“It’s hard to explain what ‘Echoes’ is about without stepping back and talking about the album as a whole,” the R&B-tinged emcee Daren Todd tells in the days leading up to the release of his debut album RE:NA, a six-track project wholly written and performed by Todd but cultivated in the creative bosom of the Portland-based collective and label It’s Future Time.
“The name RE:NA has a few meanings and alternate explanations,” he continues, “the simplest one being that Rena is my given name. It's a homage to the inner parts of me that don’t always show, and an indication to the listener that what is to follow are candid, real thoughts and emotions from a regular person. Another explanation involves the semicolon, making the title read ‘RE’ or ‘regarding,’ and ‘NA’ or ‘not applicable,’ because honestly the album isn't about anything in particular—instead it's a portrait of all the feelings and emotions surrounding me coming to Portland and leaving my wife behind to chase after these music goals on a professional level.”
Todd arrived in Portland about a year ago for what was supposed to be brief stay. After a chance meeting with IFT co-owner Anthony DeMarco (aka AED) in Santa Barbara, the pair hit it off and Todd’s extended Northwest sojourn saw their personal and musical relationships deepen with Todd literally moving into the IFT studio while hard at work on this music.
“Echoes” marks the midway point of the chilled journey that is RE:NA, and its opening guitar riff gives the cut a lighthearted, sunny disposition. Todd admits that it’s “probably the most upbeat [song on RE:NA], although the premise is about missed phone calls and connections that happen in long-distance relationships. I wrote the song during one of those stretches that happened when both my wife and I were working full time and our schedules are opposite each other, making it super hard to connect sometimes. It was frustrating and lonely at times, but learning to trust in each other and stay focused on our long-term goals really helped us to make this year pass by; and now that we are together, it feels like all the hard days were worth it. I've always used music as a vessel to get my thoughts and anxieties out of my head and onto paper, hoping that there are other regular people out there going through similar struggles who just need someone to relate to.”
“It was actually figuring out that process [of how to create music] that supplied the inspiration for the project itself,” Todd explains. Documenting more than a hundred ideas over the course of “the past year I've spent here living and working in the It’s Future Time studio,” Todd says he “crafted a dozen or so songs,” but “regarding” the “not applicable” portion of this record, “This album is the first six of those songs, each one a glimpse of me at different points of this journey I've been on.”
Many feature labelmate Sage on backing vocals while the collective’s founders, iNDIGO, Sunday Grip and AED, provided production and mixing support as well as added some finishing touches.
But the final notes of Todd’s inaugural expedition come from back home: RE:NA ends with a voicemail from his dad providing some very sweet, uplifting support, encouraging his son to follow his dreams.