INTERVIEW: We Chat to Birmingham’s Hottest New Duo, Ekkah
Comprising of best friends Rebecca Wilson and Rebecca Pennington, Ekkah was formed in 2013 from the ashes of Birmingham angst-rockers The Arcadian Kicks, and have since played at Glastonbury and supported the likes of Jess Glynne, Shura, Chic ft. Nile Rodgers and Kylie Minogue.
Back in May, ibis Hotels transformed its Birmingham hotel into an exclusive music venue to launch ibis Lates on Tour, a series of gigs providing a stage to showcase young, up and coming music talent in partnership with the Roundhouse.
On Thursday 11th May, disco-pop duo Ekkah returned to Birmingham to headline the first ibis Lates on Tour of the year with support from Roundhouse Resident Artists Malunga, Kenan Kian and DJ Nikita. All money raised from ticket sales will go directly to ibis’ charity partner, Teenage Cancer Trust, which provides specialist care and support for young people in the UK living with cancer.
SIXTY9°’s Lilith Hunt-Sheppard had the opportunity to sit down with Birmingham’s hottest new duo to find out their first records, fantasy festivals and future plans.
You’re best friends with the same name, Rebecca, hence the band Ekkah. So how long have you two known each other? How did you meet?
RP: So we’ve known each other for about 10/11 years and we met at school, I used to live in Lancashire and then I moved to the Midland’s which is where Bex is from. We literally got sat to each other in maths, probably because we had the same name.
Making it easier for the teachers to remember your name huh? So from there, the rest is history effectively then?
You describe your music as post 80’s disco R&B, which I love! Who would you say are your biggest influences?
RW: I’d say Madonna is definitely in there, she has gone through so many different stage in her career that the 80’s vibe is something that when we set out with Ekkah we wanted to focus on, and she was just like the bomb then.
RP: We do love a lot of 70’s bands like Earth, Wind & Fire, we love the party vibe that the band bought to the stage, the whole Soul Train feel where everyone got up and just felt the music. People weren’t even looking at the band they were just having their own party
RW: It makes you just want to get up on the stage and join in the party and get involved.
RP: We really wanted to have fun on stage and write music like that.
Staying along those lines, what’s the first record you both bought?
RW: Mine’s quite embarrassing, it was a tape, it was Britney Spears ‘Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman’. It was the first one I bought but when you think about it, it’s quite an empowering song. I was probably like seven or eight.
RP: I do know what it was, um, Billy Piper, Honey to the B …….
RW: Obviously we had the same taste in music
RP: The first cassette I recorded off the radio was the ‘Was Not Was’ band, get on the floor watch out for that dinosaur!
Yes I remember that one…..
RP: I just liked it because it had dinosaur in it so I just loved it. If it came on the radio I would get so excited and I have only recently figured it all out, but that didn’t matter all I heard was dinosaurs. That was my introduction into funk.
There’s lots of great talent that is emerging from the Midlands music scene, is there anyone in particular that you are excited about at the moment?
RW: We played Leeds recently and Connie Constance was playing, she’s not from the Midland’s but she is a new emerging artist that both of us are really digging at the moment. She’s awesome.
Ibis have transferred the foyer of the hotel into a music venue tonight for the Ibis Lates Tour, where is the strangest venue you’ve performed at?
RP: The strangest one we have performed at, I think……….
RW: The Secret Garden Party I think as there was a stage called where the wild things are and it was a tree. So the whole stage was entwined in a tree, the whole thing was really cool, And the fact it was getting to the time where everyone was getting really drunk, so there was people walking round in just their pants and stuff. It was quite bizarre.
So what can we expect from Ekkah tonight at Ibis Lates?
RW: A big party, we have not long finished sound checking and it sounds really awesome and we are in our home town too.
The event is in partnership with the Teenage Cancer Trust, does that make tonight so much more special for you guys?
RW: Definitely, it’s really great to be involved in something that is supporting such an incredible cause with all the proceeds from the ticket sales going to Teenage Cancer Trust. It’s awesome that we can have a party to try and push awareness for the charity.
RP: We did a shoot for Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign and that was really great to be involved in too.
You played Glastonbury a few years back, what was that like?
RW: The first time we played the BBC Introducing stage and I had never been before so I was like, “Oh My God” to see and then know we were playing it, gave me an overload of emotion. Then when we played again.
RP: It was the following year and we played the Pussy Parlour stage
RW: Yeah, it was pretty awesome. Once you have been once and then you play it again you kind of can say, We played at Glastonbury.
It’s that kind of moment when it’s like a dream as a band to play and then suddenly you can check it off the bucket list.
Both: Yeah, definitely.
As we are talking festivals, who would be on your fantasy festival line up?
RW: Wow that’s hard, Um so definitely put Erykah Badu in there…..We definitely need to put a party band in there
RP: Michael Jackson, obviously
RW: It can be dead or alive right?
RP: Can we bring TLC back? I would also really like Charlie Parker to be on there, I think it would give us a really good mix. I would just be hanging out with them drinking cocktails with them.
RW: Can we say Madonna but the 80’s Madonna too?
Is there anybody that you would both love to work with?
RW: We have always both said we would love to work with Nile Rodgers. He is a huge influence for us both. We have always been wishing to work with him. There’s something we call, reaching out to Rodgers, every interview we have done we have called out to him.
Do you have that as a hashtag?
RW: Yeah , Huw Stephens started it so yeah he is just Chic and we are both huge fans and we look to him musically and with their stage presence. The fact that there were two writing partners that were best friends and it’s just something that is really important to us to create that vibe when we are writing music and when we perform. They were one of the first influences we had with doing Ekkah, so working with him, that would be incredible, especially as he such a great guitarist too.
So it’s all about #ReachingOutToRodgers.
Finally, what have you guys got planned for the rest of the year?
RP: This year it’s all about our album. We have been working on it for probably the past year. We have so many songs to choose from, which is a good and bad thing. We are just going to focus on that, we have played most of the festivals in the UK. We are really just going to make sure this year that we get our album right, we need to spend a bit of time and really make sure it is where we want it to be. It’s our first album ever so we want it to be right.
So this year it’s all about the album?
Both: Yes definitely.
Ladies it’s been a pleasure to talk to you and we’re very excited to see what is next for you!
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