With the increasingly collaborative options offered up online it was only a matter of time before someone figured out a way to take advantage of pooling resources and initiative to come up with something greater than the sum of its parts on a local level. Post-Echo is a website, it’s a group of like-minded local South Carolina musicians, and it’s a glimpse into the future of collaborative creativity and promotions in the music business.
“Post-Echo arose out of a discussion about where music was going in the century ahead, and how artists could keep their heads above water in the post-digital music age,” says co-founder Justin Schmidt of Post-Echo band Forces of a Street. “Everyone talks about how record labels are outdated, and we agree, but it didn’t look to us like having a million struggling independent musicians was the way things should go either.” With Post-Echo’s other originator, Fr. Jones, also being one of those independent musicians, it was more than an academic argument.
“Being artists ourselves, we knew what it was like to put yourself out there on your own,” says Jones. “It’s rough, and it’s hard to provide people with context for what you’re doing – why they should listen to your music.”
Post-Echo, then, was founded on two main principles, according to Schmidt and Jones: First, a collaborative relationship between artists makes for better music, and second, the music and art of Post-Echo artists will strive to create a ‘full’ experience.
“We are very lucky to be working alongside these artists,” they both agree. “There are so many creative ideas and unique personalities among them, and we want to help them amplify and broadcast their artistic personae as best we can.” They are doing that through a mixture of album releases, video blogging, fully produced and live music videos, free downloads, and more, using whatever it seems will help get the word out about Post-Echo artists.
Bobby Markle and Caitlin Hucks are the most visible part of the operation outside of the bands themselves due to their presence in a string of videos interviewing and promoting the groups various new releases.
The first inkling of what would become Post-Echo was a compilation album released in 2011, Future Y’all, which included many local and regional artists, some of whom have become involved with the collaborative Post-Echo effort. “It road-tested a collaborative approach and built bridges for us with some excellent artists in the area,” Schmidt says.
The next big step for Post-Echo begins this week with the February 14th release of the new album from Forces of a Street, Pro Icarus, followed by electronic act Roomdance and their new album Sewn Inside on March 1st and the ambitiously titled These Are the Things I Love and I Want to Share Them With You from the band Pan on March 7th.
The interesting thing about Post-Echo is that there is no real rhyme or reason or underlying similarity between the artists involved, unlike more famous collectives such as Elephant 6. I’m reminded of a comment from longtime South Carolina artist Danielle Howle when I asked her once in an interview what she thought Columbia’s “sound” was—her response was that it was that there was no “sound,” in the sense of everyone sounding similar, and that that was the best thing about the area’s scene.
Pro Icarus is a perfect example of the diversity of the Post-Echo roster, as it is in itself a wildly diverse set of tunes. Justin Schmidt is a child of 90’s and 00’s rock, from Coldplay to Radiohead, but he’s also talented enough to mask those influences in a haze of Pink Floyd and Beatle-isms and nods to everything from Dinosaur Jr. to Devandra Banhart on songs such as the trippy “Black Light” or the first video single, “Scope.”
For their part, the artists who have gathered under the Post-Echo umbrella seem pretty happy to be out of the heavy downpours of the music industry uncertainties and content to make music their own way, for now.
“Every press label or record label has to start somewhere, so even though Post-Echo is at the beginning of a long journey, we are happy to be a part of it,” Says Ian Flegas of Pan. “We want to help them get more recognition and they want to do the same for us, it’s a win-win. They are almost honorary members of our band because they do so much work for us–they are always sending out emails, posting our stuff on their web page, filming and recording us, doing interviews–It’s a real fun experience.”
Local act Pan’s upcoming full length album was recorded at Archer Avenue with Kenny McWilliams, a process that Post-Echo helped with, he says.
“They helped us with finding the right studio—if we had recorded anywhere else our album would sound much different than it does,” Flegas says. “We used better equipment, amps, pedals, and really nice guitars, and the results have honestly exceeded our expectations—if you were going to compare the two, our new album would be a Ferrari and our first album would be a Camry.”
Pan is one of those sometimes dismissed ‘instrumental’ bands, but one listen to a song such as “Seeking the Sea King” and the intertwined melodic lines grab your ears just as much as any vocalist might. I’d venture to say that Pan is that rare breed of rock band which would sound less great with a singer, in fact.
For fellow Post-Echo band Pandercakes, the incentive to join up was increasing exposure for the singles they have already been releasing for free download on Soundcloud.
“We hope that our involvement with Post-Echo will allow our music to be heard across the country as Post-Echo continues to grow,” says Pandercakes’ Logan Goldstein. “It hasn’t changed how we release our music, but it gives us another outlet for promoting it.”
The latest Pandercakes single is out this week at www.soundcloud.com/pandercakes , joining such majestic kitchen-sink production indie-pop gems as “Andre Breton” in what is shaping up to be a most intriguing member of the local music scene.
The newest recruit to the Post-Echo group is Modern Man, a self-described “recording experiment” that has turned into a full live band with a densely layered modern rock sound indebted to My Bloody Valentine and others from that shoegazer era of guitar-centric britpop.
“Post-Echo came out to one of our shows and said they’d like to help us out,” says original modern man Allen Glenn. “ When we sat down with Post-Echo to discus a possible future, they were all about not changing any concept/image/whatever that we may have and only want to help us and them grow together. By them potentially lifting some burden off of our shoulders we are able to focus on writing, recording, and producing artwork and merch, and playing shows.”
So, what’s next for Post-Echo?
“After the hubbub of the triple release is behind us, we have plans for another exciting collaborative project,” Schmidt says. “In the meantime we also hope to produce another interactive ambient video collage where listeners can make their own soundscape using performances by Post-Echo artists.” if that’s not enough there’s also a comic book in the works with a soundtrack album to accompany it.
For more on the bands mentioned above and other Post-Echo artists and projects, visit the Post-Echo website.