Grammy nominated Shreveport-born, Nashville based singer/songwriter Mikky Ekko announced the release of his debut album, Time in the Fall on RCA Records. Preceding the album’s release, a STUNNING soulful little pop tune called “Smile,” out now (iTunes). Co-written by 29-year-old Ekko and Jim Eliot (Kylie Minogue, Ellie Goulding), produced by Elof Loelv (Rihanna, Erik Hassle) and executive produced by Dennis Herring (Elvis Costello, Ben Folds). The album will feeature collaborations with songwriters/producers with proven pedigrees across multiple genres of music including Dave Sitek (Kelis, Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Bruno Mars), Stargate (Marina & The Diamonds, Iggy Azalea), Ryan Tedder (Adele, Beyoncé) and Benny Blanco (Ed Sheeran, Jessie J), to name a few. Wow.
Like many Americans, Mikky Ekko first blipped onto my radar as the extra voice on that GORGEOUS Rihanna ballad, “Stay” back in 2013. At the time I didn’t really think much of it. It was a lovely song. The male vocal on the track was lovely, but I kind of just wanted RiRi to get back to singing dance bangers. Unapologetic, on the whole, was a disappointment to me. Sure, we got “Diamonds” but not much else stood out for me on that album so I didn’t really give “Stay” or that lovely male vocal another thought.
Then I decided to see Jessie Ware play her sold out show at Irving Plaza in New York City where she was busy on the final promotional leg of her Wildest Moments album. I was sick as a dog and I only had one ticket for myself but I got there in the nick of time to see opener, Mikky Ekko take the stage. Mikky DAZZLED the audience with an acoustic rendition of “Stay,” and I made the connection. Mikky Ekko…not just an anonymous lovely voice anymore. The Fader called Ekko a “powerhouse vocalist” and man is he ever, but what’s more – he knows how to control his voice. He’s not full force vocals all the time. He is a master of restraint, holding back with emotional intent in turn bringing the crowd to their knees, or at the very least a mesmerized silence.
I recently read in an interview with Billboard Magazine that he was asked to appear on Saturday Night Live, singing “Stay” live on the telecast alongside Rihanna and he declined. There was also talk of joining Rihanna‘s tour but again, he declined. “Ultimately I felt like the songs weren’t there,” Ekko tells Billboard. And like that, my respect for Ekko jumps to a whole other level. Performing on Saturday Night Live…a tour with Rihanna – these two things alone could have propelled Ekko’s name into the stratosphere but because he didn’t think his music was ready for mass consumption, he opted to continue working. If “Smile” is indicative of his debut album’s quality and sound I think he made the right choice.
While “Stay” was the song I first remember hearing Mikky Ekko on, last year’s “Kids” was another song that sounded vaguely familiar to me. Following the release of “Kids,” Ekko put out his first EP featuring a collection of songs taken from his performance at the iTunes Live Festival in London where he served as opener for Justin Timberlake. His Rihanna collaboration earned Ekko his first Grammy nod (for Best Pop Duo/Collaboration) in addition to being his first chart hit (10 million copies sold worldwide + a Billboard Hot 100 Top 5 hit). Ekko is no stranger to collaborations, first appearing on a Two Inch Punch (Sam Smith, Jessie Ware) single “Paint It Red.” You can also hear Ekko’s voice on dance tracks by David Guetta (“One Voice“) and most recently Chris Malinchak (“Stranger“). Mikky Ekko‘s blend of soul-pop-RnB-folk is a regular fixture on popular TV shows like True Blood, The Blacklist, Grey’s Anatomy, Orange Is The New Black, Homeland and more. While we look forward to the Fall release of his debut album, Time, we can also look forward to several projects currently in the works with Zedd, Gwen Stefani, Giorgio Moroder, Rihanna and more. Very exciting.