Having recently released their EP, No Hoods, No Dogs, No Food, No Drink, and with their second album on its way this year, 2016 is shaping up nicely for Haggerston-based Echo Pressure. Describing themselves as a UK Indie/Afrobeats/Disco band, they are known for relentlessly performing around the capital, hard-hitting lyrics regarding everyday life, and a sound they have been honing to make truly their own. We spoke to charismatic frontman, Zygmunt Day, about recording, the cultural influence of living in East London, and debauchery-filled music videos.
Hi Zygmunt, how are you doing today?
Still tired from the weekend (it’s Tuesday), and I’m working a late shift tonight. But otherwise, pretty good.
I've noticed with your latest release that you've gone for a more electronic sound - was that a conscious decision, or did it happen spontaneously?
Partly it was, because we had the opportunity to use different instruments than we’d had access to before. I had recently bought a Nord Lead 2x synth and gotten my hands on a few free VST plugins like the PG-8X synth. I was basically experimenting with arrangements and trying to get some electronic sounds that would compliment what we were doing already, mainly to expand the sound away from our first record, and to incorporate some of the newer music I’ve been listening to. I wrote most of our first record in late 2011, early 2012; and we’d been working on it for almost two years by the time it came out. In that time, we had also pretty much written the EP, so I had had quite a lot of time to experiment with other things.
There's a real plethora of sounds and vibes on the EP, it's certainly not your standard indie affair. Am I right in thinking you were listening to a lot of different music at the time of writing?
Definitely, I wrote a lot of this stuff when I was living in Bethnal Green, and started working on building sites and in workshops, as well as briefly working in a bar; and I was surrounded by music that I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen to put on myself. But it got me thinking a lot about how music interacts with an environment, and what purpose it has there. The way this reflected back into the songwriting is that I wanted to give each song a distinct sonic identity, so that each of them were suited to their 'purpose'; that is what I was trying to communicate with the song. I also thought a lot about the physical space that each song inhabited in my head; so There Was A Person is this kind of tense, almost claustrophobic arrangement, but something like Find A Way Back Over is a bit more widescreen and relfective. And Mr. Sol is just meant to bounce along like a party.
You shot a house party music video for lead track Mr Sol, your song about cancelling a holiday with a friend after confessing to hooking up with his ex girlfriend. Was that video as fun to shoot as it looks?
Yes, it was a lot of fun. A lot of people came, and they were all quite up for it, which was good. A couple of glasses of brandy and a few cigars didn’t hurt either. A lot of stuff happened that I couldn’t have planned. For example, I didn’t even know I had a slinky, but someone found one somewhere. I live in quite a strange house which has been lived in by various people for years without anyone really clearing their stuff out when they leave, so there are all kind of things here. There is a little shed out back - we’re playing drums just in front of it in the video - and I found a coal sack full of antlers in there. Nobody knows where it came from.
I have to ask, is the song a true story?
[laughs] No comment. Maybe, maybe.
You guys are based in East London, and I've noticed a lot of the lyrics seem to draw from that. Has location always been an important part of your writing process?
Yeah, definitely. I’m usually trying to write something very direct about what it means to live in a place. I think people are tied to a place in a lot of ways, and it really affects your experience: who you meet, the ways in which you can live, what forces beyond your control are influencing your life. I find personally that key moments in my life are very much tied to place, and I think elements from our surroundings can become symbolic very easily. I remember when I was a kid I got beaten up once in an alley, and then every time I walked past it since I felt this kind of sick fear in my stomach. Even now I can pretty much remember what kind of railings and walls there were in that alley, and what kind of ivy was growing on the wall. And those moments are your life, I suppose; the instances you remember, and where you were, and why you were there. So that seems like a good thing to write about. Also, we’ve got a studio set up in East London, and small venues to play in, so it feels like the location is pretty important to the set up of the band.
One of the more unique aspects of Echo Pressure is your use of spoken word. Do you ever perform at poetry nights in London, or is it just a treat for fans of the band?
No, to be honest. What I’m interested in is the relationship between the voice and the instruments, and how to use that to create a sense of drama and gravity. I’m basically interested in spoken word as an alternative to singing, and what works and what doesn’t about it as a way of doing vocals. For example, I think there are some things that are easier to communicate using spoken word, and some things that are better sung. I’m interested, almost, in stripping away the 'prettiness' certain sentiments might have if they’re sung. I’m interested in stripping away the artifice. It’s an ongoing experiment.
You're currently recording your second album, how's that coming along? Should we expect another mix up in sound?
It’s going really well. We’re self-producing, and we’re about 70% of the way there with it. Hopefully we should finish it in early 2016. I think it’s probably the best stuff we’ve ever done together, and it sounds much more focused than anything else we’ve done - more cohesive as a whole record. And it’s been much more of a collaborative process in arranging than our other records. I can’t wait to get it out into the world.