British born Nigerian ECKOES is both a sharp-sighted futurist and a nostalgic sentimentalist. In her music and her listening habits (she’s an avowed fan of both James Blake and Maxwell) she straddles the line between cutting edge textures and soulful pop hooks. A prolific songwriter outside of her solo project, she’s penned tracks for Tara Sutaria (The Disney Channel) and co-written and performed on releases with Danny Darko, Space Jump Salute and Le Visiteur. To say that Eckoes is ‘fresh’ may seem cliche, but to combine this with her authentic soulful sound it is far from predictable, but it is timeless.
As a writer and singer ECKOES constantly tests the water, fusing styles she likes with effortless grace. By turns, alternative R&B, swelling soul, urban electronica, and ambient, ECKOES’ project finds itself in the hinterlands of pop.
What inspires you?
I love people who make me want to be better and who aren’t afraid to be their most authentic self. I’m British born Nigerian and it 100% influences my music. I can hear my African influence when I’m always asking producers for bigger drums, but also my secret indie side when I want some heartbreaking electric guitar. We’re all cocktails of our DNA and childhood, and I think creating art is about trying to share that cocktail with people.
When did your musical journey begin?
When I graduated from Uni, I got a normal job and quit after about a year. Everyone thought I was mad but I went to music school, got various part-time jobs… and just started writing songs. Very bad songs, but just doing it. With music (or any art) you have to go right through the middle, you can’t skip any steps and just get to the good bits. And over time my writing got better, my voice got stronger, and I started to know my sound and what I wanted to say. I performed at The Royal Albert Hall this year and when I look at the journey it does make me pretty proud.
Is it still difficult for black women to succeed in the music industry?
I think all women have it hard, but black women have it the hardest because we differ most wildly from the “ideal” or “norm” and there are decades of historical denigration and exclusion that other races did not pass through. From ‘blacking up’, to only being cast as the ‘stereotypical black woman’, it’s actually pretty good now! And I’m grateful… I do think that some men find it quite hard to both respect and be attracted to a female public figure, so they have to put us in a category or their brains overheat. Black women have been over-sexualised in the entertainment industry a) because of our body type and b) because we haven’t been respected appropriately. There are some fantastic black female role models now and I commend them for doing it in a time where their battle was much harder than mine is now.
What is your goal other than musical success?
My goal is to show younger girls that no one can categorise you. I performed at Black Pride in sequin rainbow hot pants then went to The Houses of Parliament a day later to discuss diversity in beauty and fashion. These are legitimate sides of me, and neither negates the other.
In such a frenetic city, we crave intimacy but have to steel ourselves for protection. So, when our bodies come together with carnal force, they shatter to pieces; and in this one moment of utter fragmentation, we to try to forget reality.
On ‘Pieces’ ECKOES’ craft as a storyteller is laid bare in all its authenticity, revealing an artist whose sensitivity and lived experience informs her work. It’s a sensual number about what happens when the emotional fortifications we build around ourselves in a city teeming with life shatter after meaningful human encounters.