It's hard to believe that it's been almost a decade since Echosmith released "Cool Kids." The 2013 hit was huge on both alternative and top 40 radio, and the Spotify streams stand at nearly 450 million. The country-tinged "Bright" also proved popular with fans. Their debut album, Talking Dreams, showed a young band on the rise.

The quartet became a trio and they didn't release a proper follow up until 2020's Lonely Generation, which coincided with the Pandemic. A fantastic collaboration with Mat Kearney built momentum for new singles including their latest, "Hang Around."

Although they've been at it for a while, siblings Noah, Sydney, and Graham Sierota are still in their twenties and ready to move the band into a new era. Sydney and Noah joined Jordan Edwards and Demi Ramos to talk about their past success and the music they're making now. Watch the full interview below.

Echosmith | It's Real with Jordan and Demi www.youtube.com


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CULTURE

Travis Barker's Daughter Reveals Shaming of Instagram Girls

The Instagram aesthetic—that Kardashian-influenced, sharply contoured, and, most problematic, ageless version of artificial beauty—has crept its way into younger and younger demographics—but it's not the kids' fault.

Travis Barker has called out the "predatory" behavior of Echosmith's drummer for inappropriately messaging his tween daughter.

Alabama Barker, 13, recently made a point to share screenshots of the 20-year-old musician, Graham Sierota, sliding into her DMs on Instagram. In 2016, he began messaging the young girl repeatedly (his "Hi" went unanswered at least three times) and introducing himself with, "By the way I'm Graham from echosmith and I think ur beautiful." Alabama commented on the screenshots, "So once again I am bringing this to your attention because I'm a 13 year old girl and he is 21/20 super creepy."

To be clear, Sierota began messaging Alabama when she was only 10 years old and he was 17. After apparently keeping up with the child's Instagram account for three years, just last month Sierota invited her to a BBQ party he was hosting at his home. Alabama responded on July 21, "Ur like 40." To which Sierota responded, "I just wanted to say i really like ur music and sorry for messaging and I'm 20." As Alabama succinctly reminded him, "Ok but u understand I'm a child?"

The Blast

When The Blast reported on the highly inappropriate exchange, Travis Barker spoke out about condemning the behavior: "When I found out a 20 year old man was trying to get in touch with my 13 year old daughter by filling her Instagram messages with party invites and compliments I was disgusted," the Blink-182 rocker, 43, said. "That's predatory behavior and there is nothing cool, normal or ok about it at all."

Sierota has issued a brief apology and made his Instagram account private, claiming, "I had invited Alabama to my parents' big family BBQ along with many other people, and it wasn't until she responded that I realized her age at which point I apologized to her." He added, "I'm really sorry and feel very badly about this. I didn't realize she was a minor and assumed she was my age. I made a careless mistake and this is a big lesson for me. I would like to apologize again to Alabama, her dad Travis, and her family."

In return, Alabama extended forgiveness of the drummer and posted a plea to move on from the issue. She wrote, "He is very sorry about the situation and regretful. I forgive him and would like all of this to be over."

Travis Barker' Instagram and Graham Sierota


However, after exposing the exchange, Alabama received messages of warning that "Graham has a history of contacting underage girls," as one message read. How a signed and working musician could be unaware of Travis Barker's daughter's age, especially after following her Instagram for three years, isn't clear.

But sadly, Alabama's recent Instagram post has been flooded with comments either defending Sierota or condemning Alabama for appearing older than 13. "If my 12 year old daughter dressed like you and wore makeup like you, she wouldn't be allowed out of the house, let alone showing off on social media," one commenter noted. "Are you even old enough to be on Instagram? If so, make it private instead of putting it out there for older men to google."



To say nothing of the Instagram aesthetic that has indeed creeped its way into younger and younger demographics—that Kardashian-influenced, sharply contoured, and, most problematic, ageless version of artificial beauty—the toxicity of social media already threatens children in terms of their self-esteem, mental health, and communication skills. Let's not also blame them for the predatory behavior of "older men" who "google" them. This was a child who was made to feel uncomfortable by an older, male stranger who messaged her online, and the blame lies with that male's ignorance, with culture, and not with a 13-year-old girl.

Travis Barker and familyGiphy

MUSIC

Sydney Sierota of Echosmith Opens Up about Collabs and Sophomore Album

The indie pop band share stories about their latest collabs and messages of hope in their latest tracks.

Nate Hoffman

Indie-pop rock band Echosmith has had a busy couple of months of collaboration and creativity.

The trio collaborated with DJ and producer Audien for "Favorite Sound" and on the Timbaland remix of "God Only Knows" with two-time Grammy-winning duo For King & Country. The uplifting lyrics in both songs highlight a reassuring message that Echosmith ties into all of their music. The resulting tracks are sure to make fans excited for their new album. Popdust was able to catch up with lead singer, Sydney Sierota, to talk about the creative processes behind the tunesand what to expect next.

What was the creative process like when creating "Favorite Sound," and how did the band end up collaborating with Audien?

