Mikky Ekko at Xoyo
It’s probable that until the beginning of this year, the majority of the crowd gathered inside Shoreditch’s XOYO had no idea that Mikky Ekko existed. It’s a feeling the tousled-haired singer obviously had himself, remarking at one point: “No one knows these songs.” There were a few whistles of disagreement, but for the most part he was right.
There was, of course, one track which everyone did recognise, a song which had lifted the Nashville songwriter from relative obscurity and set him on the path to worldwide fame. As the opening piano chords of Stay (the plaintive number one which Ekko co-wrote and performed with Rihanna) rang out, a reverent silence blanketed the crowd who held their camera phones aloft in unison. While this may have been the only reason many had come, the rest of Ekko’s set showed that he is far from a one-hit wonder.
His is a career very much in transition, an evolution reflected in the night’s set list. There was no room for any cuts from his debut EP Strange Fruit, a largely a cappella affair released in 2009. Instead the night was kicked off by Pull Me Down, Ekko’s collaboration with producer extraordinaire Clams Casino that had married his experimental pop sensibilities with a new hip-hop feel. It’s a sound that Ekko continues to hone, aided by his band of black t-shirted musicians, bobbing their heads behind keyboards and Macs. This combination of echo-laden Massive Attack beats and immediate pop melodies straddles the line between the experimental and mainstream, a complexity which more than won over the XOYO audience.
Above all this floats his voice, a delicate creature bringing to mind Rufus Wainwright, more than capable of gathering a bright power when called upon.
Ekko is currently at work on his proper full-length album, and he debuted some of this material last night. The penultimate track, built around a chorus of “Smile, the worst is yet to come” was sensational. It began as a nursery rhyme founded upon a jaunty melody before exploding into a colourful wash of synths for the chorus. If released as a single, which it surely must be, it has the potential to make Mikky Ekko a household name in his own right. XOYO may have just witnessed the birth of a superstar, Rihanna or no Rihanna.
Photos: Indrek Galetin
For further information and future events visit Mikky Ekko’s website here.
Watch the video for Pull Me Down here: