I catch EKKSTACY in LA on a Sunday, the day before he leaves for Paris. It has been a hectic week, and by the sounds of it they only seem to be getting busier and busier. “I’m tired bro, I want to sleep for a week” he tells me, rubbing his eyes. “Would be nice”.
He has flown from LA to New York to perform a show, he tells me the show sucked. The next day he chilled out in his hotel, then flew to San Antonio for another show. “It was sick” he says, the slightest bit more enthused about this than New York. The next day he drove seven hours to arrive in El Paso, Texas for another show, “that one really rocked... it was sick” he says, shaking his hands through his dreads. From there, he flew to Denver, and then back to LA again. “Now I’m here, about to go to Paris tomorrow. Drinking and doing shows, living and rocking!”
I had heard the name EKKSTACY float around online, but never properly dug beyond the surface. I then finally heard ‘i walk this earth all by myself’ and was an immediate fan, regretting not jumping in sooner. While I'm such a fan, EKKSTACY isn't... “I fucking hate ‘i walk this earth’ I fuckin’ hate performing that song.” he asserts to me when I ask him what his favourite song to play is.
His debut EP ‘NEGATIVE’ provides a glimpse into the artist’s first love, telling the story of the relationship’s hardships and its eventual end. At first, the fluid blend between punk rock and trap music had me sold, his post-punk soundscapes don’t sound like anything else out right now. However, as NEGATIVE continued to be played on repeat, his lyrics began to draw me in on a whole new level. While deeply saddening, the 19-year-old channels his pain and despair into his music, allowing those feeling like an outcast to find a sense of comfort in his tragedy, truly finding an important silver lining within his artistry. “I make music because it’s therapeutic. It’s an escape.”
What have you been up to this week?
Uhhh... I was in LA last week and I flew to New York and did a show there. It sucked, New York sucks. I chilled in the hotel for a day, then flew to San Antonio to do a show. It was sick. Went to bed, drove a seven-hour drive to El Paso, Texas. Did another show, that one really rocked, it was sick. Then flew to Denver, and then to LA. And now I’m here, about to go to Paris tomorrow. Drinking and doing shows, living and rocking!
Do you ever feel like a rockstar after busy weeks like that?
I feel like a rockstar after I get off the stage from a good show, but that lasts ten minutes maybe.
What’s your favourite song to perform live?
Usually on my sets I’ll do the rock and indie shit and then my acoustic stuff. I really like the song Molly, it’s not even out yet but it’s just a guitar and a piano and my voice, it just sounds really cool. That one is really hard. When I performed it in El Paso, I don’t know how it started but I was sitting on one of the subs in front of the crowd... and I closed my eyes performing the song, and then I opened my eyes and the whole crowd had their flashlights on, so that was cool. I fucking hate ‘i walk this earth’ I fuckin’ hate performing that song.
That reminds me of how Nirvana hated performing ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. I read somewhere that they faked a power cut so they didn’t have to play it.
Dude that’s hilarious, if I were a Nirvana fan back then I would have really wanted to hear that song, fuck.
Which show of yours has been your most memorable?
Definitely the Texas shows, I’m not sure which one. And my LA show, the LA show was fuckin’ sick. The LA show was 200 people, the Texas shows were 1500, so it’s hard to pick. I was opening for the Drums. Opening is hard, it can go either really well or very badly. That’s not your crowd bro, you gotta’ be really good. Those shows turned out really good though. I was nervous the whole trip, performing makes me very nervous. I was having anxiety attacks the whole trip... but after you come off the stage, you’re like “Yeahhhh!”. I’m glad I don’t have a show tonight or tomorrow or the next day... but when I get to the show in Paris, I’ll be nervous.
I’d love a show in New Zealand.
I actually met a girl from New Zealand when I was in New York. I was fucking lost in New York and my phone was dead. I couldn’t find my way back to the hotel, so I just walked around aimlessly. I realised I'd get literally nowhere if I didn’t fuckin’ ask anyone. I went up to a random girl and asked if she could help me get back, I told her the name of the hotel and walked me back. She said she was from New Zealand; she was really cool. I like New Zealanders now! You guys are sick.
Your sound so far is awesome, it’s so refreshing. Can you tell me about the exploration that led you here?
I was making shitty emo trap before I was making indie. I just got so bored of that shit. I’d always been listening to indie in high school, but nothing like the stuff I make. I was listening to Mac Demarco, the slower side of indie. I found the drums and they gave me so many new ideas. It went from me wanting to make indie and having no idea and not trying because I didn’t think I could do it, to hearing one song by this band and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. That’s when I made ‘i walk this earth’. Bands like that changed how I looked at things, but I always wanted to make indie music.
How did it feel to find that pocket?
It was so cool, when I made ‘i walk this earth’ I thought it was bad at first. I wasn’t used to hearing my singing... I pulled out some weird ass voice for that song that I've never used before. I made the hook for it and sent it to one of my friends, he was like “bro what is that? That is so cool! Finish it!" So, I finished it the next day, and came around to it. I dropped it on SoundCloud at first, then we pulled it off SoundCloud and released it on all platforms. And since then, it’s gone crazy.
I feel like a lot of young musicians are finding more and more interesting sounds – do you feel like this is the beginning of a new era or wave of music?
Definitely, I do think so. I feel like I don’t sound like anyone else. I feel like the instrumentals maybe do, but the way I sing over them are different. A new wave is definitely here. This isn't all I want to do; I want to make metalcore... I don’t know if you like metalcore, but I really want to make it. I want to make trap shit; I want to do everything. I need to ease into it though. Once I figure out how to project my voice, cause all the songs I sing are soft. One day. Then I’ll get gauges in my ears... no, no fuck that. They're cool, but once you take them out, they're just flappy ears. Never mind, people are going to be reading this. They’re cool, just be careful. You can get it reattached right?
Who are you sick of being compared to?
That’s a fuckin’ question man. Fucking Poorstacy. I don’t give a fuck because we don’t sound similar at all. We are both black, we both have dreads, we both play rock and we both have Stacy in our names... but we don’t sound similar. We both fuck with each other, people are stupid. They don’t' know what they're talking about, even he knows we aren't the same.
You’ve just released ‘Negative’ - how are you feeling now that it's out?
Uhhh... I sat on that album for a long time, I’m really glad people like it. The next album is better, it’s called ‘Misery’. I’m so excited to drop Misery. It is going to be so good. Negative was more of a story, me connecting every single song over the last year and connecting the dots to show how it should be told, not in the order I dropped them. It was a conclusion to everything I had done this year. ‘Misery’ is step two. I have a couple of songs done for it and they are fucking sick. It’s going to be a fun album. That’s funny, one album called ‘Negative’ and the other called ‘Misery’. I got this tattoo of Misery here.
How many face tatts do you have?
I have three. No more... maybe more... I’ll probably get more.
Are you constantly experimenting?
Always! I always experiment to keep it fun and shit. I’m trying to just excite myself. I could stick to the formula I have now, but it’s not exciting me now. That’s why I won't burn out, I'm not making music for the fans, I make it for myself. I definitely care about my fans and I'm grateful that they find peace in my shit, but I make music because it’s therapeutic. It’s an escape. But now it's more of making music that I personally think is fucking sick. If I’m not enjoying myself then I won't make a good song.
You’ve said before you always felt like an outcast in high-school – has music helped you find yourself a little more?
Definitely, totally. High school was whack, I hated it. It was hard. People at high school with me don't even know it was hard for me. High school was trash and that’s why I dropped out. I’m still insecure and trying to figure that out, but I feel like I know who I am now. I like myself more than I have ever before. I’m happy... ish... sometimes.