The relationship between Hip-Hop and R&B has always been love between siblings. Like most music in the past 100+ years, you can find connections here and there. As we know, Hip-Hop was born out of the Disco scene. R&B, Rhythm & Blues, was basically a love child between Soul music and, you guessed it, blues. You could go deeper and say that Disco, Soul & Blues are basically siblings. This is how I like to think when it comes to the music I love and the roots of said music.
It's also why I sought out to have an interview with an artist that primarily isn't Hip-Hop, but with the logic I just showed you, deserves a voice on this here site. Before we get into it. I want to set the scene. Because unlike the other interviews I have done so far. This one actually has a scene for me to set.
March 23rd 2017. It was a day after the attack in Westminster. As I arrived at Embankment and walked up to Strand, with Charing Cross station next to me, it was prevalent that London was a little shaken up by the events 24 hours before. There were a few more policemen and women about but regardless, the city kept it moving. My interviewee was a little late, not her fault, the main road was shut down and traffic was terrible. But we met in the end at around 5:20pm. We took a quick walk and sat in a small Caffe Nero, right where the main road was closed and cars were forced to U-turn. So... With the scene set, hot drinks in hand. My interview with ECKOES. Enjoy.
C: I always like to start at the beginning. How did you get into music?
E: I think it was a matter of not starting to be a musician but deciding whether to not to be a musician, choosing to go towards it instead of suppressing the urge and go for something a bit more sane. I have always wanted to sing but it was rarely an option. So i went to University, got a job and then was thinking to myself "What if I never give this a try?". I would never forgive myself. So I quit my job, went to music school, ran out of money, went back to my job, work a couple of days a week, music school on the weekend, couldn't manage it. But then I just decided either do it or don't and then I never looked back really.
C: Did you have any influences when you were younger?
E: Well i'm the last of 4, so whatever was being played I soaked it up. My brother was into stuff like Red Hot Chili Peppers, my sister was always into old school R&B/Hip-Hop. I remember singing to LL Cool J even before I understood the lyrics I was singing. My dad is a huge music fan, he has an amazing voice himself actually. We used to watch videos of concerts he went to back in the day so very musical house I must say.
C: Was your dad a musician?
E: No he's a doctor. Although I think that's one of his regrets, that he never tried it but it was a different time back in Nigeria.
C: So you have done three singles so far and from my listening of them. The only way I can describe your voice is "Grown ass woman". E: That's funny because I've always sounded like this, even when I was little. In a way I feel like I found my sound and have grown into my voice. As a musician you can be really impatient but I believe things come together when they're meant to. I know I don't sound like many people and at the beginning you fight and try to correct but I realised that's my difference.
C: So you tried to conform at the start?
E: Yea, because you hear other people because they sound amazing and you want to sound like them, then you open your mouth and something completely different comes out, so then I think "Am I doing something wrong?". But once you stop trying to be like somebody else, great things happen.
C: Exactly. Because when I listen to female artists its sometimes just a never ending battle to see who can get the high note. Sometimes it can all sound the same but yours is relatively low and that's refreshing.
E: I think now, there's so much music. That probably helps me out.
C: Do you think that with streaming and the constant availability of music these days, would it have been harder for you personally if it was 20 years ago?
E: To get out there definitely because back then you needed someone to say "Yes, this will sell and I will put the money behind you". Those gatekeepers are kind of gone but now there is so much music around, finding the good stuff is harder.
C: It takes digging.
E: Yea exactly
C: I appreciate that because its a cool feeling finding somebody that nobody has heard of and you like them so much your want to get your people into them.
E: And you feel like there's an authentic connection because nobody forced you to listen.
C: So with your music, relatively R&B, but the beats that back your vocals aren't typically R&B sounds what would you describe them as?
E: It's weird. "Human" especially is like a mashup of everything. Little bit of Hip-Hop influence there. Me and my producer we love Missy [Elliott] and you know how the bass in her songs punch you in the face with 808's, its so heavy. We love stuff that makes you move your body but then there's also a tribal element and that's me embracing my culture of sorts, being proud of that. It also has pop elements as well but it was just us recording a moment in time.
C: Do you feel good that you don't compromise yourself in order for a better chance at popularity or recognition?
