(Photo By: Bailey Goldstein)
In an over-saturated market of DJs and producers, it’s difficult for one person to stand out above the rest. Phoenix-based musician/DJ/producer Stephen Scotti, also known as Ekonovah, is paving his own way as he progressively gains traction on the West Coast. He is pioneering his own style called Ekotech and consistently gives us the fresh sounds to dance to through a blend of house, tech house, and bass house.
Some people are genetically pre-disposed to be musically inclined. Ekonovah is one of them. At merely two years of age, he started playing piano after his mother noticed his natural fondness to bounce to the rhythm of the music that was being played. It was not forced upon him; he willingly enjoyed the process of learning to play piano up until about eleven years old when he started feeling confined. At that point, he realized that he wanted to start writing and playing his own music. His need for expansion possibly also stemmed from a condition called synesthesia. This is where one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another. For example, the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of color so basically hearing words forms a melody and a colorful picture in his mind. This is neither considered a gift or a curse, it simply a different way of processing information and is it rather common, especially in musicians. “For some people, it can give them perfect pitch,” he said.
It is one thing to be naturally talented; it is another to apply that talent to work hard and transmute it into gold. Artists can often make everything look so easy as if anyone could create great music. Although this is true to some extent, as we have all the tools readily available to us to create, making something worthwhile and unique does take diligence. I asked Ekonovah what advice he would give to producers that want to create their own sound. He said, “It’s trial and error. In your process, you might hear some sounds that you’ve never heard before so see how you can explore and manipulate them. Don’t follow the rules. It’s important to know the rules but once you know them, know how to break them.”
The creative process isn’t always so glamorous either. There are times when the artist himself hits a creative block that can last up to two weeks. “The seventy percent completion mark of a song will come and then suddenly you’re hitting a brick wall that you have to break through. In every song, there is one hurdle that stands between you and completion. The way to overcome that is to get inspiration from anything that is artistic, like looking at a painting and getting inspired from that. Sometimes you have to sit there for five hours until you get it,” he advised.
Some of his current inspiration is drawn from his eclectic taste in music which started developing in his teenage years. Musically, Coldplay had a significant influence on him especially between the ages of twelve to sixteen. He was listening to them all the time and that led him in the direction of writing chords. Ekonovah recently gained a lot of attention with his magnificent flip of the Coldplay song – Yellow. In terms of ideas, Skrillex is his favorite but his most current inspiration comes from next level house artists, the Phlegmatic Dogs, because “their music is so danceable.”
Through personal observation, I noticed that Ekonovah has become increasingly more comfortable with performing onstage. Naturally, he is an introvert so a “solo act can be a lot to take in but it helps to feel the rhythm and start grooving with it. You get totally in the zone and your element,” he said. Essentially, becoming one with the music is the key to overcoming the anxiety of performance. He added, “I noticed a lot of people thinking they have to put up a front. They believe they have to put on a charade but the best thing to do is to be you and be authentic.” In a world where we are constantly bombarded with images and projections that aren’t necessarily true, it’s refreshing to see someone who projects their true essence such as he does. This is yet another reason why people admire him as both a person and an artist.
The future holds many bright possibilities for this young, twenty-one-year-old. He has already been supported by artists such as Herobust, Laidback Luke, Don Diablo, and Habstrakt. Recently, Ekali has shown support for him by featuring Ekonovah’s Lambo flip on the 2nd edition of Awakening Radio. Most notable mention goes to his current series of songs called Story Time with Ekonovah, in which he recently just dropped his fifth story. They all go together so beautifully. He is also currently collaborating with several fellow talented house artists, both local and abroad. We are certainly in for a treat as he consistently releases new music. Through his hard work and perseverance, he keeps coming up with original creative sounds, but he also puts his signature spin on songs we already love like his flip of Porter Robinson’s- Language. It’s the kind of music you can put on when you are having a bad day, and then suddenly you are dancing, and everything seems to be alright again.
Ultimately, Ekonovah sees himself running his own label and touring abroad. Fortunately, he is a huge fan of flying and enjoys traveling which is ultimately an advantage in this business. A large measure of success will be when he sees other artists making music in the Ekotech style that he devoted to pioneering himself, which I have no doubt will happen one day.
Catch his next performance at the Cazzette show on Friday, November 2nd, 2018 at AURA in Tempe.
This post was written by Rose