With a growing collaboration roster including Lady Antebellum, MAX, ARTY and Deb's Daughters, Grammy-nominated DJ and producer Nate Rathbun, widely known as Audien, can now add the multi-platinum alt-pop sibling trio Echosmith to his list.
Their latest release, "Favorite Sound," combines the mesmerizing vocals of lead singer Sydney Sierota and Rathbun's signature Audien sound to create a magical and uplifting anthem with a positive message that transcends time.
EDM.com had the opportunity to find out what exactly makes this wonderful collaboration so relatable and special to not just everyone, but to Rathbun and Sierota too. Read on to see what they told us.
EDM.com: With a track titled, "Favorite Sound," I just have to ask, what's your favorite sound?
Audien: Synth chords that are cut off. It's kind of producer speak, but just really warm synth fat chords. That's what I'm known for.
Sydney: Mine is when there's a three-part harmony because nothing sounds better than when there's a three-part. It has some sentimental value to it as well because I grew up doing that with my family and brothers. But it sounds so warm and it’s always the same. I'd listen to it all day.
So how'd you guys meet and work on this collaboration?
Sydney: It started out as a demo from us with vocals, drums, a little bit of keyboard and some of the basics like guitar and bass. It was cool because Nate got to use some of our real instruments and blend that with his sound and the electronic vibes.
Audien: ...And we met today for the first time. I'd say the internet is really collaborative. You could make the whole song without even meeting and talking. I mean, I was able to get her vocals and all the parts just through email. And I love how I was able to take it and do my thing with it on my own time. There was no pressure and it came together really fluidly.
When you get a demo like this, how do you know what to add?
Audien: I listen to the vocal tone and range. Then I sort of figure out what instruments are going to fit with that. 90% of the time it's usually going to be some of my core and key sounds that work with everything, but I try to sprinkle in some cool stuff that I haven’t used. In this case it was real guitars and stuff.
What's your favorite part of the track, or the part you had the most fun making?
Audien: My favorite's the very end. I absolutely love that part. It kind of breaks down and, instead of going into the typical traditional third drop that everyone always does, it kind of fades out. I think that speaks to the nature of the song and I hope people will listen to it again and again.
Sydney: My favorite part is the drop because it just has so many awesome melodies going on. There's so much that happens throughout the song that I find myself singing along to things I'm not supposed to be singing along to.
With making, I would say the harmonies were really fun. I was layering a bunch of vocals and sometimes you get too carried away, but this song was really fun.
How do you guys know when you're finally done with a song - like "This is it, this is what people are going to be listening to for eternity?"
Sydney: Honestly, it's kind of hard to decide when you're done with a song and when the lyrics or music is right. I feel like the music is so much more complicated than the lyrics. Sometimes you have to go too far and have a weird version in order to realize, "oh my gosh, the demo is actually the best" or "the demo vocal is the best one."
It's kind of interesting to go through the process, but I think it's important to do it in order to find out what's the best version. It's trial and error, but it's also just instinct.
Audien: Yeah, it's really easy to overproduce and overwork songs or ideas. It's usually the one that you started with that you go back to because that's when you had the best momentum with the song. I do that every time, pretty much.
I've had over 100 and at that point I'm just like, "my fingers can't even type anymore, alright it's done. I give up." But this song wasn't like that. This song there were only a couple of versions and they were both really good.
What's "Favorite Sound" about?
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Sydney: It's about how it's your choice in what you're going to listen to and what you're gonna believe and then learning how to sift through that. I don't think I've mastered it yet, but it's a really beautiful thing when you start to learn to do that. So it's super personal for me and I think it's very relatable to a lot of people.
What do you usually do to get out of those negative thoughts?
Sydney: I like to work out and it makes me feel better every time. And like going in a sauna and literally sweating it out and taking time to really just breathe. It's different for everybody, but for me, if I'm physically doing something, then I'm bound to feel better no matter what's going on.
Talking to people really helps too. For me, I think if you need to go to therapy, go to therapy. It's amazing. Or talk to your friends or someone you can trust. It really makes a difference.
Audien: I guess for me an escape would be redirecting and staying busy, staying away from the things that bother me. You know, going for a walk helps me a lot too. Gets my mind off stuff. I always fall into the trap that a lot of other people do, but I guess I'm pretty good at managing it. I've had my episodes from previous years and now I'm just kind of coasting, chilling.
What inspired you to write a relatable song with such an empowering message?
Sydney: Honestly, I don't remember the exact reason why we started writing this song, but it's something that I feel like I've dealt with for a really long time, ever since becoming my own person and growing into adulthood. All these thoughts just spin around and there's obviously some negative voices in there that are saying, "you're not good enough" or "you're not pretty enough." It's really hard to battle them sometimes.
I kind of relate to this song more so now than ever because I'm still going through that process of trying to filter out all of the negative thoughts and really try to listen to the good ones and believe those about myself. So it really came from a personal place that I really hope it can be empowering for other people who go through it.
It also really felt so vulnerable, which is hard to do honestly, especially when you're writing a song with people you've never met before. With this song I met the other two co-writers for the first time that day. It's kind of funny to think, "oh I talked to them about things that I hadn't even talked to my best friend about yet."
As an artist you're vulnerable to a lot when you put out music, what made you decide to just go for it?
Sydney: I wasn't afraid the whole time because I have a very supportive family that's all for music. Our dad is a musician, so we grew up with him always writing songs and producing for other people and playing music. It felt very natural and it didn't even feel as much as a leap of faith necessarily, even though there were times we had to take a leap of faith. It was more just a natural, "what else should I be doing" kind of feeling.
So honestly, it just felt so in me already at such a young age that it didn't feel too big of a deal to keep doing it because there was nothing else I could see myself doing regardless. So this is plan A and plan B, there was never another plan B for me.
Audien: If music decides to die on me, I'm just gonna play on the road and be a street DJ. I'm an only music kind of guy. I don’t have other skills. I just love music and I've immersed myself in it since I was young. I dropped out of college because I hated everything but music. I went right for it, took some risks and here I am. So I can't see myself doing anything else either.
Is there any advice you'd give aspiring artists who may need that motivation to take a leap of faith?
Audien: Definitely take a risk. If something's taking up most of your time, put it behind you and focus solely on music and see what happens. You don't know if you don't try. There’s definitely a risk and sort of sacrifice that has to be taken.
Sydney: And work hard because it will definitely pay off. Whether you end up with a #1 song or not, you're always gonna learn something from just putting all your best efforts in - and like Nate said, getting rid of the distractions and just going for it 100%. You can't really have a plan B because your plan B is gonna hold you back.
So you wanna be smart and survive as well, but it's very important to just be all in because even mentally that makes a big difference if you're telling yourself that you're 100% going for it.
So what's next for you guys?
Audien: We're both working on albums separately. I'm psyched to hear the new Echosmith album, but I'm also working on an album myself. We're just album peeps over here, in album mode, doing the album thing.
Sydney: And a tour always follows the album. So planning a tour and finishing an album. I think we're both on the same track. Pretty exciting.