Mikky Ekko wants fans to know he has ‘arrived’



Mikky Ekko, known for his collaboration on the song “Stay” with Rihanna in 2013, released his debut full-length album, Time, on Jan. 16. 

By Managing Editor

After years of being featured on fellow artists’ albums and dropping his own occasional singles, Mikky Ekko is making a name for himself as an emotive artist.

Most people know Ekko as Ri- hanna’s duet partner from back when the pair performed the ballad “Stay” at the 2013 Grammy Awards, but the singer/songwriter released his debut album, Time, on Jan. 16.

Born John Stephen Sudduth, Ekko was raised by what he calls “very musical” parents in a Louisiana community steeped in gospel music, where his father was also the local preacher.

As he grew older, Ekko said he developed a love for other genres of music, which explains his genre-fluid style and diverse collaborations throughout the last several years.

The Chronicle spoke with Ekko about developing his persona, recording Time and touring with the band alt-J.

THE CHRONICLE: How did you come up with the Mikky Ekko persona?

MIKKY EKKO: I just wanted to keep things simple, you know? It means a lot to me, but I think with any- thing of that nature, you want to put it out there and let people respond to it in their own way. I could go on explaining it, but I think overall, for me, in the simplest terms I want- ed something that was simple and easy to say in different languages. I wanted it to feel catchy.

You grew up listening to gospel music. How does that influence your music today? 

My dad’s a preacher, and I grew up in a church. I grew up around a lot of musical people, and it was a pret- ty musical church. My parents are both pretty musical people. Music was just something I always asso- ciated with people coming together and it being a unifier. I listened to a lot of grunge and some punk and hip-hop, and as I got older my tastes and horizons broadened, but at the end of the day, I think it all comes back to your roots. When you can find different ways to incorporate that, you have the potential to make something really special: a reflection pool. 

What do you want your fans to take away from your performances? 

Hopefully a great show. I just want everybody to feel like they own a part of it. I spend a lot of time working on these songs, and if they feel more connected to me at the end of the day, that, for me, is the perfect starting point. We treat everybody like family around here, so it’s like even in the fantasy world, you want to have that bond with people. 

You released the singles “Smile” and “Mourning Doves” a few months back. What inspired those songs? 

Both of those songs are sort of bittersweet. When I was writ- ing those, that’s where I was, and I look forward to releasing more stuff because I am so excited for people to hear how diverse the al- bum is. There’s some stuff that’s much more aggressive, and a lot of the stuff I’ve put out … it’s all been pretty melancholy. I enjoy that— I’ve always listened to stuff like that. I’m coming into a new phase where I enjoy going a little more punk here and there or going a little bit darker or harder, more underground style … but for anything I write, it’s just about being in the moment. I try to write everything in the moment. 

What do you think makes Time such a diverse album? 

I just spent a lot of time working with a lot of different people. I’ve worked with the best producers, the best writers, the best mixers in the world. I’ve been really, really fortunate. And they all pushed me to be the best I can be in different areas, and I think that’s what I’m excited to show people. When you’re working with the best, the odds get better of getting something special. There’s a lot of special stuff on the album for me. 

Is there any specific message you want to convey to your fans with this album? 

I’m here. I have arrived. 

What was it like to work with Rihanna and perform with her at the 2013 Grammy Awards? 

It’s pretty much what you can imagine is what happened. It’s plain and simple. It was beautiful, though, I feel really fortunate. It’s been awesome to have that experience going into this album and my touring. 

You toured with the band alt-J in November. What was that like? 

It was great. I really like the alt-J guys. They’re a really chill group, and I’m a fan of their music, too, so when you have that combo… it was nice because I got to go and spend a day in the studio with a guy with whom I’ve collaborated a pretty good bit, Clams Casino, and Tom, alt-J’s drummer, got to hang in New York for a little bit. It’s great to be around guys who make inspiring music and do it on their terms and have seen so much success. 

Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet who you would like to work with in the future? 

In this moment right now, no. For me it’s all about timing, and I’m fo- cused on getting this album to my people and putting together a live show that people can believe in and giving them a reason to believe in me, and I’ll continue to work and work with people, but I feel like I’m sort of living the dream right now.