If Mark Ronson’s inescapable current hit “Uptown Funk” goes on to spearhead a retro funk revival, then British female duo Ekkah, a.k.a. long-time friends Rebecca Wilson and Rebekah Pennington, couldn’t have timed their arrival any better.
At the forefront of a micro-scene which also includes Melbourne pair GL and stylish London trio Juce, Ekkah specialise in the kind of chic guitar riffs, slick basslines and smooth grooves that tore up the dancefloors in the 80s, which may come as something of a surprise for those familiar with their earlier incarnation.
Indeed, the duo only formed in 2013 after the disbanding of The Arcadian Kicks, a grungey psych-rock quintet managed by The Charlatans’ drummer Jon Brookes, and whose debut album was produced by Mike Roberts (Blondie). Unwilling to give up their musical ambitions, vocalist Wilson and keyboardist Pennington decided to join forces for “something more fun and dancey,” inspired by the likes of Prince, Sister Sledge and Madonna; and in 2014, they landed a deal with Year One Records.
There are definite shades of the Queen of Pop’s breakthrough hit “Holiday” on the sun-soaked post-disco of “Last Chance To Dance,” the title track from last year’s debut E.P., while the Purple One’s influence is also just as apparent on the bubbling synth-funk of “Ex-change.”
But the handful of other tracks unveiled so far also share similarities with the Californian soft-rock of Haim (“Figure It Out”), the sensual slow jams of Jessie Ware (“Only U 4 Me”) and perhaps unsurprisingly, considering they share the same producer (Adam Jaffrey), the angular post-punk of Bloc Party (“Holiday Blues”).
Following on from the release of their free summer mixtape and tours with regular Clean Bandit vocalist Jess Glynne and fellow girl duo Nimmo, expect Ekkah’s own brand of uptown funk to make an even bigger splash in 2015.
Photo credit: Jordan Curtis Hughes