does the rest of the year have in store for you?
SE: More music! I am already tracking about five more tracks right now, all of them really different from one another. I still have two more tracks coming out after “Pavement” so I'm really excited. I'm rehearsing a live show and will be releasing some videos as well.
PW: Finally then, what's your ultimate ambition as an artist? What advice would you give to anyone looking to follow you into the industry?
SE: Be different, be weird, go outside the box, take a chance! And don't ever, ever take it as a bad thing when someone says 'you're weird' or 'you suck' or 'you won't make it,' because it is always good to illicit a feeling or emotion out of someone with your art, good or bad. So just go for it. My ambition is to do just that and always create. The times that I have thought twice about music or writing were my worst moments, so I always want to stay true to myself and create more music. Whatever gets you through the night!