Despite beginning to make music almost four years ago, it’s only now that John Stephen Sudduth, Mikky Ekko in musical circles, is beginning to gather any sort of mass attention. I say “gather any”, but in reality the expression is more accurately described as “gather a hell of a lot”. It is, of course, due in no small part to the stellar “Pull Me Down” – or rather the fact that Clams Casino handled the production. Also its no less spectacular Ryan Hemsworth remix. Going deeper into the singer’s – and star songwriter – material, however it becomes apparent that “Pull Me Down” is no accident.
Just how Mikky Ekko has managed to evade the buzz circle up until now is beyond me. Granted, there’s nothing as spectacular and succinctly standout as “Pull Me Down”, but the early EP’s the Louisiana-native put out in 2009 and 2010 already more than hinted at his potential. An easy example is “Who Are You, Really?”, from his Reds EP released in 2010, in which Ekko‘s smart use of dynamics and skillful production are easily apparent. It’s no surprise that it’s the song that put the singer on Clams Casino‘s radar.
It seems like Ekko knew he was onto something special because Blues, his second EP from 2010, expands on the atmosphere found on “Who Are You, Really?”, building it with strings and thundering drums on “Monster”, for example, or a more R&B feel on “Come Reckless”. Even before that, on 2009′s Strange Fruit EP, the singer and songwriter had already shown glimpses of what he was capable of, with songs like the Radiohead-influenced “It’s Only You” or the lighter “I Love You (I Always Have)”, in which he lets his vocals really shine (in fact, the EP was originally written a cappella) and come off as a cross between Grizzly Bear‘s Ed Droste and Thom Yorke.
Even avoiding going back into the depths of his discography, Mikky Ekko‘s recorded output from this year has been scarce but consistently top notch. “We Must Be Killers” and “Feels Like the End”, both released prior to his breakthrough track, should have done the trick, though I guess they might sound a tad bit too mainstream ballad for anything to have come of them. The latter is particularly stunning, as he pairs a pained vocal and a rich piano with – here comes the key difference – a heavy, yet subtle, kick and some tinkling atmospheric pads.
Adding to his charm is the future star’s personality. He comes off incredibly friendly across all of his social media, often interacting with his Twitter followers, including being genuinely excited for things written on him. Him offering the option to cop his latest tracks for free is another bonus on his end.
It’s taken him a while to get there, but now everyone has realized that he’s really set to do great things in music (one of which has been co-writing and featuring on Rihanna‘s great “Stay”), and RCA have already got him working on his debut album with producers like Clams Casino, Paul Epworth (Adele, Florence + the Machine) or Elof (Niki and the Dove). It’s due out next year, and, needless to say, we’re excited.