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Echo Inada, aka Jonathan Devereux, is an up-and-coming drum & bass producer with releases on labels like Hospital, Propa Talent and Plush. With uplifting, often old-school beats and those damn-catchy vocals, Echo delivers the music to get you on a summer vibe, and this guy has big plans for the future, which will see him experiment with heavier styles like dubstep and even a bit of house.
Jon caught up with us all the way from Dubai, where he's currently living, to tell us all about his experiences in working with different labels, influences and a preview into the future of Echo Inada.
So for those of us who aren't familiar with Echo Inada, how would you describe your sound?
The music I've put out there and what's been noticed is pretty commercial sounding, like a cross between that Hospital sound and a bit of DJ Rap as well. And my stuff on Plush has a bit of a liquid vibe to it. But I do a lot of darker stuff on heavier labels like Section 8 too. It's a lot more technical and I love making it because it's difficult, but I also enjoy doing really melodic stuff with instruments, harmonies and notes. I just have this affinity for it – my hands just start moving towards happy notes and I'm like, 'No, stay away from the happy notes!' but I have fun with it. I guess my stuff's just got a bit of everything really.
And where did the name come from?
Ha ha, well it came from a computer game called Second Life. It was this name generator for your character, and it just came up with 'Echo Inada' for me, which I used online for a while, so it seemed pretty logical to use for my music too.
You recently released the Story Begins and Story Ends EPs on DJ Rap's Propa Talent label, how has that experience for you?
Yeah, I'm really happy with how they've turned out and the reception has been great. I've even had some people make fan videos to the tracks, which is really humbling and cool to see that people have taken the time out of their day to make something so creative with my music. I really love working with Propa Talent and DJ Rap because she puts so much into her work. I think she gets quite frustrated with me sometimes though because I'm not the most organised of people! But she's very patient with how I seem to work and just puts her all into everything she does. Like her own DJ Rap TV – she really connects with her fans. It's been great working with them.
Do you have any plans for future releases with them?
Well, I've got some pretty hush hush remixes coming up with DJ Rap, which is a bit more dubstep influenced. It's got a really cool edge to it; heavy but melodic, and not just distorted noise. I only released my first dubstep tune, The Story's Ending Now, from the Story Begins EP, in January this year. I was shying away from it for ages if I'm honest. I think for a while when it first came out it was sort of just a wobble bass with some drums, and I needed something more.
But now I really like Nero – their sort of vibe with that power behind it. Gemini is someone else who's been inspiring me to start developing into dubstep. There's a lot of flexibility with it as it can be a lot slower, so it gives you more room to work melodies and all sorts of stuff into the track.
We came across your Curtis Mayfield Move On Up remix on YouTube, which has had over 57,000 hits. Is this the sort of music that inspired you growing up?
Yeah, that's a really old track I did but never managed to finish before losing the project file. So that YouTube copy is the only surviving one! But yeah, I like a lot of old-school jazz and used to mix it with drum & bass before I got signed. I thought, 'this will be my niche – I'll be the guy who remixes jazz with drum & bass' but it never really caught on. I love that happy vibe to 1960s sort of jazz music, and people like Louis Armstrong. That's feel-good music for me.
How did you get into drum & bass?
I first got into it about ten years ago when back then it was all about Shy FX and Roni Size and have just loved it ever since. But now I'm pretty into Camo & Krooked – I'd like to see them. And I'm also really into Skrillex. I think what he's done with combining that really heavy, top-notch production with a melody is incredible. It's really difficult to get these twisted and crazy basslines to tune right with melodies, and Skrillex has managed to pull it off in a really cool way. It's got that sort of Wolfgang Gartner glitzy vibe to it, which I'm really into.
You released your breakthrough track Breathe through Hospital Records last year. Before that you were relatively unknown, so how did that change of pace happen?
Well, it was pretty weird. I originally made the track for a different label but it used a sample from a Hospital track. So I sent it to them to get the sample cleared and they basically said, 'We really like the track so we'll make you a deal. You can either pay to use the sample or we'll pay you a fat advance and sign it to Hospital'.
Which made it pretty easy – it was exciting for that to happen to me. They've got this 'drop box' thing on AIM where I'm sure thousands of tracks get sent every day, so I wonder whether if I'd put the track in there, would it have got lost in a sea of other demos? It kinda went through the back door and I was very lucky. It all kind of exploded from there and really raised my profile. I'm still in contact with them, they're really cool people.
You've got a forum on Reddit where you give advice to aspiring producers. It's nice to see you connecting with and helping your fans...
Yeah, I feel like I've got a natural affinity to teach people. I think a lot of the 'big names' have got their techniques and hidden tips and tricks but it's very difficult when you're starting out to find the right stuff to do, so I think it's important to help and teach people. I've got a few people who I think have the X Factor, or whatever you want to call it on my MSN, and I'll do sort of one-on-ones with them and help them get their mix up to scratch, which is cool. It's rewarding to see them progress over time. I didn't really have anyone to show me the ropes so it was difficult because there's a lot to learn.
Have you thought about collaborations in the future?
It would have to be with somebody I could learn from – someone really technical like Noisia or Skrillex. I'd love to be a fly on their wall and just stare down, have a listen and see what they do. But, to be honest, I'm not that much of a team player when it comes to collaborations because I prefer to do stuff my way. But I used to produce with a few close friends when we first started out and wouldn't rule out collaborations in the future.
What can we expect from Echo Inada in the next year?
Well, there will hopefully be another couple of EPs coming out. I've got a really good dubstep track lined up and a remix track too. I've only started hammering it since the start of this year really. Moving over to Dubai from the UK was a long journey. I hope to move to New Zealand in the next year or so and get more into DJing and maybe some collaborations because the drum & bass scene is pretty big over there. But yeah, watch this space for the new EPs. I like to give them a bit of variety and not just stick to drum & bass, so there will be a bit more of house and dubstep styles to them.
Words: Shelly Elcock