"Favorite Sound" was already written by us a long time ago, like at least a year ago. We originally wrote it for ourselves, but when you're writing a record, you end up writing way more than you need. With "Favorite Sound," in particular, we had a whole music track for it and everything, but we didn't feel like it was right yet, musically. Then we heard from our manager that Audien wanted to collab, and we got so excited because he had done great work with Lady Antebellum, so it was a cool crossover. We sent him over a bunch of songs, and he ended up liking "Favorite Sound" the most. We didn't end up meeting until the song was out and we were promoting it in New York! We just gave him all the files, and he just went at it. The first draft of the song didn't need much more work on it. I think there was only one tiny, nit-picky thing that we wanted to change. It was so perfect, and it was done within a couple of weeks!

I can't believe that everything went so well, and you all didn't even meet until promotion!

Overall, it was a fun collab, because it was so easy. We were just already on the same creative page, even though we had never met in person.

Was the creative process behind "God Only Knows" with For King & Country just as easy? Tell me about that journey.

For the For King & Country collab, that song already existed. I loved the message and the lyrics, especially because they just hit home for me, and I think it hits home for so many different people. I've truly been in love with their music for a long time. The funny thing is we didn't get to meet them either until we were shooting the song's music video! So again, this all happened over Facetime and text. Joel [Smalbone] from the band and his wife Mariah had known my dad, and they were hanging out and talking about music stuff, and they brought up this Timberland remix to my dad and said they were looking for a female to sing on it. My dad texted me and said, "Hey, would you maybe be interested in this?" All I could say was, "Oh my gosh, yes! I already love the song, and I'll sing on it tomorrow if they let me." We did all the vocals over two days over Facetime, and it was only a couple days after the idea was even brought up. It just all happened super fast! I don't think I've ever done a collab that was that fast.

These songs both have very powerful messages regarding mental health. What do you hope listeners take away or learn from each of the tracks or the music videos?

I think two different messages reside within these songs that kind of play off of each other. "Favorite Sound" was the most vulnerable I had ever been, in regards to songwriting and lyrics, which was scary. The song has only been out for a few months, but so many people relate to it. I think, at least for me, it's so crowded in your head, and sometimes it feels tough to control. It feels very overwhelming when negative thoughts just love to come in. I think it's very important for us to realize that we can be in control of those thoughts and turn them into something [else.] I want to help people realize that it's okay to deal with mental health issues, and it's okay to feel [bad.] With "God Only Knows," that message is also super powerful, and I think it's important that whoever listens to it and sees the video realizes that everybody goes through stuff. It's really important to have sympathy for other people, as well as yourself.

You mentioned earlier that "Favorite Sound" was one of the most vulnerable songs you've ever written. Which lyric from that song speaks to you the most?

I could probably pick out a lot of different ones, but the first one that came to my mind was, "And, I tend to be my own worst enemy." I think we should be our own cheerleader and support ourselves, but it's really hard to do that. That was a hard line to put out there in the world, because it's very vulnerable. That's not every day, but there are days [when] I do feel like my own worst enemy. I think that's my favorite line, because even saying it out loud makes it easier to deal with and turn my perspective upside down in whatever ways I can.

How did you all come up with the music video concepts for "Favorite Sound" and "God Only Knows," and what made you want to express the messages and stories of these songs in that way?

We were pretty lucky and were able to work with some pretty great directors for this. For "Favorite Sound," we worked with this director named Drew Kirsch, and he had a bunch of ideas for the visuals. There's a lot of elements in the video that can be translated in a lot of different ways, but we thought it would be fun to do a more [lighthearted] video to touch on the heavy themes of the song. It's like you have to clean your life out and clean your dirty laundry and deal with that, but also to let go and have fun and realize that "your dirty laundry" isn't forever. If you're dealing with something, it's important to let it go and enjoy life. We loved the idea of performing in a laundromat and having me walk through it, feeling everything, being down, and then showing the opposite of that.

Was the experience with "God Only Knows" different?

"God Only Knows" was a very collaborative effort. Joel was super involved with directing the video. We bounced ideas back and forth as to how we should portray the life of this artist before going on stage. [it's about] putting on your best face no matter what you're doing or what your job is, while trying to balance [negative] feelings. It was cool to have Joel yelling behind the camera and saying things like, "Yeah! Now throw things off the table! Really show us that you're angry!" I'd never done this with another artist before where they were that involved with the video. Joel and Luke were so helpful in helping portray the emotions I needed to portray. It was a fun process.

What kind of goals does Echosmith have in the near and far future? Do you have more collabs planned for this year? Is the album going to be the main focus? What's in the cards for you guys?

Our main, number one goal is to make sure this album that we're working on is as perfect as it can be and that we're as proud of it as we can be and to finish it as soon as possible. It's gonna be done very soon. We want to make sure that it's fully finished before getting into the creative side of things and visually get it to where it's supposed to be. We want to link the music to the visual art of it all. So that's our immediate goal. I definitely want to collaborate more with people in the future, but for now, we're really focusing on Echosmith's music and getting that out there. I'm so excited about all of it!

