Forged in the fires of depression and trauma, Vancouver-based artist, EKKSTACY, is no stranger to turning personal pain into '80s inspired indie rock.
Having turned to music as an outlet after a severe depressive episode that led the then 17-year-old into a drug-induced psychosis and a suicide attempt, the artist fully immersed himself in the work of bands like Beach Fossils, Current Joys and The Drums in between shifts at an Amazon warehouse writing dark introspective lyrics and catchy hooks. “Basically, I just went through a lot of really fucked up shit,” EKKSTACY sums up. “And that's what pushed me to become an artist.”
Fresh off an opening slot on Purity Ring's latest tour and a performance at Afropunk's flagship Brooklyn festival, EKKSTACY unleashes his new album, misery. Describing the vibe of the record as "obnoxious," EKKSTACY finds catharsis from mental health struggles and the trudging grind of the gig economy in a flurry of electric guitars, blistering fast drums, string-driven soundscapes and deadpan vocals. misery runs the gamut from 210bpm shoegaze to head-bopping post-punk.
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To commemorate misery's release, EKKSTACY premieres the new music video for album standout "i'm so happy." Opening with a lush piano intro before launching into a raucous guitar-driven indie bop, the visual sees the artist performing under a flashlight in a dimly lit tunnel and wandering suburban canals under open blue skies. Leaning into the ironic duality of post-punk's upbeat melodies and doom and gloom lyricism, "i'm so happy" sees EKKSTACY muse about love while betraying a gnawing vulnerability with lyrics like "My eyes might be cold/But my hands are nice to hold."
“I’m not a happy person," EKKSTACY tells PAPER. "I made this song jokingly, I’m making fun of myself. I’m making fun of people's perceptions of me, whatever they may be.“
Check out the PAPER premiere of the official music video for "i'm so happy" off EKKSTACY's second album, misery, which you can stream below.
Photography courtesy of Gilbert Trejo