Q&A with Mikky Ekko; Playing Unplugged in the Park

By Eileen Tilson

True art has the ability to haunt those who expose themselves to it. A truly great album has the ability to stop time, giving its listeners an escape for 45 minutes away from the world, and then haunting your life forever. Jeff Buckley, Sigur Ros, Elliot Smith, all men synonymous with making the sort of great art that seeps into your soul slowly, now must add another to their ranking: Mikky Ekko, the young ingenue from Nashville, who is gracing the stage this Sunday, as part of the Unplugged in the Park series hosted by 99X.

The first time I listened to Grace by Jeff Buckley, I did not understand it. I had to listen to the album over and over, before one day, it hit me, and washed over me, drowning my ears. I had the same experience listening to your music. What do you hope the immediate reaction to your music is?

I hope the listener doesn’t just import the record and toss it.  I hope they eventually leave it in their car stereo for eight months.  I’d love to have a listener put at ease just enough to pull out special pieces of the record for a second listen.

Are your songs more inspired from the life you live, the lives you watch, or the lives you read about?

The writing process, for me, is more like a river.  A river has a current, so I know I could easily get in and experience where that current is headed.  I may or may not see things on my way that inspire a song.  I can stand on shore and sing a quiet song to keep me content and wait for something to wash up, or I can walk the muddy bed around it, inspecting the footprints made before me. Perhaps I’ll even run into someone else like me.  Perhaps I haven’t slept enough and I can’t make sense of the clues.  I never really know what is going to happen at the river, but it’s always there and is constantly changing.  It’s more a matter of going there.

Who would you love to co-write with, dead or alive?

Probably Bjork.  Carole King.  Noah Lennox [Panda Bear, Animal Collective].

Your music hosts a certain sensuality, that seems to have disappeared from songwriting today. Are their any writers whose style you are influenced by?

D’Angelo.  Bjork. Buckley. Robert Johnson. Damon Albarn. Pixies.

I have worked with several musicians who have a special ritual or routine they do before writing music; is there anything you have to do to get into that writing mode? Any inspiration that send you into that space?

I like to paint my face. I don’t speak much.

Strange Fruit is your five-song EP, and now you just released REDS , and three-song  EP. What’s your method for releasing music, and do you have any plans for a full length release?

REDS is the first in a series of four EPs.  I’ll be releasing these all digitally for content sake.  When the final EP, RECEIVERS, is finished, we’ll go to press and do physical, etc., combining the four as a full length.

Speaking of, Strange Fruit is very melodic, almost a capella, and now you come swinging with REDS, which is definitely a more commanding and up-tempo. What sparked the move?

I began writing more aggressive songs that needed an outlet.  I love the first record and it’s indicative of where I was then.  There are many more songs on both ends of the spectrum, so I don’t worry about jumping around too much.  As far as the EPs are concerned, they’re designed to allow for singles packages and a smoother release, rather than one monster record.

I know you are touring with the Ten from Tenn team, but what are your plans for the rest of the year?

Organizing a tour of the Northeast and overseas with the gentlemen of Heypenny.  I really like those guys.


Food: Not sure.  I literally just read a massive article on MSG and its disguises, so I imagine my diet will be changing pretty drastically

Album: Bjork’s Vespertine, Beach House’s Teen Dream

Time of Day: 7 p.m.

Book: 1984

Holiday: Thanksgiving


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