A year ago, Echosmith was an unknown maker of guitar-based pop with a debut album, "Talking Dreams," from Warner Bros. Records. Now, just weeks away from her 18th birthday, Sydney Sierota and her three brothers are platinum-selling artists, whose earnest and catchy "Cool Kids" single reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.
"Obviously a lot has happened. 'Cool Kids' literally changed our lives. It's crazy to see that one song can do everything for you," she says, sitting at her family's house in Toluca Lake. Recently she heard the band's newest single, "Bright," on the radio for the first time. She turned it up. "It never gets old to me. You should be excited about it."
On the mantle is a baby picture of her brother Graham, now 16 and the drummer in Echosmith. Somewhere is a wall covered in childhood photos that include bassist Noah, 19, and guitarist Jamie, the eldest at 21.
Jamie is married and the only sibling no longer living at home. They get plenty of family time on the road.
Tonight (March 27), the band's current tour will deliver Echosmith to the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, its first hometown headlining show since reaching the charts.
The group's days on the road are full, with less time for songwriting than ever.
"Sleep or write a song? I should probably sleep," Sydney says, but admits to making time to sketch out ideas or write in her journal.
"Writing is so soothing to me," she says. "It's as if I'm my own therapist. The way that I work, I need to either write or say something out loud to figure it out. I'm not super-internal."
The Echosmith track that has connected deepest is "Cool Kids," one of the last written for the album. The lyrics unfold with a girl looking longingly at other kids who seem less awkward, less isolated than the rest.
In a voice vulnerable and searching, Sydney sings: "They all got the same heartbeat, but hers is falling behind / Nothing in this world could ever bring them down / Yeah, they're invincible, and she's just in the background."
"We wrote that from an honest place," she says. "Everybody at some point feels like it's hard to fit in, no matter who you are, no matter how old you are, no matter how much success you may have.
"Yeah, this song is platinum. People ask, 'Do you feel like the cool kids now?' No! I still relate to the song, even more so now, which is interesting. It just proves that no matter what place you're in, you feel that desire to be somebody else or to compare yourself to other humans. It's a message of accepting yourself and being OK with who you are and who you aren't."
The Echosmith name sounds like an amalgam of '80s new wave band names, and Jamie will sometimes erupt like a fully formed student of U2's the Edge. But the guiding example is Coldplay.
The hugely successful British act was Sydney's first concert experience when she was about 7. She fell asleep.
Echosmith became a band almost by chance when a neighborhood charity event needed some live music. The Sierota kids got together and played a set list that included songs by the Cure, Rage Against the Machine and Rihanna.
It worked well enough to continue.
While Sydney got a taste of a normal high school existence, she was home-schooled once Echosmith's touring schedule became busier. And she's seen a lot, traveled the world and watched a lot of faces from stage.
Back at home, she likes to escape, taking long drives in a little car she's nicknamed "Baby Bean."
"Mentally I would have been completely different," she says, contemplating her life if she'd never toured the world, "because naturally if you're socializing with adults and hundreds of kids every day, you're gonna definitely be different and mature a lot faster. I'm not even 18 yet, but sometimes I feel like I'm in my 20s."
She adds with a laugh, "When I hang out with people my age, I'm like, 'Why are you talking about this? This is so not important.'"
On a dining room wall hangs a framed platinum sales award. She glances at it. "I don't know who put that up, but it looks nice on the wall. I like it," she says. "Even if 'Cool Kids' is our biggest song and nothing else happens, I'm still grateful that it even happened. I'm not worried about the future."
Echosmith, the Colourist
When: Friday, March 27, 9 p.m.
Where: Fonda Theatre, 6126 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood