I took a lot of time off. When you go from a multi-year state of having a plethora of ideas and inspiration to staring blankly at a computer screen for weeks trying to conjure up some passion, you know that something’s off. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my music career, and one major lesson I’ve learned from them is that if you have to REALLY force an idea, if you have to invent inspiration that isn’t there naturally, the finished product is more than likely not going to be something you’re truly proud of. I didn’t really intentionally take a break to facilitate my ideas. I just slowly started producing less music and less shows and becoming more interested in other endeavors until I wasn’t involved in music at all. For a while, I didn’t miss it one bit.
I’d be lying if I said that the loss of ideas and motivation was the only reason I took a break. The grind was beginning to wear on me. It seemed that being a hip hop artist is more about being a marketer than a musician. Technology has made it incredibly easy for anyone to become a music creator, which is a great thing, but it also presents challenges. The over-saturation of the music landscape creates an environment where figuring out how to stand out is the primary goal. Many will say “just make great music and the rest will work itself out”, and although I’m sure that has been true in some cases, it’s not a viable strategy for popularity in this era.
I got into music because I enjoyed the creative process of telling a story in audio form and I loved performing it with my friends. It was that simple. As things got more serious, I started to think about what I’d need to do to turn this hobby into a career. I watched other artists in the scene progress from hobbyists to headline acts with a serious following, and I saw many of them transform into some sort of character. The clothes, the persona, the speech patterns all changed to become more distinguishable and “on brand.” There was also either some type of viral media (song or video or catchphrase) and/or a cultivated connection with a local gatekeeper or established artist.
Good for those people! They worked hard and made the right moves to get their music where they wanted it to be. But for me, this mindset got me chasing all the wrong things (unsuccessfully). I began thinking about other’s perception of me first and foremost. Making connections was secondary. I was worrying more about marketing than music.
I never really came up with a brand or cohesive style. I’m just a regular guy with a lot of ideas. After a considerable amount of time off, I’m full of ideas. And that’s what Allen Echo is built around: Ideas. Concepts. Different perspectives. Things that are interesting to me. I’m not going to try to figure out the type of music that people want to hear and make that. I’m just going to make the type of music that I want to hear and see where it goes. It doesn’t really seem like a novel concept (it shouldn’t), but it represents a big enough shift in my mindset to really get the gears moving in a direction that I’m excited about.
3FLECTION started as the name of my first group, and after I built up a small following, I didn’t want to drop the name and start over when I went solo. I liked the name (I still do), but it was somewhat confusing and never really sounded like a solo artist. I decided to rebrand, taking my middle name “Allen” and combining it with the audio synonym of “reflection”: “Echo”.
The first Allen Echo project will be an EP called “Simple Poison.” It is a concept piece told from many different perspectives about a variety of subjects. It’s both personal and political, with a more aggressive sound than you’re used to with 3FLECTION. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.
That’s as far as I’ve planned, but I continue to work every day. The future is wide open, uncharted, and I’m willing to go wherever this takes me.