By Peyton Flynn
“I can still make music when I’m not using cannabis, and I can still enjoy music when I’m not using cannabis.”
You can catch Eddy walking around New York with sunglasses and a smile on his face. He’s a musician, producer, and overall super lovable guy. It doesn’t define him, but Eddy has a juvenile form of Macular Degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness. One in four people develop Macular Degeneration at some point in their lives. Eddy was diagnosed when he was 14. Cannabis/CBD aids people with Macular Degeneration by relieving pressure in the eyes. Eddy said that Macular Degeneration has helped him overcome caring about what people think about him. He calls it the “art of not giving a fuck.” Vision inspires Eddy’s music, for example, the song “Bright Side” off of his album.
Peyton Flynn met up with Eddy to talk about his self-written, self-recorded album “Suspended Belief,” to uncover Eddy’s experiences with cannabis as medicine and to listen to more work he’s been recording. Suspended Belief, which is available on iTunes and Spotify.
Peyton: So you’ve been working with the boy who’s 13? You guys are writing songs together?
Eddy: Yeah, we have been recording together, I have a studio in my house as well as a studio where I work.
P: You live by yourself?
E: No, I live with my mother and my friend. I was living in New York for three years, and my mom wanted to move up here, and I found a place on Roosevelt Island. It’s gorgeous and fairly affordable out there. It’s right on the water, there’s no scene really, but we have a perfect view of Manhattan.
E: So my record company is called Puppy Island. It’s also been a dog walking company for a couple of years on the side, and now it’s slowly transitioning. It started out like 80 percent dog walking and 20 percent music, now it’s 50/50, and the goal is to make it 100% music!
P: You are your own producer?
E: Yes, I produce all my stuff, everything you hear from me I’ve done on my own. All of the instrument and vocals to the sound engineering.
P: How has that affected your process? Has it made things easier for you?
E: It makes the music close to me. So, no, it makes it harder for me. But it does make it more affordable. I don’t have to pay anyone to do anything; I do it all on my own. I couldn’t do it if I didn’t do it like that. Working with producers costs money, but I also own 100 percent of my music.
P: Since you are on Spotify and iTunes now that must be pretty good exposure for you…
E: It is, it’s not much per play, but the fact that I’ve made some money and that people are listening is an exciting accomplishment. Now I’m just trying to take things to the next level.
P: Do you have a medical card?
E: *shakes head* Nope.
P: So, you just smoke recreationally?
E: Yeah, but there’s a lot of studies that show what I have, which is Macular Degeneration [Stargardt’s specifically] can be treated with CBD and cannabis products.
P: What exactly does it do?
E: It lowers the pressure within your eye. There’s a lot of articles out there about it but I also just like smoking weed.
P: Have you noticed a difference since you have been using cannabis?
E: It’s hard to say because I’ve been smoking for so long. But I think I have hit a plateau, and it’s not getting much worse, which is good because it (Macular Degeneration) gets worse over time. Like the last time I saw you, I had better vision than I do now. They’re saying that by 35 I’ll be blind. My grandfather had the same thing. He was blind by 30. But he also smoked [cigarettes] and didn’t take care of himself. I’m hoping that I can prolong my vision. I’m crazy about my diet, and I exercise, which I think makes a difference. I wouldn’t want to speculate personally on the big science behind why it works but the pressure thing I do know. I also have synesthesia which is when I see color.
P: You see color?
E: I see color with sound. Sounds for me are projected as color. It’s a pretty common thing.
P: Wow, that’s crazy. I’ve never heard of that. Has that always been the case for you?
E: Yeah, I’ve always had it.
P: Does it get enhanced when you smoke?
E: Yes, it does for sure.
P: Do you have a favorite strain?
E: Sativa for sure. I like to smoke before I run too. I’m running my first marathon soon, so I will probably smoke mid-marathon. I don’t drink coffee, so it helps make me hyper-aware of myself.
P: What’s the best part of your writing and recording process?
E: I think just finishing.
P: How long does it usually take?
E: Writing is very quick, I write a song very very quickly like sometimes in a half hour, and then production takes the longest. Sometimes production takes six months or sometimes up to a year or two. I’ll listen to the same thing a million times with different speakers and in different settings to make sure it sounds the way I want it to everywhere it might be played. In cars, in the club, whatever.
P: How long did you work on this album?
