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Reflecting on the ‘Recent Wins & Growth’ of Ekoh

He is the self-proclaimed lovechild of those raised on Eminem and Linkin Park. This has, unsurprisingly, resulted in great, new, modern music.

One of the phrases that Ekoh has attached to his craft is ‘heart hop’ – a genre that is all-encompassing in terms of the feelings being expressed through diverse, high-octane creativity. The influences that play a part in such range from nü metal to rap to alternative rock – ‘heart hop,’ like he says, is emotionally charged, and, again like he says, clearly inspired by the Eminems and Linkin Parks of the world. He knows what he is doing and who he is – no smoke screen, no ego, just diligence, stories to tell, cool friends, and slick beats.

It truly is evident that everything Ekoh does is conscious, rooted in awareness for himself and the people he brings in. The world is impressed, and growing increasingly so by the day, which is why featuring him in our virtual pages was imperative – especially on the cusp of his dream collaboration with Tech N9ne (out Friday). Check out our conversation below.

The best way to start this off is to congratulate you on garnering over one million monthly Spotify listeners. Each month over a million people are streaming and spinning your songs, and that’s not even including Apple Music users, Amazon Music listeners, other online and radio play, TikTok sound bites, YouTube, and everything else out there. How does that make you feel? What does ‘one million,’ in and of itself, mean to you?

Thanks so much! There’s a duality to that answer, because on one hand, if I think about the magnitude of that, it’s insane. I’m incredibly grateful. I remember when I couldn’t get 10 people to listen to my music, so acknowledging that number is a bit overwhelming. On the other hand, the climate of music and social media lately has a tendency to make things feel a bit disconnected and more like trying to hit a high score of sorts. If you’re not touring and meeting and connecting with the people listening on a regular basis, you can get lost in the number instead of recognizing those are real people with their own life and story that you are reaching.

If you click around on Spotify, you’ll see that the top five cities who listen to Ekoh are quite diverse: Denver, Chicago, and Seattle for the US, as well as Sydney and Brisbane in Australia. Why those cities, if you can sort of ‘locationalize’ your fans?

There are so many factors that can contribute to where you reach and connect with listeners, but at the end of the day, you can’t really control it. Touring can definitely have a big effect, but that can also be a sort of chicken or the egg type of situation. Australia has always been a market I wanted to grow in. I grew up a huge fan of Aussie hip-hop like Bliss N Eso and Hilltop Hoods, so in my early days of running ads I would always go heavy out there… and maybe it paid off?! 

As massive as your art is and as expansive as your talent Is, Ekoh sort of flies under the radar. What about where you’re at now – shining bright and collaborating with your idols and watching the numbers increase – do you love most? Because, still, you’re a humble guy.

I think what I love most right now is seeing the fans who have been sticking with me for years reacting to the recent wins and growth. They believed before anyone, and when all the things we’ve been working towards for years are finally coming to fruition, they know it’s because of the effort of all of us. I love being able to surprise them with big wins and moments like the Vans shoe collaboration, bigger tours, and dream collabs that are all happening now.

Let’s talk quickly about then newest single, “Doomed,” with Phix, since I mentioned collaborations. How did that track come together with the rap verse and what was it like to create something so epic after it was already taking off?

Phix and I wanted to do a heavier song to release and take out on the road for this most recent tour. He sent me the track for “DOOMED” and I liked it, but I really couldn’t catch a vibe on the verse, so I went in with my producers to create a more rap section in the instrumental for some new inspiration. Once that was added, I felt like we had something super special and I was able to catch a vibe and run with it. I recorded that whole verse in the booth the first time I heard the new section. I think whenever Phix and I get on a song it’s special, the most difficult part is always topping the previous one. 

Yes, and last year’s single with Phix, “I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE,” was quite a striking release, too. Reckless and poignant all at once, we’d say! Why do you think you two make a good pairing, whether personally, musically, and professionally?

I think we have styles that complement each other without overshadowing. We have such different perspectives, experiences, and sounds that we bring to our writing, but it comes from that same place of extreme authenticity. We both take our craft very seriously and push one another to level up and that’s always so important for anyone you collaborate with.

MAYDAY” might be my favorite single of yours in the last year or so. Can you tell me (and our readers), what the writing and recording process was like? Similarly, how did you decide to make this song a single? What about it stood out to you for that?

I had the chorus written for “MAYDAY” to a random acoustic guitar loop I found online sitting in my voice memos for about a year until I sat down with my producer, Matty, to make an actual song from it. I wasn’t sure if it would work as more of a rap-based song, but once we laid down the actual vocals on the beat he made, it just felt right. The writing there was all centered around some self-reflection I was doing when looking at my own patterns of disconnection and trouble with vulnerability in close relationships. When I dig deep and feel like I connected the dots on something that could resonate with someone else, I always tend to make a song like that a single so it can get the light it deserves.

At heart, you’re an ultra-creative, experimental, DIY artist. How do you navigate the indie path, especially as you keep rising and exploding? I mean… you collaborated with Vans, for Pete’s sake! That’s no small feat… er – feet! [Laughs]

[Laughs] Nice one! The one thing I know about the indie path is that it’s ever-changing and constantly evolving. The job and its duties aren’t clearly defined; you have to be adaptable and open-minded to anything and everything that gets thrown your way. That, and realizing I can’t do it all on my own. I have a small, but incredible team who helps make the machine move. Continuing to build the team around me with the best people is very important. 

This August marks two years since LOOK WHAT YOU MADE, your third non-Detour-mix LP. Next month celebrates your seventh anniversary of your sophomore record, Along the Way, and this past March saw the 11 th anniversary of your debut album, Zzyzx Road. As you continue to release music of all shapes, sizes, and sounds, what do these past records, mixtapes, singles, and milestones mean to you?

I’m so proud of all those records. Every release feels like a time capsule that I can look back on to see the evolution to how we got here. I’m proud that I’ve never been afraid to try new sounds and push the boundaries of genres. I think my body of work shows that… and I can’t believe it’s been 11 years since Zzyzx – that’s crazy.