Noah Sierota, bassist with the Chino, California sibling trio Echosmith, has dabbled in production ever since the band’s 2013 debut Talking Dreams. In fact, he was exposed to engineering from a young age through his father Jeffery David, who collaborates with the group and is also a musician. For Echosmith, the 2023 third Echosmith record, the siblings chose Noah to guide it. “Cool Kids” from Talking Dreams has earned more than 145 million YouTube listens and in total the band has amassed more than one billion streams.
“I always knew what I wanted this record to be,” Sierota says of producing Echosmith. “I’ve come to the point that I know the steps to get us there. I spent a lot of time figuring out how I wanted to tell our story through music. It’s been a joy to map out that journey. I approach my production as an artist first because I am an artist. I did bring in other writers, musicians and our [former band member] brother Jamie, who helped to co-produce. My sister Sydney’s input was also crucial. She’s not just the singer. She’s a huge part of what we do.”
Echosmith was recorded largely in Sierota’s home studio, which he’s assembled over the past several years. But parts––drums in particular––were locked in at Lucy’s Meat Market in Eagle Rock. Indeed, studio owner Pete Min was also recruited to engineer parts of the record. “He’s smart and creative,” the artist observes. “We then brought in friends and even non-musicians to show them what we’d done and to get their feedback. I love seeing where those conversations lead.”
Organically or intentionally, bands will nearly always evolve. Certainly that’s happened with Echosmith, which Sierota ascribes to each song being like its own story or journal entry. “The storytelling on this record is more raw and honest,” he notes. “It feels more personal than before. Every song is related to a story or experience. Sonically it’s really different because we’ve grown as musicians and gave ourselves permission to do a lot more. I’m a big fan of capturing audio in high quality and then running it through something like a crappy foot pedal. You know: getting it perfectly and then humbling it.”
Many creatives struggle with completing projects not because they don’t have ideas but because when there’s no firm deadline, opportunities for change will always be found. Sierota isn’t immune to such challenges. “I don’t believe that a song can ever be finished,” he observes. “There’s always more that I could do. I’ll hear some of our old stuff and think ‘I wish I’d done something more.’ But there’s value in letting something be what it is. Outside input is helpful as is a timeframe. We announced that this record was coming out before it was finished. Ultimately, there’s no such thing as perfect but when our foster kids sing along or dance to a song, we know it’s ready.”
Among his favorite studio gear is the Blue Bottle condenser tube mic, Hazelrig compressors and Chase Bliss' CXM 1978 reverb effects pedal. “That thing is not just a guitar pedal,” he asserts. “I used it all over the record and it was a ton of fun. The sonic quality is incredible. Being able to use faders instead of knobs changes how you’re moving things. It feels organic. Every producer should have one.”
The three most important lessons he’s learned as a producer are:
- Give yourself space for contentment.
- It’s okay to learn to do things in the way that you want to do them.
- Find a balance between needing and appreciating outside input but not being directed by it. The song is what should direct the production.
Echosmith dropped July. A tour planned for the fall kicked off in Europe, with U.S. dates to follow in the New Year. Sierota aims to produce not only future Echosmith records but other bands as well. “When I move, I plan to build a full-on studio where I’ll bring in outside artists,” he says. “I want to be able to support them in the same way that I support my own band.”