“There were moments where everything felt right,” he says. “And others where I was lost in the unknown.”
Echevarria's demeanor doesn't give off the impression that he's a sought-after DJ signed to a major record label. His unassuming nature and open disposition are the antithesis of the stereotypical DJ personality.
“I was kind of an antisocial kid growing up,” he admits. “I began to DJ for a number of reasons, but one of them was to get out there socially upon my return to Miami.”
Although originally from Miami, Echevarria, who spins under the moniker Eche Palante, spent the bulk of his formative years in New York before returning to South Florida during his sophomore year in high school. Soon, he began DJ'ing and experimenting with music as a way to make friends. DJ'ing eventually turned into producing, and producing turned into a passion, and pretty soon, he was playing at events across the city at 17.
“I have to give full credit to my brother Joey for my interest in EDM. Growing up in New York, I’d be playing Guitar Hero while he was making all of these crazy electronic sounds,” he says with a laugh. “At some point, I said to myself that I wanted to learn how to make music too rather than just play notes in a video game. I can’t be more thankful for all of the insight he has given me since the beginning of my career, and I most likely would not have gotten into it if it weren't for him.”
Still, as a high-schooler, Echevarria's skills behind the decks didn't exactly lead him to bask in popularity; he was even pelted with eggs during one memorable performance. It wasn’t until college that he really found his stride, playing at frat parties and clubs like LIV, Club Space, and Wall Lounge. Soon DJs like Tiësto, the Chainsmokers, Nicky Romero, EDX, Oliver Heldens, and Sam Feldt were dropping his tracks in their sets.
Eventually, in 2017, after releasing a handful of singles and remixes, he was signed to Universal Music Group (UMG).
“I do not believe that artists need to sign with record labels,” he stresses. “I chose to sign with a record label because of where I was in my career. I had a song on Spinnin’ Records that did really well, I did remixes for UMG artists, and I was thinking about how I could elevate my career to the next level. For me, it was more of an economic choice. Signing with a record label provides you with a budget to expand your ability to song-write and produce music with others. It opened doors to collaborating with artists around the world."
After graduating from college, Echevarria had a decision to make: Continue with his music career or his studies.
He chose to pursue a joint law degree and master's in music at the University of Miami, with the ultimate goal of becoming an entertainment lawyer. But balancing schoolwork, recording sessions, and DJ gigs became a challenge.
“There were some days where I thought about putting my artistry on pause until I finished law school, but those thoughts subsided as I learned to foster a healthy balance between school and music," Echevarria explains. "Monday through Friday consisted of law studies, while my weekends served as the outlet for DJ'ing and producing music. I wanted to make sure I gave myself enough time to prepare for class and exams and restricting my time for producing music ironically fostered quality releases rather than quantity. I never wanted to downplay the importance of one or the other, and I’m happy that I was able to pursue both at the same time.”
Juggling a music career and law school isn't the only thing that set Echevarria apart from most DJs. He also never creates a playlist for any of his shows.
“When it comes to shows," he says, "I load up 1,000-plus songs onto USB flash drives and pretty much improvise the track selection.”
“I also enjoy the challenge in not completely pre-planning my sets," he says. "And thus I, nor the audience, ever knows where the set will go, which I think provides for more of a memorable experience.”
During the lockdown, Echevarria used the extra time to write and produce his long-delayed debut album. Although he started working on the project shortly after signing with UMG, complications with collaborators, life events, and, of course, the pandemic seem only to help to lengthen the production time.
“[The pandemic] was a blessing in disguise," he says. "For one, it allowed me to have increased personal time for myself and being with my family. I really didn’t realize how much time I had lost from playing shows and being caught up in schoolwork all of the time that I missed out on spending moments with family and friends. Further, I never really made time for myself. I was always preoccupied with something else. Now I’ve learned to appreciate self-reflection and just having time for myself — going on walks, taking drives, and just spending time thinking about how I can continue to be the best person I can possibly be to those around me and myself. These developments even went on to foster new inspiration for the album.”
As Echevarria reconnected with family and friends, he managed to finish five years of work, culminating in the release of Reflections in May.
“Reflections summarizes my life in the last five years. Some of the songs speak to specific events and feelings that I felt for the first time, while other songs are more open-ended," he says. "Some of the songs were finished years ago, while others were finished a mere month or two before the album’s release. All in all, the content of the album represents my life’s ups and downs, happiness and sadness, and anything else in between.”
With his law studies wrapping up and the Florida bar exam swiftly approaching, Echevarria is looking across the Miami landscape with a fresh perspective, understanding of himself, and a clear direction of where he wants to go as an artist and in life.
“In a perfect-case scenario, I would pursue being an entertainment attorney while continuing to write and release music," he says. "Nevertheless, I know that music will always be there, and it doesn’t matter whether or not I am still signed. At the end of the day, I started to write music as a hobby and never saw it becoming what it has become. It is something I will always cherish and have a passion for.”
Echevarria does have one piece of wisdom to impart to those looking to follow in his footsteps.
“I want to showcase the fundamental idea that you should write whatever you want, whether or not you’re on a label," he says. "You have to be happy with your catalog, because at the end of the day, I think that’s what being an artist is all about. You want to show the world who you are and who you want to be.”