Five Minutes With: Ekali
We catch up with the Canadian RBMA graduate ahead of his upcoming debut Australian tour.
Since arriving on the electronic scene three years ago, Vancouver-based producer and Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) graduate Ekali has grown astronomically. His SoundCloud is littered with both intoxicating, slow-burning R&B jams and primal trap bangers, with both sides of his complex productions earning him a legion of loyal fans, writing credits on Drake's If You're Reading This It's Too Late and saw him sign to the now bustling Flow-Fi collective. Ahead of his upcoming Australian tour, we caught up with the Canadian don to talk about his RBMA experience, his production process and anime.
Hey man! What’s up? How are things at the moment?
Heya! Things are great! Currently spending my last day at home in Vancouver preparing to leave for my world tour.
So let’s kick it off by talking about how it all started. Before getting into the more the electronic side of things, you were originally playing in bands in Vancouver. Was there a particular reason why you moved to electronic music?
I was trying all sorts of musical mediums out at the time, trying to find the process that fulfilled me creatively. I tried singing/songwriting, writing instrumental music, etc.. but I didn’t find something that was exciting and gratifying for me as a songwriter until I tried my hand at electronic music.
You went over to Tokyo for the RBMA in 2014, what was that experience like? Has anything stuck with you from your time over there?
RBMA was hands down the best experience of my life. It’s hard to pin down one thing that I took home from Japan, but I will say that I learned a lot about myself over there - both musically and personally. There’s something magical about throwing yourself into an amalgamation of dozens of musicians from completely different ethnic and musical backgrounds. It was a beautiful experience.
When going through your SoundCloud, half of it is this real emotional, R&B-infused music, and the other half are straight out trap bangers. Is there a particular side of your work that you prefer producing if there’s any difference at all?
I think it depends on my mood. The slower, more melodic music is nice to make when I’m feeling neutral or reflective while the heavy bangers are nice for cathartic relief. If I’m feeling angry or pissed off, I tend to write good trap music.
You just dropped your Smoke & Retribution remix, literally about four days after the original dropped – which is insane. Can you take us through your typical production process?
I believe that remix was done, start to finish, in about 7 hours on the Friday, one day after the original was released. I waited until Monday to release as weekends aren’t the best for putting out music. My production process varies depending on the song, but I always come up with a strong concept for a tune before I even open up my computer. In this case, my goal was to rearrange the two vocalists’ roles in the tune and to write an instrumental section of my own.
Moving into the future of Ekali, you’ve got a heap of Australian dates coming up shortly. Is there anything you're particularly keen to check out while you’re over here in the lands down under?
I honestly have no idea what to expect. I’ve been afraid of deadly poisonous insects my entire life so I feel like this may be my time to overcome that by going for a hike out in the Australian bush. I also hear Australians make the meanest espresso around. That makes me happy.
Is there anything else in the works for Ekali this year that you’re allowed to tell us?
I can tell you that I have shows booked all around the world all the way through September and that I am working hard on all-original music right now. I will hopefully have an EP to show for it very soon.
And finally, I know you’ve got quite the collection of anime samples throughout your work, so what’s your pick as your favourite anime film or series?
For sampling - my favourite series is Mushishi. If I had to pick my favourite anime series of all time, taking obscurity points into play, it would be Noein: To Your Other Self. It’s about traveling through different dimensions of space-time - it's pretty neat.
Ekali will be in the country for a round of tour dates across Australia and New Zealand, kicking off at Sydney's Chinese Laundry on March 3rd. You can follow Ekali on FACEBOOK, TWITTER and SOUNDCLOUD, and check out the upcoming tour dates below.
**Note: Ekali will be performing in Perth on March 5th, with Brisbane's show at The TBC Club instead to be held on March 12th.**