New Releases

Bre Kennedy Dances Into The Future On "Slippin"

The Nashville singer-songwriter finds comfort in possibility on her debut single.

Bre Kennedy

"I wanna keep collecting moments," Bre Kennedy confesses in "Slippin."

And maybe it's that small revelation of a line that best embodies the shimmering sincerity of her debut. Premiering on Popdust just in time for International Women's Day, Kennedy's new track exudes a natural frankness refreshing in modern pop.

"Slippin" is the first single off of Kennedy's upcoming EP, Jealous Of Birds, and already makes an engaging argument for Bre Kennedy's presence on your playlist. Kennedy's voice, switching effortlessly from soft verses to an anthemic chorus, smoothly blends the folk and country influences brought from her roots in the Nashville music scene. It's clear that Kennedy knows herself as a songwriter first: her lyrics weave in and out of the music effortlessly, unfolding the song naturally to the listener.

It's a rare thing to hear a pop song that embraces ambiguity as willingly as "Slippin" does. Kennedy reflects on past loves, the feeling of your own life leaving you behind, and the intimidating openness of the road ahead. But instead of giving in to doubts, she finds a foothold in uncertainty, genuine comfort in the possibilities of the future. She's not without her anxieties, but "Slippin" sees these as mere stepping stones in her journey. As a narrator, she's achingly relatable and as a new artist, she's more than ready for the spotlight.


Matthew Apadula is a writer and music critic from New York. His work has previously appeared on GIGsoup Music and in Drunk in a Midnight Choir.


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REVIEW | Echosmith ventures Inside a Dream in their new EP

The highly anticipated EP just dropped along with some visuals and I'm playing it on repeat.

www.youtube.com

Echosmith is bewitching and entrancing in Inside a Dream.

Echosmith has quickly gained momentum following their 2013 hit song "Cool Kids." Another album has be highly anticipated, but the band has dropped an EP instead, promising a full album next year instead. Hearing their EP Inside a Dream has made me wonder what they might be up to. For one, the EP is far longer than most EPs at seven songs and in the EP Echosmith celebrates their ability to create a cohesive album, proving that the art of the album is not dead quite yet. There has been speculation that singles will overtake the popularity of creating an album that tells a cohesive story, but in listening to Inside a Dream it's clear that it's not a lost art at all.

Inside a Dream is interesting because though it follows a stream-lined aesthetic each song stands alone. They've got seven solid bangers here and each song seems to have it's own life. "Lessons" draws you into the world of Inside a Dream with the whimsy and bewitching sounds complete with the lead vocalist Sydney's floating vocals. "Get Into My Car" is a wonderful song, but when you see it with the music video, you'll love it even more. The music video follows a young adult driving for a car service and all of the people she meets throughout the day and how it affects her at night when she's left alone. "18" is the quintessential coming of age song reimagined as a sort of retro pop meets modern dance track. The song touches on the in-between feeling of being at a cross roads between childhood and adulthood: eighteen, the first time you have to truly make decisions for yourself.

"Future Me" is a great transition from "18." The song is a love song to your future self. The traditional stance on this kind of song is an older person reflecting to their younger self, but Echosmith takes a unique position in saying, "Who I wanna be is who I am right now." The mature song accepts that pain is inevitable and vital for growth. The video in the simplest way bends time with different aged Sydney's walking in and out of present Sydney's life and Noah and Graham looking to their reflections. "Goodbye" was released as a single prior to the EP release. The song is probably one of my favorite #BoyBye anthems of the year telling a toxic lover when he finds himself to tell the real him "Goodbye." Ladies, I'm sure you can relate. "Hungry" is pleasantly minimalistic. The powerful hook, "Just don't let me go hungry," speaks for itself along with some other no doubt carefully chosen lyrics. The vibe of the song follows the general whimsical, mysterious aesthetic of the album the synths almost sounding like space itself.

"Dear World" is a quiet ending to an electric album. The song lightly touches on the hope for world piece. It reminds us to be gentle on one another because we're all essentially going through the same thing. They manifest in the song that they're "ready to be the change," which I think really speaks to our generation of social warriors, but also every generation who hopes to leave the world a better place for it's children.

Echosmith will be taking over Popdust's social media this Friday. Follow us on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter to see what Echosmith is up to and to get a glimpse into their lives.


Anie Delgado is a contributor to Popdust and is an actress and musician based in NYC. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @anie_delgado and on Facebook and check out her music on Spotify.


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MUSIC

RELEASE RADAR | Niall Horan is back with his new single "Too Much To Ask"

ALL THE PREMIERES | Formerly of One Direction, Niall Horan just released a new single, plus more releases on our radar

One Direction's Niall Horan wonders if it's "Too Much To Ask."

This week's Release Radar features everyone from Niall Horan who has made a name for himself through his former group One Direction and is venturing into his solo career to Echosmith who is continuing their momentum from "Cool Kid" to indie artists that are lesser known. If you are a music fanatic we're covering every genre each week. Here's this week's line up: Niall Horan, Echosmith, CASPR, Doldrums, Henry Nowhere, WAVVES, Dr. Medicine, Church Girls.

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