SSC: Hi Luke! In your own words, who are you and what it is that you do?
E: Hey Matt, thanks for getting me involved with this! I produce and mix multi-genre sound system music under the alias Ekula and am best known for being half of the 140 duo, Six Sunsets – my co-producer is taking a bit of a back seat role with the latter project at the moment but you can still catch me running the monthly Six Sunsets show on Sub FM. I’m also slowly building a breaks-oriented brand called All Colours, which is currently operating as a Facebook group, a monthly radio show on Threads Radio and the odd club night here and there – for our next event, we’re bringing Benton, Borai, Samurai Breaks, Charla Green, WheresNorth? and myself to Hifi Club in Leeds on October 25th.
SSC: So, to begin, what started it all off and how did that lead you to where you are today?
E: It’s hard to know where this one started really – I’ve been actively writing music since I first picked up a guitar at the age of 12. I used to sing, play guitar and mandolin in a gypsy/punk/folk-metal sort of prog knees-up band for a couple of years when I was doing A-Levels and then went on to study a degree in classical music at Newcastle University – electronic music always had a big role in my life thanks to me being a little wrongen when I was young and so inevitably I started learning to mix when I was about 20.
Getting bookings properly was difficult at first because I sucked at mixing and couldn’t produce properly, but I did a uni exchange year in Australia from age 20-21 and managed to get absolutely loads of bookings off the back of being a UK DJ – this led to a number of things like me doing a tour of Australia as a support act for my friend’s reggae band, running a few events around Adelaide and even organising the Adelaide Fringe Festival boat party for 2014, so when I returned to Newcastle I had a lot under my belt to get stuck in with.
I then started working as a promoter and resident for the local jungle night Lively Up (big up yourselves every time lads) and also met Jake (Drumterror) who I started the Six Sunsets alias with – we had a lot of fun throwing dubstep raves in totally inappropriate venues around Newcastle, producing tunes for labels like Fatkidonfire and beginning to get festival bookings, etc. But as the years went on and our personal networks grew it became clear that the alias would be difficult to develop long term despite initial success as we have such different tastes in music, branding, mixdown aesthetic, all sorts – so last year we decided to launch solo aliases. I was initially absolutely gutted to feel like I’d started again from scratch, but it’s been just over a year now since I launched both Ekula and All Colours and it’s been a joy to see both projects develop at the rate that they have, especially with the freedom that I now have.
SSC: Who are the main influences for you, musically?
E: Always a tough question to answer. I’m gonna go with Soulja Records, Benny Ill / Horsepower Productions, Daluq, Darqwan, Joy Orbison, Mungo’s HiFi, Silkie, Swindle, Chimpo, Aries, Jacky Murda, Chinese Man, Bonobo and Machinedrum.
SSC: What do you consider to be the highlight of your career so far, and why?
E: Under the Six Sunsets alias, I’d probably go with the US tour that we completed with Opus earlier this year. Aside from all the fun of the gigs, meeting people and partying, I remember one day we were chilling up in Northern California with the Heavy Traffic Recordings family as we had some downtime – we were sat smoking blunts on a rock in the middle of a big, clear river running through vast green mountainsides. The weather was beautiful and it dawned on me that music is what had brought us to this incredible place, hanging out with these lovely people. I couldn’t stop smiling.
Under the Ekula alias, I’d say the own-productions mix I did for Marcus Nasty on Rinse FM. Marcus got absolutely buzzing about my tunes, wheeled up three of them and invited me back to another show on the air – I didn’t expect to be received that well and it was the first thing that really gave me confidence in my new alias.
SSC: Any moments you’d rather forget?
E: Hahaha, definitely. I won’t name names but I managed to projectile vomit all over a dubstep legend last year on a weekday night, well before dark. It was supposed to be just us having a couple of pints and me handing over some 10″s I’d cut for him, but after many more pints it ended in me getting us kicked out of the pub we were in and him having to rub my back like a dying fawn whilst I continued spewing with shaking legs until eventually being bundled into a taxi. Very embarrassing…
SSC: Still fairly fresh to the table, you’re behind the All Colours group on facebook – what was the thinking behind this?
E: I am, indeed! So as you’ll see my influences listed – a lot of my favourite sounds fall into a sort of grey-area category that’s somewhere in between breakbeat, garage and slowed down jungle/hardcore throwbacks. I kept trying to find pages, groups or labels to link up with relating to this sound and just assumed there would be some massive group like Lengoland, Shitty Tune Share For Us Wastes Who Like Dubstep or Dnb Talk, etc, already existing and I got increasingly strung out about there seeming to be no platform or obvious label to send stuff to.
I also noticed that a lot of these types of tunes tend to be one-off singles or releases from artists who tend towards other genres and that there’s not really any centralised ‘scene’ for where these sounds can be pushed, so after a while, I figured I’d try and do that myself. I wasn’t sure if anyone would give a shit but the group has grown really quickly and we seem to be in demand for takeovers, events and more already.
SSC: Who should we be keeping an eye on? Any producers/artists/DJs standing out to you right now?
E: Yes! OK, so producer/DJ wise I’m gonna go with: Pressa, Hypho, Gru Var, Charla Green, Soundbwoy Killah, Borai, Samurai Breaks, Mani Festo and Stompz. For vocalists, I’m going to mention: Natty Campbell, Logan, Flipz and Zico MC. All of these people are well worth checking out.
SSC: Other than sound system music, are there any other genres or artists you are particularly fond of?
E: I’m a big fan of jazzy hip-hop and trip-hop. I love listening to albums like ‘Guru – Jazzamataz‘, ‘Quantic – 5th exotic‘ and ‘The Sound Defects – Iron Horse‘ for example. I also love most kinds of live/band music, whether it’s gypsy, metal, ska, funk, soul, blues, punk or anything else. Not a fan of indie mind…
SSC: What’s on the horizon for Ekula? Anything exciting coming up?
E: Lots of new music in the works currently, although I can’t reveal too much for now.
SSC: And finally, if you could give one piece of advice for those wishing to follow in your path, what would it be?
E: I’m gonna roll out a few pieces because I can’t decide which is more important…
1) When handling the business and interpersonal relationships side of things, be polite, friendly and understanding with people – you’re far more like to have people want to work with you if they know you’re flexible and easy to work with.
2) When it comes to your creative practice, don’t let anybody try to tell you what “your audience” wants – if you know there are people out there into the sounds you make and similar artists, don’t let anyone who doesn’t get it bully you into taking half measures in order to be accessible to their idea of who the ‘bass music scene’ is or isn’t.
3) The more involved with all this you get, the thinner a line you’ll tread between hobby, career ambition and unhealthy obsession – do yourself a favour and keep on top of exercise, your social life, diet and love life – you’re going to need to feel well and loved in order to deal with the stress that comes with the unpredictable highs and lows of this industry, well before you start to make a penny from it.
Big thanks to Ekula for taking the time to speak with us. Keep up to date via his socials here: https://www.facebook.com/EkulaSixSunsets/