EKO Band Echoes Music, Friendship,
Ayden P., '22 (left), & Sophia C., ’22 (right).
By Gracie S.
April 23, 2019
On a rainy afternoon inside a packed Altadena coffee house, people sit at small tables drinking coffee or stand propped against the back wall. They have eagerly gathered to watch singer-songwriters and best friends, Sophia C., ’22, and Ayden P., ’22, members of the band EKO, begin their performance. Once the music starts, conversation stops as everyone realizes they are listening to something special.
Sophia and Ayden have been waiting to perform their own music live since the age of nine. With three songs already completed, Apology, Wildfire, and Constellations, the dynamic duo’s dreams are fast becoming a reality. Live performances are the climax. Finding a producer is the nadir. A family friend in the music business helped them find one, but it took months. Once they had a producer, they recorded one of their songs with real equipment in a real studio.
“We went into the recording studio to record three of our songs: Apology, Wildfire, and Constellations,” said Sophia. “Those were the first three songs we had ever recorded together. It was such a surreal experience because as a 13-year old to be in the business is like, ‘wow it’s so much more than you think it is.’ A lot goes into recording a song. It took three months to actually get a final version, five or more times visiting the studio.”
“Hearing our songs is crazy,” added Ayden. “We plugged our phones into the car to hear our recorded songs, and we heard the final versions of our songs on the car speakers, and seeing our name EKO on the car’s screen was amazing. We were like, ‘oh my God, oh my God.’ It is like we are actually hearing our songs on the radio.”
On that rainy day in Altadena, following their live debut, Sophia and Ayden sit on the stage smiling. Sophia looks at Ayden as if they had just climbed a mountain, finished a marathon, won a Grammy.
“To be honest, I was really nervous to perform because it was a room of about forty people comprised of friends and family but those are your best critics,” said Ayden. “I remember my voice shaking when I started singing because the song was for my friends who were right in front of me and they’d never really heard me sing. Performing for me is surreal in general because I get this feeling, not to be cliché, but that anything is possible and that I could actually do this if I work hard enough.”
“When I perform, I completely forget people are watching me,” said Sophia. “It also helps that the light blinds you from seeing them. It’s an amazing feeling because my body just relaxes, and I don’t think about anything else. The adrenaline rush after getting off stage and greeting the audience is also an amazing feeling.”
Inspired by artists such as Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Ruel, Lennon Stella, and Conan Gray, EKO writes songs in acoustic pop but are looking to expand their genres of music. Sometimes they choose to split verses when songwriting so that their individual voices and thoughts are both represented in the song. Their first song ever written, Apology, focuses on owning up to your mistakes without being afraid.
Songwriting can pose unique challenges. They were both twelve years old and in the sixth grade when they first wrote Apology. Second-guessing or overthinking lyrics was just par for the course. Eventually, Sophia and Ayden chose to split up the song evenly. Each wrote parts on their own and then came back together to see how it sounded. “The song is about coming back to fix your self-inflicted problems and owning up to the mistakes,” Ayden explained. “If you really care about something, you have to be willing to fight for it.”
Other times, songwriting comes more naturally. EKO’s second song, Wildfire, was composed easily during an eighth Westridge retreat. Wildfire was one of Ayden’s favorite songs to write. “We were on a camping trip together in El Capitan, and we were sitting on this giant rock with Sophia’s guitar and the sun was setting. The hills were really dry like they’d been burnt and the sky was a hazy orange. We were outside on our own, there’s where the rebellious side of the song comes from, and literally, in five minutes, we had two verses. We kept on coming up with these ideas of jumping into something without considering the consequences. I don’t know if we ever decided the meaning, but I’m pretty sure it’s about basic, like I said, like a YOLO vibe where you just live like you want to live but don’t look back on the consequences.”
“For Wildfire, we wrote everything except for the chorus and didn’t even want a bridge until we got into the studio in like 20 minutes,” Sophia said. “And then when we got home, the chorus came almost immediately. Same with the bridge. I was in the car with my dad coming back from the studio and I just sang it randomly, and it stuck. Basically, Wildfire was really fun to write and came really easily.”
Constellations, their third song, is an acoustic pop piece inspired by their belief in enduring friendship. Written during the summer after eighth grade, the song became a siren call to friends who had moved on or spent their summers apart. “I was naive to think we’d all be friends for life, but now I remember it as a kind of pure hope and positivity,” said Ayden.
Both Ayden and Sophia grew up with strong musical influences and inspirations. Ayden was just six years old when she began plucking the strings of her mini guitar and jamming out to Miley Cyrus. Sophia’s heard her dad’s singing and knew she wanted to be like him someday.
EKO wants to be the Taylor Swift they looked up to for other young girls, aspiring songwriters waiting to get up on their own stages. They’ve certainly come a long way from those two nine-year-old girls screaming in the back of a Taylor Swift concert. Now a two-women band recording and releasing songs, Sophia and Ayden’s childhood dreams of writing and performing songs are coming true.