By Neil Kerr
Echo Arcadia came to the attention of Voice of Scotland in October when I caught them doing a wee acoustic set in Dunfermline’s Green Room where I was enchanted by their unique sound. So I snooped around for a wee while checking them out and finding more of their music to listen to and a little bit more about the bands roots. Then, suitably intrigued, I set about finding another gig to go to and upon finding the perfect gig, for me anyway, in the intimate surroundings of The Watering Hole once again in Dunfermline, I contacted the band to see if they fancied a post gig interview to which they immediately agreed.
I won’t go into the detail of the gig that day here, as we want to feature a full gig review in the new magazine next year, except to say that the band demonstrated their ability to impress with great ease and their passion for the music was very apparent during the performance. So I am giving myself the review excuse to go and see them again (not that an excuse is needed).
After the gig I found the band waiting for me in one of the many wee nooks the Watering Hole has to offer enjoying a bite to eat. In the nook and making me feel very welcome were; frontman and rhythm guitarist Leigh Moyes, vocalist and lead guitarist Vonny Moyes, keyboard player and vocalist Pete Nicholson, violinist Andrew Grey and bass guitarist Euan Mushet. The other band member, drummer Dan Ceiseilski unfortunately had to run and couldn’t join us for the interview.
The band met when Dan, Leigh and laterly Vonny who replied to a gumtree ad were part of a band called Brightside, and when some members of Brightside left they sought to continue the band under another name. Vonny brought in Andrew who she knew from school and various others have came and went through changing circumstances, Euan came as a previous musical acquaintance of Vonny and Pete was a later addition, as leigh said “it’s been a cumulative effect, we didn’t just spark into life like the big bang”. Today, having been together for four years, they are a very close knit band I saw that both during their performance and during the interview “we are like family” Vonny told Voice of Scotland “we’ve never had a bad word” and Leigh quipped “there’s been a few brotherly slaps in the face though” which demonstrates the banter that goes on amongst the band members, which I must say I enjoyed as a lover of comedy too, it was interesting to hear Euan confess “I am a reformed comedian, I used to do stand up”. I suspect he may have been rather good at it too.
The name Echo Arcadia Came from their old Keyboard players wife, an Art historian, who suggested Eccy Arcadia which means into paradise however the band didn’t fancy the Eccy part because of the Scottish slang use of the word to describe the drug ecstasy so they opted for Echo which is something they picked up from the studio effects called Space Echo which Leigh said they loved, and so Echo Arcadia was born.
As for their music, inspiration is gathered from a broad spectrum of influences as all the band members have varied, broad musical tastes fleetwood mac and “jangly stuff from the eighties” were mentioned as big influences and Pink floyd, Morrissey and radiohead amongst others were mentioned as favorite bands, proving the broad spectrum they mentioned to be spot on, which I must say came as no surprise having witnessed their unique sound.
Writing is “a cumulative process again” Leigh told me “95% of the time it’s me that writes the lyrics and I might have an idea for some basic chords to go with them, Vonny & I have written loads of stuff together and when Pete came on board he took an active roll in the songwriting”. Pete I was told has the uncanny ability to translate what Leigh has in his head into the skeleton of the finished product, a real valuable band member in my opinion. Violinist Andrew or “Mr Fiddles” as Vonny affectionately referred to him, said he too has a lot of freedom if he thinks something harmonises quite well with a song the he runs it by the guys and they are all ears, which is a real good thing and is a big part of what makes their sound so unique as its not just one persons work. Lyrics however are up for change during gigs mainly for amusement, I was told a story of Leigh asking Vonny to write down the lyrics of love song for him before they performed it, for him to refer to while singing, while he was away Euan encouraged Vonny to write the lyrics in a Japanese accent which she did, much to Leigh’s amusement as he announced to his audience “apparently this song is called ruv song” another sign of the closeness and fun the guys share.
The five confessed their favorite venue is the Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh because they have had some real good gigs there and won the Lloyds TSB Battle of the Bands there too, as well as playing there during Haddowfest with some other great bands. They also had their best ever moment on stage there which was battle of the bands. Vonny told me “playing that gig felt really good, it felt like something had clicked”. their worst moment on stage was a gig at Nobles Bar where everything went wrong, “it sucked dick” was the description I was given of that gig, “there was no making the most of it”.
The band thrive on feedback from their audiences, and their modesty shone through during our chat, they are clearly in it for the love of music and not strictly for monetary gain, ambitions include getting on a Jools Holland show and hearing an audience sing one of their songs back at them, the latter of which I think will happen soon.
The guys told me that since the release of their first EP Broken Chapters in 2010 they have spread out more, they occupy more space, “we’ve not just stuck in that middle sound” with Andy’s violin and all the effects that Euan brings being a big part of that. They have learned to let each other do their part to create the sound they want. Their confidence has grown in a big way since then allowing them to be more creative. The song which they say best defines the sound they want to achieve is “voices” although their new album which is to be released on the spectrum label in February 2014, I was told is the sound that we can expect from Echo arcadia in the future, I look forward to that album, it can only be good in my opinion.
All in all Echo Arcadia are a rather interesting band, quirky, funny, and very talented musicians. together they have the ability to go far and I think that they just might do that, and soon too. The label that they are with is big, a clear sign of their appeal and talent. The release of their album next year may well be a turning point for them enabling them to make the move from being part time musicians with day jobs to pay the bills, to becoming full time musicians,which would be fantastic as it would allow them to concentrate 100% on their music which would surely bring about great things.
We look forward to the release of their album ‘Beauty in an Average Life’ in February 2014 for which the band are having a launch gig at Sneaky petes in Edinburgh on the 8th of February. Meantime look out for them in a venue near you.
You can check them out on facebook here https://www.facebook.com/echoarcadia?fref=ts
And you will find some of their tunes here too https://soundcloud.com/echo_arcadia
Enjoy and we hope to see you at an Echo arcadia gig soon.