E: Probably five years, on and off. I put out another album about a year ago. But this collection of songs has been the last ten years of writing. I got into it in the last six months and really knocked it out.
P: Any tours coming up?
E: Not yet. I have a show coming up in in Philly on December 2nd at World Cafe. It’s my first time headlining there, I’ve played there before, but I’m headlining now, so I’m excited. It’s going to be streamed on WXPN so it should be pretty good exposure.
P: Who is opening up for you?
E: My buddy Ryan Corcoran. Then November 16th I’m doing an event at Vince. It’s a retail store in Soho. We are shutting down their store to do a charity concert. It’s going to benefit The Foundation Fighting Blindness, so it benefits people with degenerative conditions like mine. Twenty percent of what they sell will be donated, and the clothes are expensive as s!%*, so hopefully, it’ll be good.
P: Are cannabis and music synonymous for you?
E: I don’t know about that. No, I don’t think so. I can still make music when I’m not using cannabis, and I can still enjoy music when I’m not using cannabis.
P: What about edibles?
E: Nah, I don’t see a reason. I don’t like it too much. It’s too body for me. I mostly use a vape pen.
P: Cool, those have become popular.
E: Yeah, I think its convenient for adults. It doesn’t smell, I don’t have to smell like smoke, and it’s pretty unsuspecting.
P: How do you feel about the delivery services in New York?
E: They’re awesome. I have a private guy, but I have used them before. We used to do it all the time at the other studio I worked out of. We always loved that.
P: Were your parents ever against using cannabis?
E: Yes. My dad is conservative in general, so he is definitely against me using cannabis. They sent me to a specialist drug doctor one time to talk about drugs to make sure I was educated about drug use. And I guess it worked because I have never really tried any recreational drugs besides cannabis.
P: So is your dad still against it now that he knows it is helpful for your vision?
E: I just don’t really talk to him about it.
P: Does cannabis work for you in a medical way? Have you considered getting a medical card?
E: I want to, it’s expensive here in New York. There aren’t a whole lot of dispensaries in the area. When I go to California or Colorado, I love to go to the dispensaries.
P: How has cannabis affected your quality of life versus pharmaceutical medicine?
E: Great, I used to take Adderall in college, and I’ve cut myself off from that. I feel like weed does help me focus.
P: Have they [doctors] tried to push other medicines on you?
E: No, not really. Well, when I had a cavity my dentist tried to give me Percocet. But nothing for the vision. There isn’t anything out there to fix it. When I was younger, I used to use these eye drops called Echo. That’s actually how I got the name Eddy Echo. But they were terrible. This was a long time ago, but I had to put them in my eyes and try to fall asleep right after. They were supposed to decrease eye pressure, but they just hurt. I’m also a very nocturnal person, so it didn’t work for me.
P: Does weed help you fall asleep?
E: Yes, I think so.
P: Have you done a lot of traveling for your music?
E: Yes, I’ve been to 45 US states
P: What’s your favorite state?
E: I think California is the most beautiful state. I love all of the parks like Yosemite and just the overall landscape.
P: What do you think about marijuana being categorized as a schedule one substance? It’s up there with heroin.
E: That’s bull$!*&. I think I’m lucky for where I came from. A lot of people get F$#@! for that. I’ve been caught smoking weed before, and I got out of it because… I’m white, and I’m from a middle-class area. If I would have been from somewhere that I didn’t have resources to get out of it, then who knows where I would be.
P: So you have been caught before?
E: Yeah. I was driving through Texas with my band, and we got pulled over. We ended up spending 18 hours in a Texas jail. We just had a lot of weed and a lot of edibles The driver got charged with everything, so it was a felony charge because it was in his bags. But he had a good lawyer and good resources, so he got out of it and is fine now. If he didn’t have those resources, then he would have been fucked. The fact that it’s a schedule 1 drug is discrimination… and they use it as leverage to put people away. Even if you do your time you come out and have a rap sheet and then it’s just the snowball effect, and it’s just started with weed.
P: Do you have rituals for using cannabis like recreational versus medicine?
E: I use the pen the most. Like 90 percent of the time that I’m consuming cannabis is with the pen. If I’m with friends or something we might roll up.
Connect with Eddy on Instagram @eddyecho, through his site eddyecho.com, and check out his music on Spotify and iTunes under “Eddy Echo.”