The high-ceilinged bedroom of a top-floor tenement flat probably isn’t where you’d expect to find one of Edinburgh’s most promising bands practicing.
“We like to have one quiet practice here every week,” explains keyboard player Majied, sitting in the bay window of drummer Dan’s room, “and one loud one in a rehearsal room.”
“The neighbours don’t seem to mind,” says lead guitarist Siobhan, smiling.
Echo Arcadia were formed as the lights dimmed on Brightside, the band’s previous incarnation.
“A couple of people left,” says frontman Leigh, “and we were advised to change the name as there were other bands out there with the same one. We wanted to take things seriously, so needed a unique name.”
“My girlfriend’s an art historian,” says English-born Majied, “and we were looking at stuff and saw the phrase ‘Ecce Arcadia’ – and thought that was perfect.”
“Though we changed it to Echo when the Scottish guys in the band told me ‘Eccy’ was slang for Ecstacy…”
“It feels like an appropriate name,” says Siobhan. “Garry Boyle, who recorded our EP, introduced us to the Space Echo pedal – ‘Radiohead in a box’ he called it – and that seemed to be the missing part we were always looking for.”
Echo Arcadia’s music is a little bit darker and spacier than the upbeat poppiness of Brightside. Influences like Radiohead are there, but the band are keen to forge their own sound.
“I’m really influenced by minimalist composers,” says Majied, showing his classically-trained roots. “Building a whole song around something as simple as this -” he picks out a simple two-note refrain on the keys which then shifts around a chord change to create an effective and atmospheric mood.
“And I’m a fan of using poignant lyrics on something a bit poppy,” adds Leigh. “Though we do like to have at least one face-melting song per set!”
“Whereas I’m trying to find my sweet spot,” laughs Dan. “I’m a fan of complicated music!”
Echo Arcadia have very recently had to undergo a line-up change as a result of bassist Paul moving to the US to work with Microsoft’s gaming division (“Xbox stole our bassist,” laughs Leigh).
In some kind of transatlantic exchange programme, new member Marty from Wyoming has stepped up to the mark and is currently shadowing Paul before he leaves to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.
“Yeah, it’s going great,” says Marty. “And I’m also trained in double-bass, so I’m going to see about adding that into the acoustic stuff.”
“Yes, we’ve got an acoustic EP planned soon,” says Leigh, “and seven new tracks in the works.”
“We really want to push things as hard as we can now. We’re not indie enough to fit into that scene; and we’ve not broken into the mainstream yet either.”
“Our plan is to look at supporting bigger bands and getting our music out to as wide an audience as possible.”
“Ideally, we’d love to play the festival circuit,” he says.
Their music – with its soaring choruses and cloud-scraping melodies – would certainly be a good fit for a large-scale open-air audience. And with their hard-gigging ethic, they’re building up quite a fanbase.
“We’d really like to thank everyone who’s supported us so far,” says Leigh. “Everyone who’s come to our gigs, bought the EP and to Garry Boyle who’s helped define our sound – we wouldn’t record with anyone else now.”
“We do want to keep our integrity,” he says.
“Yeah, and as long as it’s fun and we’re enjoying ourselves, we’ll keep doing it,” adds Siobhan.
It’s no secret now that Leigh and Siobhan are Edinburgh’s first couple of indie-pop, after recently tying the knot – Echo Arcadia even put on a short set at their reception, where Siobhan played in her wedding dress. But their relationship wasn’t always public knowledge.
“We first got together when Siobhan joined Brightside,” says Leigh. “But we kept it private – we didn’t want it to cause any problems if things didn’t work out.”
Happily, things did work out, and Leigh and Siobhan are expecting a very special ‘new release’ in July.
“I’m definitely going to keep playing throughout,” says Siobhan, placing a hand on her stomach. “I want to show that a woman can still be in a band even though she’s pregnant!”
And with a pair of talented and passionate parents – and a band full of ready and willing uncles-in-waiting – Leigh & Siobhan’s offspring will probably be playing in Echo Arcadia before he or she can talk…