Echelon the Seeker: The Search for Meaning and Self-Discovery
“Echelon the Seeker is a project of meaning and discovery. The trudging of mind and spirit in the foliage of truth.”
On April 15, 2017 we attended the first annual Fox Fest put on by The Fox & Monocle Collective. It was a sold-out event with chill, artsy vibes, and mesmerizing rhythms that took over Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment in Huntsville, Alabama. We had a blast and as promised, all this month we are highlighting some of the creative minds that made this event the success it was.
The Fox and Monocle Collective formed in 2012 initially as a college art and production club. Iman Qing, one of the founding members expressed that, “We felt Oakwood University was in need of a creative environment for artists to share and express themselves in an open space, we hoped to supply a need that was not being fulfilled.”
The idea of hosting a music festival (Fox Fest) originated within the collective shortly after their first private open studio session held at an apartment in Huntsville. The Fox Fest was meant to be a place in which creators and those who have dedicated their energy to passion and purpose to showcase their talents. The festival was a celebration of creation.
We had the opportunity to talk a little with artist, Echelon the Seeker (Jason Sellers) just before his set during Fox Fest. Since then, he’s been featured on the Afropunk blog. Check out his self-titled, debut EP at the end of this post.
Rachael: So Jason what is the meaning behind the name Echelon the Seeker?
Echelon the Seeker: Echelon the Seeker it's basically just a moniker. It just means looking to go higher. My mom always used to say to me when I was growing up, “We're truth seekers. We look for the truth no matter what you do in life. Just always look for the truth.” At the point in my life where I came up with "Echelon" a lot of bad things had happened to me and I felt like I was at a low point. I wanted to go higher. So I was just thinking "Echelon" trying to just get to that next level and look for whatever's next, whatever's good for me. So Echelon the Seeker--looking to go higher is basically what it means.
R: So a lot of people know you from the 911 Reporters (former band). How did you transition into solo artistry and what inspired you to take that route?
E: Well I guess at that point, everybody had graduated in the band. Dre (former bandmate from 911 Reporters) was gone pretty much, Sam (former bandmate from 911 Reporters) graduated, and everyone was getting married and stuff like that, so the group was slowing down a little bit. I had all this music saved up for the  Reporters that was just basically shelved and I was like, “You know what let me go ahead and just put my own money into it and just do it. So I finally just got the balls and just got it done.
Jode-Leigh: So I bump your album every day.
E: Oh snap, bless man. [laughs]
J: No seriously! It reminds me of so many different things like the 80s, Prince (low-key), classical music, I just made this up but “soul-trap.” [laughs]
E: Yo true, true, true!
J: ...what else, Coldplay, gospel, an infusion of so many things but so very unique and very true to you.
So the song “Mayim Dream” that is my jam.
E: Oh for real?
J: I wish it were longer!
J: Yea it’s so beautiful, I cry every time I hear it.
E: Really?! Wow, with the synth? A lot of people haven’t said anything to me about that song; it’s very special to me.
J: What inspired that song both musically and emotionally?
E: Well that song, I don't know if a lot of people know this but the “Echelon the Seeker” is actually a concept album. It's about a character or whatever. And during that song, the character is traveling, and so really it's just an interlude about the character going from one place or another. That's in the story, but just me personally I just was vibing honestly. I did that all in one take, which is like crazy. That's actually the only song I did in one take and I'm very, very glad it turned out the way it did. Really interesting, Dre wrote the lyrics for that too.
J: Looking at all the credits for the album, I noticed you utilize a lot of people you went to school with. How important was it to have your people involved musically?
E: It was huge. It was a blessing, you know. It also helped me save some money [laughs]. I think whom we’re most directly inspired by are the people that we’re around, the people whom we see every day, whom we interact with and luckily I'm around some really wonderful people. Dre, Marcellus, my little brother [Andrew Sellers]...they're just really good artists in their own right and they have a lot to say. So just being able to utilize them was huge because we already had the relationship. It was it was almost like I didn't have to ask them they were already there the whole time so it just worked out really good.
J: So as you solidify your place in the music world, what message do you hope your fans gain from your music?
E: Hmm...self-realization. I hope people take my music and they don't just see it as entertainment. I hope it calls them to action to make their environment better, to make people around them better. To make themselves better you know? To self-identify, I hope it brings identity to our community, especially the black community. The “Chosen Ones” is about that. This song is essentially about black folks coming through self-realization. So I hope people can take something very positive from the album and transfer it to other areas in their life, that's what it's for. It's not just entertainment.