Last December, I was at the 12th and Porter in Nashville to see different band when Mikky Ekko sauntered on stage, his face slashed with paint. I was instantly taken in. Part of the recent Ten Out of Tenn tour, the young singer/songwriter has released two EPs showcasing his raw talent: Strange Fruits and REDS.
Paste: What would be, in your opinion, the ideal situation for someone to be in the first time they hear your music?
Mikky Ekko: If someone is in a reflective mood, that definitely helps, but people rarely are so I don’t expect much from listeners. Hopefully the first listen will open the door for a second exploration and more in depth listen.
Paste: How would you describe your sound in five words?
Ekko: Two lovebirds in a Hurricane.
Paste: Your path as a solo artist is an interesting one. You started in Nashville as a back up singer, right? Take us through that evolution.
Ekko: I began as a back-up singer for an artist called Space Capone. It was a lot of fun and the energy was great, but it definitely wasn’t satisfying my urge to create my own music. From there I wrote heavily on my own and met up with producer Tim Lauer and engineer Dan Hansen who helped bring the creation to life. We’re currently working on EP number 3, entitled BLUES. It should be finished very soon. Tracked an orchestra. It’s almost too much for me to handle right now. Tim was great for arranging that around some vocal parts and then going out on his own. Really sounds incredible.
Paste: You’re releasing your next album in four parts digitally the next few months leading up to the release of the full length. Why did you choose to do it this way?
Ekko: It’s much more efficient for release content with the budget we’ve got. It also gives us a chance to see how people are responding to what we’re releasing. This release style gives us an opportunity to do remixes of certain songs to compliment the full length and ultimately provide more content at a faster rate.
Paste: I’ve heard that you song write with just your voice. Explain your songwriting process.
Ekko: Every songwriter knows this process. You hear something. You commit it to memory. You hear what’s happening around it and you orchestrate around it to make it work. Typically I’ll record the melody I’m hearing and by the time I bring it in, I’ve already recorded a beat, and up to 20 tracks of vocals. We take this and add to it.
Paste: What do you think of auto tune?
Ekko: Depends how it’s used. I like using it to create dissonance or throw someone off. I typically don’t use it unless I intentionally want to remove the organic feel of the take or make it more robotic. I don’t really care whether other people use it or not. If I like it, then I’ll like it and if I don’t, then I’ll probably never listen to it again.
Paste: Outside of musical influences, what else are you influenced by?
Ekko: I am highly motivated by conspiracy theories. And the idea of loneliness.
Paste: Indie artists always seem to deal with the issue of “selling out”. Are there any fans you do not want?
Ekko: Serial killers, I suppose. I prefer serial killers do not enjoy my music. So if you’re reading this, be warned. You know who you are.
Paste: What other bands are you listening to right now?
Ekko: Little Dragon, Beach House, Gorillaz, Flying Lotus, Blonde Redhead
Paste: What’s next? Is there a tour in your future?
Ekko: I can only say there are much bigger things happening underground than above it right now. We will continue recording this record and keep you posted, though.