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Ekkstacy lives between Chaos and Calm

09 January 2024
Despite the ever-growing pressure for new artists, Ekkstacy chooses to remain true to himself. From making music in his bedroom to selling out worldwide shows, the career trajectory of the Vancouver-based indie-punk artist only seems to be soaring. Motorik drum machines reminiscent of the 1980s new wave movement, reverb-soaked vocals and shiny modern production value all culminate in his music, helping deliver a wonderfully introspective sound for a fresh new audience.
We were lucky enough to chat with Ekkstacy about his influences, recent performances, the places his music has taken him, living in chaos and finding moments to relax.

Jonah Orbach Hey Stacy, how're you doing?

Ekkstacy Good, how're you?

JO Yeah, good, thanks. Where are you at? Are you in LA at the moment?

E No, I'm in Canada. I'm deep, deep in the mountains.

JO Kind of close to where you were born or different area?

E Yeah, like five hours away.

JO I saw you down in Australia in October for a bunch of shows. How were they? How was South by Southwest?

E Yeah, Melbourne was fire. But that wasn't South by; that was my own show. For South by we put a show on a boat. Obviously, just playing on the boat is cool in general, which I had never done before. The Melbourne show that I had on was fucking sick. I wanted to headline in Sydney, bro, because Australia is fire.

JO It seems like you've been touring a lot this year. Congrats on the release of the new singles! Can you tell me a bit about them? Are they going to be part of your upcoming album or are they separate releases?

E No, they're on the album. All of it is on the album. It's just like, instead of dropping one song at a time, we just thought it would be weird and cool to do two. We're just switching it up. I like dropping singles more than albums. So, it's nice to be able to do that right now.

JO Do you think the tracks that you have released are representative of the album as a whole or more specifically, a peek into little sections of it?

E I think since they're all so different, it does represent the album. My whole idea was to drop songs that were polar opposites of each other.

JO Being a fan of music ranging from the SoundCloud era to albums like Duster's Stratosphere, do you think these different worlds are equally influential on your music?

E I don't think I take any influence from SoundCloud anymore. Those dudes were obviously insane; they're amazing and they were doing it by themselves. I thought that I could probably do it by myself if they were doing it by themselves. Then I grew out of it. I grew away from it. I feel like I have fewer influences than I did back then. Now it's more external stuff and also maybe internal stuff about what I'm feeling. I'm still obviously influenced by other artists because you can't not be, but definitely not how I used to be.

JO Has skating had an influence on your creative expression?

E I am really into all the board things: surf, skate, snow. It's definitely been a big part of everything. I stopped skating and I've been surfing, which is a whole new thing that's probably cooler than skating. Definitely a big influence too. That whole culture is very important.

JO Did you get to do any surfing when you were down in Australia?

E No, I wish. I didn't have time. I was also just so fucking jet lagged that I didn't have any time. I mean, we were in a good spot, so I don't think I was looking.

JO Playing shows and making music in the studio both consume a lot of time. How do you manage the balance between being on tour and writing new music?

E I don't know. I used to make more music on tour. I did a lot of the songs on this album on tour. Touring is a busy thing, but you also have so much fucking time doing nothing. It's like you're going to be really busy for, like, two or three hours a day. But the other eight or whatever hours you're awake, are just empty, unless you're driving or travelling. I'm not too big on going out after shows anymore, so I'll go make music. Tours are such a fucking chaotic thing that I just do whatever I want in the moment. I don't really have a schedule, a plan or whatever. I am just doing what I can to try to have fun.

JO That's a really good way of looking at it, especially because it seems like it can be so stressful.

E Two years ago, I was definitely blowing it on tour, fucking up and letting it get the best of me. But now I kind of get it. I'm sure that in the next year it's going to be a lot different.

Courtesy EKKSTACY

JO Listening has moved towards streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music and further away from places that felt more community-run, like SoundCloud and YouTube. How do you think that has impacted the music scene?

E It has definitely changed a lot. Because of TikTok, I think people know individual songs by artists more than they know about them. SoundCloud used to be so cool because you'd blow up on it, right? just because of algorithms and people actually on there. But now it will blow up on TikTok and then it will go up everywhere else. But Soundcloud was just so cool because it was its own thing, and everything would just happen there. You're right, it felt like a community. It was fire.

JO Your music touches on very introspective topics. As an artist, how are you able to express such vulnerability but also playfulness seamlessly in your art? Is that something that you struggle to achieve?

