Brilliant new US star on how track relates to Rihanna's private life
Michael Baggs
16:31 7th January 2013

Hotly tipped singer/songwriter Mikky Ekko has revealed the story behind his Top Ten Rihanna duet 'Stay', claiming that the track he wrote relates to her personal life as much as it does to his.

Ekko is currently enjoying his first taste of chart success, having hit the UK charts alongside the Barbadian star on the track he wrote. However, he admits that he was initially 'freaked out' when he heard that she had recorded the track, because the track had such personal meanings to him.

"The track had become so special to me as well, and knowing what the track means to me and what I think it means to her too, it really worked," Ekko tells Gigwise. "It speaks to such an intimate side of her that is so rare and so far removed from what people think of her.

"I met up with some of her people in LA. She came out, we met, we hugged and talked for a minute about the song, she said 'oh, just so you know I've cut the vocal,' and I was like 'WHOA!' and of course I said 'that's no problem' - even though I was a little freaking out."

Watch Rihanna perform Mikky Ekko's 'Stay' below

Ekko, who is tipped as one of the big names of 2013 and has recently released his own track 'Pull Me Down', also reveals how working on a project such as Rihanna's Unapologetic album, was an eye-opener for a rising artist still working on his debut album.

"Their pace is insane," he adds. "They had the studios we were working in booked out for three months, on a cycle. There were people constantly coming in and out, in and out, and it was so crazy to be in that room and that headspace. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before."

He also reveals that working on such a project served as inspiration to push himself to hit similar a similar work ethic of the 'We Found Love' chart topper with his solo material.

"It had put a drive in me to really push myself to work harder," he continues. "I want to work harder than everyone else.

"There is a buddy of mine who is in the military and one of his commanding officers told him that you always act the job of the person ahead of you, so that if it is ever given to you, nobody ever questions it.

"I wanted to work harder than everyone, for things to do well and for no one to question how hard i'm working. It was cool to see that - and see what it really looks like when people are busting their asses off. It's amazing to see."

'Pull Me Down' is out now. Listen to the track below

Below: the 25 bands and artists you need to know in 2013

  • Peace: A Birmingham based four-piece that are gearing up for a huge 2013. Think Mystery Jets, but better and more likeable. Certain to be a hit at next summer's festivals and new single 'Wraith' could easily become an indie anthem of 2013.

  • Haim: Haim are something completely fresh and new. A trio of American women that make music that is difficult to pigeonhole. Nu-folk mixed with nineties R'n'B just doesn't seem to do the band justice. 2012 saw them being booked for huge support slots and deservedly nominated for the BBC's Sound of 2013 poll.

  • Mikky Ekko: Let's state the obvious: Mikky Echo features in 'Stay', the latest single by Rihanna, which will undoubtedly garner him a lot of attention. Now that's out the way we can focus on Mikky's solo work. A narcotic blend of effortlessly eerie and beautiful vocals with penetrating orchestral flairs that, with no hint of melodrama, peer right into your soul.

  • Icona Pop: Icona Pop are comprised of Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo and bring you electro pop: Swedish style. If you're wondering what that sounds like, imagine throbbing club beats except without the cheese of Cascada, and instead with more of a pop sheen. Songs like 'Ready For The Weekend' and 'I Love It' define the duo's aesthetic, and they're ready to restore pop back to its rightful place after signing a major label deal.

  • Burns: Michael J Burns looks set to rival Calvin Harris for the homegrown nu-disco title. Formerly a remix artist, Burns made his name by giving new life to the UK's biggest tracks. Now making beats of his own and having scored a hit with his single 'Lies', there is no stopping this Brighton boy from becoming one of the world's biggest producers.

  • Kodaline: Dublin exports that contain a similar melancholy in their music to early Coldplay. An easy going guitar band that have all the right ingredients to become pretty huge next year. Many peoples' first introduction to their folky melodies came after their video for tear-jerking track 'All I want' was shared widely online. The band have already been championed by BBC Radio 1's Fearne Cotton and tipped by MTV as ones to watch in 2013.

  • Le1f: Taking on rap taboos and tearing them apart is New York's latest export, Khalif Diouf, or Le1f. Claiming LGBT sub-culture amongst what has influenced his music, Le1f is clearly not your run of the mill rapper. This is confirmed in his music, with dark electronic beats that creep under his clever and provocative slurs.

  • Chet Faker: An Australian singer/songwriter on the verge of breaking into the international mainstream. A spine-tinglingly, smoky vocal that makes you scrunch up your face and nod your head uncontrollably. Faker makes raw and real music that is simply stunning at times. So much talent deserves to get some international recognition in 2013.

