Jay, Mike, Randy, Devin and Gama are ECHO V, five guys with distinct, echoing voices that combine to create one beautiful sound. By all outward appearances, they seem to be the typical boyband with good looks, lush harmonies and killer choreography, but they have one important difference: they’re all gay. Their debut single, “Rainbow,” reflects their decision to be out about their sexuality. While it is a fun, high energy pop anthem with an explosive hook that will get listeners dancing and singing, it also has an important message. “Be proud,” explains Jay. “Our hope is that the song inspires people to stand up and claim their truth, be happy with who they are and find comfort in the fact that they are not alone.” ECHO V’s “Rainbow” is available via the band’s website. The music video is on Youtube.
“The narrative in ‘Rainbow’ is personal,” Jay continues from the Los Angeles studio where the band recorded the song. “It kind of came from a place deep within that was filled with despair and even frustration. The first few lines of the song are about finding yourself. It then continues with how the struggle to conform to society’s standards can be harmful to some. In the second verse, there is a moment of acceptance and defiance where we come to terms with how this one life is for us and not for them.”
“Rainbow is about unapologetically owning your multifaceted-ness and realizing that you have to live for yourself. It’s a journey to self-discovery and the strength it takes to live life in the open, day in and out.”
Part of what the boys of ECHO V are hoping to break is the stereotype that being an out, gay musician is a nail in the coffin of an artist’s career. In 2018, the entertainment industry is more vibrant than ever with the mainstream success of television shows like Queer Eye and RuPaul’s Drag Race; but there is still progress to be made, especially in the music arena. “We hope our album can be enjoyed by all regardless of age, gender, sexuality or race because art and creation is universal,” says Mike.
Mike helped to conceptualize the music video for “Rainbow,” along with videographer Chris Greenwell and editor Adam Amore. They drew inspiration from The Wizard of Oz in terms of color scheme and the switch from black and white to color. (Sharp listeners will notice the lyrics of the song also draw inspiration from The Wizard of Oz.) The video cuts back and forth between ECHO V singing and real people of all different shapes, sizes and colors marching in Pride parades. Mike felt it important that the video show the personalities of each boy in the band but also show something bigger than ECHO V: the diverse world around us.
“It seemed only fitting that a song called ‘Rainbow’ show a rainbow of people,” he explains.
Mike was born in Pennsylvania and moved to Rhode Island when he was 10. He grew up in a typical working-middle class household with his parents fully supporting his love for music and financing his hopes and dreams the best they could, for which he is extremely grateful. Unfortunately, they weren’t as supportive of their son being gay.
Jay, (from Sanford, NC), Gama, (Mexico), Randy (Denver) and Devin, a self-described musical theater nerd who grew up in central Florida, also experienced difficulty with family after coming out to them. “My mother would be a lot happier if I were not gay,” admits Jay. But their relationship is strong today and she remains very supportive of his music.
Gama, Randy and Devin also say their relationships with family have gotten better.
The five were united by their management who were looking to build the next generation of boy band. At first, management didn’t know the group they had assembled were all gay. It was the guys that realized it after coming together. They and management decided to go with it. “At the end of the day we are musicians who take a great pride in the art we create,” Jay explains. “We want listeners to be proud of who they are and there is no other way for us to do that other than to be honest with who we are.”
Says Mike, “I hope listeners find something fresh in ECHO V. Something different.”
“Is it over zealous to hope they find the voice of a generation?” he questions, with a grin.