E No, because I'm just trying to have fun and I'm just trying to satisfy myself. That's why I think everything goes all right for me because I'm not trying to impress people. I'm just trying to make something that I actually like that makes things easy, because if I'm not saying what I am feeling or actually thinking, then I'm not going to like the song. If you're doing it for yourself, it's going to turn out well. Whenever I try to make a song that's forced or whatever, I just hate it and it doesn't sound good. It's impossible for me to make something that's not me. Maybe it will only be me for a week or something, but it was me in the moment that I made it.

JO Have you found that the process of creation from album to album has changed? Have there been different takeaways each time?

E Yeah, dude, after making this album, I was like, okay, I'm never going to try to make something specific ever again. Misery happened on its own. For Misery, I said, I'm just going to make music until I find a sound that is good enough or maybe just one guitar tone that I can use across the whole album. Or maybe something like a vocal chain or something to tie it all together sonically. And then, I was like, okay, next album, I'm going to try even harder to make it extremely cohesive. That fucked me. I ended up with the complete opposite, which is the self-title record. Everything is just all over the place and it's good, but it's fucked. From that, I took away that I'm never going to try to box myself into anything ever again.

Courtesy EKKSTACY

JO Is there any advice you could give to any artists trying to make a career in music?

E Oh, man. Yeah, I mean, if I could tell myself something in 2021, I'd say just relax. When I started, I had this weird way of thinking. I was just like, no matter what, I'm going to be fine and there's nothing to worry about. As long as I just believe it, I'm going to be okay and I'm going to do well. And it worked. Then once things actually started to roll, I started to freak the fuck out. I didn't believe it. I got super fucked up and I spiralled, and there was a lot of bad shit that happened. I was super bummed. But then I just kept working and working and touring and just eating shit. I was doing all of these UK tours, these Europe tours, and these America tours and just fucking shitting the bed. But I just kept doing it and kept doing it and kept doing it. Now, I mean, it's not amazing. I'm not selling out a fucking Hollywood bowl, but it's a lot easier, it's a lot more fun and it's a lot more chill.

My advice would be to keep thinking the way that you did when you first started and just relax. Just have fun and enjoy it because it really could be gone, and you could blow it and be working at a gas station next week. I hated a lot of the months of my life since I got a career and I regret that. So just don't be so fucking emo and just have fun. Try your best.

JO You're in Canada now. Would you say that your environment is something that influences the way that you write or the sounds that you want to create?

E Yeah, but only in Canada. Canada's landscape and energy inspire me. Not many other places do it in the way that Canada does. I like to record in the snow. I like the winter and rain and stuff. California has been making me create happier music, which is something I didn't think I was going to be doing. But that's how it ended up. It crept up on me, dude. I'm making surf songs. But I'm having fun, which is all that matters.

JO Is there a place you're itching to go to next, or do you see yourself staying in LA?

E Fuck, no dude. I'm trying to get out of LA as fast as I can. Canada is definitely my number one place, but I think that I need to spend some time in New York. I spent time in New York the last time I was there, and it was insane and extremely fun. I feel like I need to do a little shift in New York for six months or a year. I feel like I'm definitely going to end up in Toronto at some point for a while and then maybe a small town in Germany. Those are the places that stuck with me and the places I want to go back to.

JO Is the quiet something that you're drawn to?

E Yeah, it's important. That's one of my favourite things. But then I also like walking outside and surrounded by chaos. But I'm going to bounce around until I can't anymore and then I'll go back to Canada.

JO Is there a favourite memory or show that you can recall?

E LA for sure. Earlier this year, LA was probably the craziest show I've ever played. It's the most people that I've ever played to at my own show. I was perfectly drunk and I was just going crazy. I flew my parents out and they had never seen me perform. It was just a whole fucking thing. You're a star that day when you're in LA playing a show like that. You're just like the coolest dude in the fucking world. I'm never going to forget that shit. But I feel like the one that I'm playing next year in LA is going to live up to it. But for now, it's that one.

JO Alongside that show, what's exciting you in preparation this year? What can we expect from Ekkstacy in 2024?

E I'm going to go back to dropping a lot of music. I'm not going to just drop an album and fuck off again for a year. I don't know why that happened. I think it's because I was touring so much. I just blew it. Might become a pro surfer. Yeah, 2024 is the year, dude. It's going to be crazy. I'm stoked.

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SEE ISSUE #06 HERE. The theme for this issue, Revelations, delves into the unfiltered aspects of life. It’s an appreciation and exploration of raw beauty, where authenticity reigns supreme; the unconventional is not just accepted but celebrated. In a world of manufactured perfection, this issue chooses to validate our quirks and idiosyncrasies. After all, they are what make us inimitable.

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