  • Swiss Lips: Dance-pop enthusiasts that are bringing us a fresh dose of New Order based Balearic beats. Full of those hooks that get bands like this off the ground, tracks like 'Danz' make you want to hear what else the five-piece have to offer. Set to release their debut album in January 2013, Swiss Lips will be one of Manchester's biggest exports next year.

  • Lord Huron: Stepping lightly in the footsteps of Mumford & Sons, Of Monsters & Men and The Lumineers, Lord Huron specialises in downtempo indie-folk that warms the soul and stirs the heart. One for those of us with a soft spot and the old romantics. Stunning stuff.

  • Tom Odell: Another young male singer/songwriter that the UK will no-doubt take straight to their hearts. The piano is his instrument of choice, which makes a change from the Ed Sheeran and Ben Howard's out there. Extremely talented and seemingly built to fly straight into the mainstream next year.

  • Angel Haze: American rapper and lyricist, Angel Haze would give Busta Rhymes a run for his money in a fast-paced rap battle. Haze makes impulsive hip-hop that will be all over the charts next year. She seems to have snatched Azealia Banks' title as new kid on the hip-hop block could well be the face of female rap in 2013.

  • The Neighbourhood: Blessed with a fantastic lead vocalist The Neighbourhood's dark, sinister vibe will see this band California group get very far in 2013. They are making a brand of music that will sit nicely in the mainstream between Maroon 5 and Radiohead.

  • A*M*E: Who wants to hear an electro-pop track that references old school game consoles? Us too. A*M*E's 'Play The Game Boy' is one hell of a funky track and wouldn't be out of place in the world of Mario or Sonic. The 18-year-old has a huge future if she carries on in this form. She can sing, rap and most importantly knows how to craft perfect pop tunes.

  • Shields: Making huge waves in the UK and overseas, Shields have made short work of becoming the North-East's biggest band of the moment. Their alternative take on beat-driven pop is full of energy and will find it's way onto lots of 2013 playlists.

  • Seasfire: Described as everything from 'dubstep Coldplay' to 'melancholic' and 'hypnotic', Seasfire are a band that nobody can quite put their finger on. Electro music is often alienating - an indigestible clump of sound, but the Bristol four-piece resolve this. Their songs are a wrestle between anthemic revellry and introverted confession, with neither side ever winning.

  • Cvrches: A scottish electronic act that make captivating music. Their single 'Mother We Share' ranges from sad to euphoric all in three minutes and epitomises why the group are hotly tipped to take the mainstream by storm in 2013.

  • Splashh: Australian bred four-piece, Splashh will send you back to the electric buzz and fuzziness of the early nineties if you let them. Listening to their music is like riding a nostalgic wave of sound that you can tell derives from their roots from down under.

  • Laura Mvula: A few months ago, Laura Mvula was a receptionist, but a whirlwind 2012 has seen her collect recognition from the likes of Emeli Sande and Jamie Cullum. Nominated for the Brits Critics Choice Awards 2013, Laura's stunning vocals have seen her compared to Adele and Emeli Sande. 2012 was a good year for strong female vocalists and 2013 will be the same if Laura has anything to do with it.

  • AlunaGeorge: An electronic duo from London, Aluna Francis and George Reid are undoubtedly one of the coolest acts to emerge from 2012. AlunaGeorge are set for a massive 2013, thanks to their no-nonsense r&b sound that spits in the eye of the likes of Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown and other artists who have dragged the genre through the mud. The saviour of their scene.

  • San Cisco: Further proof that the indie-pop scene is thriving down under. San Cisco are an Australian group that have been slowly making a breakthrough in the UK this this year. Incredibly catchy tracks such as 'Awkward' and 'Rocket Ship' will be a crowd-pleasers at any festival next year. Let’s hope they make the trip across the pond.

  • The 1975: Keeping brit-pop alive with their good looks and catchy tunes. These lads will have hoards of indie-kids following everywhere, with the near-perfact sounds of tracks such as 'Sex' and the epic 'You'. Proof, if any was needed, that guitar bands are back in a big way in 2013.

  • Flume: The most exciting name in electrionic music in 2013 is Flume, who releases his stunning debut album early in the year - and is sure to be heard for the 12 months that follow. Glitchy, lo-fi and packed with r&b sass, tracks such as 'Sleepless', 'Insane', 'Left Alone' and 'On Top' should already be on your playlists. Awesome stuff.

  • The Other Tribe: Bristol boys that will make you go mental in a muddy field if you are lucky enough to catch them at any festivals next year. Everybody loves a bit of big beat infectiousness, which these lads offer up in droves with singles 'Skirts' and 'Sing With Your Feet'. A huge festival success in 2012 and only set to get bigger and better next year.

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Photo: Sandy Kim