"In the age of artists like Kayne West, Lady Gaga, Die Antwoord and FKA Twigs, it's clear that fans expect more than just good songs," observes Echo Black's Danny Blu. "And we're up for the challenge."
So says the frontman of the visually alluring New York pop-rock-industrial quartet, which formed in 2015 and made a first impression this summer with the rollout of its "Perfect" single featuring World Alive's Telle Smith on Alternative Press' website and the video appearing on Fuse. Echo Black's makeup and wardrobe play a major role in its visual presentation, which strongly embraces both glam and modern rock fashion. Face paint is a crucial enough component that "eyeliner" is used as a music descriptor on the act's social media pages. But it's not just a matter of dressing the part of flamboyant rockers -- its look also represents who Echo Black is as a band.
"We are all influenced by bands and artists who use fashion as another forum of expression," explains Blu. "In many instances, it is a vehicle to convey tone, mood and intensity. Formal or lax. Theatrical or off the cuff. Polished or rough."
Blu says that as fashion inspirations go, "for us, it's about amplifying our personalities through collaboration with artists and designers. We each have wildly different inspirations, from Joe Perry to J-rock to Marilyn Manson to Alexander McQueen to RuPaul to Sid Vicious to Johnny Cash."
In the band's video for "Chemicals," it may look like Blu took a page from West's fashion -- "We appreciate how he visually interprets his music," notes Blu -- since he dons a jewel-like mask similar to the crystal Maison Martin Margiela covering that West has worn on tour. But the singer says that's not the case. When it comes to the styling its videos, "we've always -- even before we were Echo Black -- wanted the look of our videos to have the same gravitas as the tracks and maybe even deepen [it]."
Echo Black wrote "Chemicals" with producers Matt Squire (One Direction, Ariana Grande) and Andros Rodriguez (Justin Timberlake, Whitney Houston), an endeavor that Blu calls "an incredible experience. They really helped us shape the sound of this track. I think we all got really excited as it started turning into the power ballad it became."
Billboard has the exclusive premiere of the "Chemicals" video today. Watch it below:
Instead of having the relationship that's depicted in "Chemicals" be portrayed by a heterosexual couple, Echo Black decided to have two women demonstrate the story's mournful dynamic in the video. The band went with that treatment because Blu says, "A good chunk of our process includes us saying, 'Yeah, but…' to each other. A lot. Think of all the incredible, groundbreaking videos that depict heterosexual relationships. Now tell us why same-sex relationships shouldn't be portrayed in the same context of 'rock tragedy' as often as their heterosexual counterparts? The fact that you're even asking this question makes it, in our opinion, all the more captivating. Also, my boyfriend really wanted to style two girls.
"When it came time to shoot the video, we wanted to do the song justice and tell a beautiful, captivating story," adds Blu. "It's about loss so deep that you're unable to process its reality."
Echo Black will be performing at New York's Webster Hall on Sept. 27 on a bill that also includes Wednesday 13 and One-Eyed Doll. For more information, go here.