E: Yes. There's such a freedom in not having to do anything. I think that's like the being unsigned aspect, similar to 'dancing like nobody is watching', you're making it for you, there's no outside pressure. Because if you have that, you may start to cut corners and then you realise "This is not what I started for".
C: So you've talked about artists your family listened to. What were your first artists you personally gravitated towards?
E: Michael Jackson. My dad has a large vinyl collection and everything about him, to me, was so fearless and pioneering. Again, a mashup of genres, some call him "King of Pop", some also say "King of Rock" he was everything. And I've always loved Missy Elliott, me and my sister are obsessed to this day. I also remember listening to Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill" which is still one of the best purchases I've made in my life. Just because it was so raw that you felt her pain in every single song and that's what music is to me. I respected her so much for that album, its a work of art and that's what I wanted to combine, saying to myself if I can do that then I'm doing well.
C: So I saw the other day on Social Media, somebody asked "British Rap or American Rap? Can you make a decision because I can't.
E: I don't think you need to, it's like night and day to me, they're very different.
C: Yea I see. It's like with some sports arguments, sometimes I can't participate because the argument doesn't correlate.
E: But I will say Grime, the movement right now is so great to see only because it feels like the first thing the community has started from the ground up. I love Stormzy, everything he stands for I love it. C: I honestly didn't see that album [Gang Sings & Prayers] coming. I thought it would be strictly Grime but it was very soulful.
E: And his mothers voice on it. It just got to me, so good. And what he's achieved despite doors being closed on him, it's really awesome.
C: I find Grime now to be in a similar position to Hip-Hop in the Late 80's. Because Grime has been a thing for give or take 15 years and in the late 80's, Hip-Hop was coming into the frame. With the Sugarhill Gang then Beastie Boys with first no.1 Hip-Hop album. Grime is in that same position. It's been a while, Grime has been underground for all this time and now it's seeping into the mainstream. And it's partly because the people who have been listening to it, people our age are becoming the mainstream.
E: But also the technology now, is giving people the ability to bypass the people that would've said no and then once somebody gets popular the labels turn round and act like they didn't say no the first time. People power, its awesome.
E: Well yes they still have their power it seems.
C: So d'you do music exclusively?
E: I work all of the jobs in the world to support it! While music is free to consume, it costs a hell of a lot to make it! Which is my gripe with streaming but oh well. Yes I do several jobs, I could be gift wrapping one day to handing out Ferrero Rocher's another day, whatever it is I'll do it, as long as I have time to also create, I know it won't be like this forever so it doesn't bother me at all. I meet great people out of it though. Actresses, dancers, writers, it keeps me on my toes.
C: So its networking as well then?
E: Exactly but it is tiring, doing 12 hour shifts and then you wonder if you have the energy to make music when you get back, i'm doing all this for the music so if I don't do music now why did I just stand on my feet for 12 hours? So its motivation to do this, succeed in the music so I don't have to do these shifts anymore.
C: It's all about the sacrifice.
E: Sacrifice isn't fun. On social media its glossy but you don't see the sacrifice behind it all. People in this age see fame as an easy life but what you don't see is the fact that they haven't slept in three weeks.
C: OK last question. Why "ECKOES"?
E: I go by “ECKOES” because I believe we are all echoes of what has gone before us, of everything we’ve soaked up throughout our lives. But more importantly, what we do now, everyday, will echo forward and become the new history. Which is why it’s so important that we make it something we are proud of. And we choose that echo everyday.
C: Beautiful. On that significant note. I'll end it with this. What's your Top 5?
E: Oooo. God! OK so let's do songs that have shaped me and make me smile, so:
DMX - Party Up
Ludacris - What's Your Fantasy. My mum said to me once "Luda is a poet!", interesting way of putting him.
PARTYNEXTDOOR - Not Nice. If i'm in any sort of mood, the first two beats of that. I'm like a Cheshire Cat.
I cannot pick just one Missy song. Everything Missy Elliott.
And last one, probably LL Cool J - Doing It. Just takes me back, dancing it it with my sister.
C: Great list. Thank you very much for doing this.
E: That's okay!
I would like to thank ECKOES once more for taking time out of her day to talk with me. If you want to peep her music including the aforementioned "Human", hit the link to her Spotify page below. Hope you enjoyed reading.