Music / Premieres
Echo Mono - Retrograde
Words by Jessie Bellingham
Interview by Francis Tait
Thursday 12th April, 2018
We are super excited to premiere the new single from Echo Mono, which comes almost two years since their last EP. ‘Retrograde’ combines upbeat grooves with shiny vocals and glorious synths, to create a perfect, cruisey track that you’ll definitely have on repeat.
Previously known as Ghost in the Machine, the Melbourne five-piece are back under the name Echo Mono, with a brand new track ahead of their much awaited EP Aster. Their new track ‘Retrograde’ is packed with everything to love about Echo Mono, with dreamy vocals and their signature ethereal synths.
This single starts clean and crisp, stripped back to vocals, guitar and drums before steadily increasing in richness. Syncopated vocals add depth and complexity to the steady drum rhythm, and after the first chorus we settle into a track filled with upbeat synths, rolling guitar solos and silvery vocals.
A real highlight is the way the track dances between being stripped back and clean, before dipping into a more full-bodied, engulfing sound. Intermittent synths and a catchy riff round this track off so well, and if ‘Retrograde’ is anything to go by, the upcoming EP by Echo Mono is going be a good one.

To celebrate the new release, we had a chat with the band about 'Retrograde' and the forthcoming EP.
TJ: For those who are unfamiliar with your music, who are Echo Mono?

EM: We’re a Melbourne based electronic/alt pop band. The five of us have been playing together since late 2014, and each bring elements of our distinct style and taste into the mix. Working between genres allows us to incorporate digital synthesis and sampling with analogue tones drawn from pop, shoegaze, alt-rock and so on.

‘Retrograde’ is super polished and well executed. Tell us how it all came about.

With all the synths, sampling and effects we use, our writing process can get pretty convoluted as we have a lot of options to work with. ‘Retrograde’ started with the two main chord progressions and most of the synth parts were written fairly early on in Ableton Live. The lyrics were added soon after, skipping between meditating on distinct moments of imagery and a more retrospective outlook on a rocky period. They inform the majority of the melodic phrases, as most of the guitar riffs and synth leads imitate the vocal lines. We played around with the structure of the song as we played together as a band, trying to focus on the overall flow and change in energy between sections. The chorus and verse both have slightly unusual chord progressions; the chorus being a 12-bar progression and the verse being a series of alternating 2-bar phrases. Because of this we wanted to keep the overall structure fairly basic and poppy, with a few variations to help achieve the flow in energy we wanted. From there, we all tend to experiment with our individual tones and aspects of our performance. Post-production was a really important part of the process for this song, there are so many layers and we really wanted to make sure the synths were fitting well with the rest of the instruments.

‘Retrograde’ is the second single off your second EP Aster, which you’ll be launching on the 19th of April. What can we expect from the EP and how are the launch preparations going?

The writing, recording and mixing of Aster has taken us more than two years, so the songs have all developed a long way since we first wrote them. The EP is full of dreamy synths, sparkly guitars and infectious lyrics. It has come to reflect a very sentimental period of both personal and musical growth for the lot of us, which has resulted in moments of tenderness and intensity that can be heard throughout the EP. A few weeks ago we released a music video for our first single, ‘Satellites’, and we’re all really keen to finally put out the rest of the EP. In the lead up to the 19th we’ve been doing a few gigs around town and practicing heaps for our launch party at the Gasometer. We’ve got a pretty ambitious set planned, and we can’t wait to share it with everyone!

You also announced that you were changing your name to Echo Mono with the announcement of a new EP. What brought the change in name and does it accompany any other changes for the band?

We were at a point where we were nearly finished recording and producing the EP when we all agreed we needed to change our name. It took us a while to all agree, but after a while Echo Mono started to sound natural so we decided to go with it. The name feels like the right fit for who we are now, and we wanted to articulate just how far we’ve come both personally and musically since we started out as ‘Ghost in the Machine’.

Where are Echo Mono looking to head next?

Aster has been a long time in the making, but it hasn’t stopped us from working on new material at the same time. A lot of our new stuff draws influence from synth-pop and house music, and has a really dance-y vibe. We’re really interested in how house music uses addition, subtraction and manipulation of layers to create energy, and are starting to implement these ideas in our writing. While we haven’t given up on our alternative-rock influences, we feel like this style of creating energy allows us to be a lot more creative with our use of different sounds. We’ll be playing quite a few new tracks on the 19th, so  bring your dancing shoes!  

Check out 'Retrograde' above, and be sure to catch Echo Mono on the 19th of April at The Gasometer as they launch their upcoming EP Aster.