The Queens husband/wife duo of Ekra describes their musical style as “okapi,” after the African mammal. Also called the zebra giraffe, they are known for their distinct, strikingly lined markings. Like those animals, Ekra stands out with a unique signature.
The band plays experimental music that dips into the waters of shoegaze or progressive rock, but with an energy, passion and focus that draws you in. The couple, Lee (drums, vocals and keyboard) and Brendan (vocals, bass and keyboard) met on Craigslist in 2004, when Lee was looking to join a band. Once the two of them got rehearsing, along with a bassist who is no longer with the group, Ekra was born.
Over the course of three records, Ekra has moved from one challenge to another, some self-imposed and some from outside circumstances. For the band’s 2009 debut, “Moons,” the duo decided to carry on without their bassist by having Brendan switch to the instrument and removing guitars. Besides learning to write together, the duo also took on a construction project.
“We wanted to have the freedom to work at our own pace and really find our sound, so we decided to build a studio in our Jackson Heights apartment,” Brendan said. “We soundproofed the closets, built a drum riser for the electric kit, took a week off from work and nailed it. It was challenging, but we made some great memories.”
From there, Ekra recorded and released their second record, “Men,” in 2012. With three songs, each clocking at over 10 minutes, the album pushed the band into progressive rock territory. After the two of them went further musically then they had before, Ekra’s third album, “Mouha,” went in the opposite direction, restraining their songs in a much more difficult process.
“If ‘Men’ was the equivalent to holding our breath, then ‘Mouha’ was supposed to be the release. Instead, we restricted ourselves and the process was much harder than we expected,” Brendan said. “It’s transitional, the album you need to make before you really find a new path. We wanted a short and sweet album, and somehow we ended up with our darkest.”
Brendan added that “Mouha,” which came out this year, is about Ekra’s home in Jackson Heights and the experiences he has had in Queens. One of the songs is even called “Queens Crawl,” with a reprisal further down the album as well.
“I’m proud to be from Queens,” Brendan said. “There are a lot of hard working people struggling to survive, but still manage to find the passion and light in life. I think more than anything that mentality permeates ‘Mouha.’”
Ekra shows no signs of slowing down. The duo is already five songs into its new album, which they plan to release as an ongoing series on singles. The band also started a blog called Kiss Them For Me, reviewing bands from or passing through New York. You can check out the blog at http://xthem4me.tumblr.com and visit Ekra’s website at www.ekrasound.com.
– Joe Marvilli