EKKSTACY is among a crop of young artists driving the ongoing punk revival. He is unique in the crowd for the version of punk history he tells. Stripped of pop-punk hooks and bright, crispy guitars, EKKSTACY leans toward the darkest corners of the genre. His sound follows from the rawest elements of early ’80s punk, the spirit of Joy Division shining through. It’s a fitting sound for the rising artist, who uses music to fend off nihilism and call for love in what can often feel like a heartless world.

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You dropped your EP NEGATIVE in 2021. That seems to have generated positive attention.

I’m surprised how much people like that album. I sat on that album for like a year. Most of the songs are already out there. The songs that were new, I was also sitting on those for a really long time. I thought people [were] going to think it was bad, but people loved it.

Are you thinking beyond this project or just riding the wave?

I’m working on another album right now. It’s better. 

Better in what way?

Probably just because it’s new and exciting. I don’t know. I just switched the sound a little bit. It’s more sad, but still fast. It’s not slow shit.

Sadder in what way? The lyrics?

It’s more the instrumentals. The lyrics have always been kind of sad. It was instrumentals that weren’t before. Now everything’s just sad. 

I was going to say, I feel like the lyrics are already pretty dark. In terms of instrumentals, are you doing anything specific?

I just told my producers to do different stuff. I just made a song by myself yesterday. I produced it, played the guitar and shit. I’m playing acoustic. I broke my electric. I smashed it. I don’t even know why. It wasn’t even a good guitar, wasn’t even worth smashing. It just cracked and just doesn’t work now.

So is this your unplugged phase? 

The electric I had was so bad. It’s small. I mean, you can make anything sound good, but I’m just not good enough to make that sound good. But I can make the acoustic sound really good. 

Are you thinking beyond that, the big picture? What happens after that project, the future, that sort of thing?

Plans for the future? I mean, I’m moving to L.A. in a month. Musically, I just go day by day. I’m really fickle. With music, I can’t ever decide. I change my mind way too quickly with what I want to do. And that’s usually why I end up not liking albums that I do. By the time I’m done [with] the album, I’m already trying to do something else, but I can’t. Having plans for music is pointless for me because I change my mind.

How about for your life then? What does 2022 look like?

In the new year, I hope I’m alive. I hope I have a lot of money, but I don’t know. That’s all I can say. I don’t really know. I’ve never been one for goals or anything. I just go day by day, honestly. Goals are good to have, but I never stick to them. 

Was 2021 at least a good year for you?

I feel like I had a good year. [2021] was the best year of my life yet. I mean, music-wise, maybe not life-wise. Actually, probably life-wise, too. Honestly, it was really fun. This was a good year. [2022] is going to be better.

I saw you were on tour recently. What was that like?

I have really bad stage anxiety before I get onstage. It was hell, but it was also really fun. The days I had off or when I just finished the show. I like performing. When the crowd likes me, it’s amazing. But it was really stressful, to be honest. I was really tired. I was drinking a lot every day, and I just felt like shit. But it was also really fun. I’m glad I don’t have to do it for a while.

If the tour was, say, a month or two months long, oh man. Like a world tour, bro, I can’t even imagine what that is like. At the same time, you don’t have to worry when you’re big, and you know people are going to show up, and they’re going to love you. I’m like, first show for every city in Europe that I went to, “Are people going to come?” That was another factor to make it even more scary. But it was tight. The show in Paris was fucked. There was way more people than there are supposed to be in that room. All the shows were all right. Paris is my favorite because there was so many people, and there’s crazy videos of it on YouTube.

Did you get a good response there?

Yeah! I mean, there’s one dude in Paris that said I was shit. He booed me. One dude. But it was so weird because there’s mosh pits, and there’s like 300 people in there, and it’s crazy. And this one fucking dude was like, “Fuck you.” I was like, “All right. Fuck you.” But every time I got offstage, everyone was super pumped and taking photos and shit. It was tight.

One other thing I’ve been curious about is that you have the word “LOVE” tattooed in Russian. What’s the story there?

I got it in Russian because of a girl. Not because I was with her or anything, just because she inspired me to do it in Russian. I feel like love is probably the most important thing to me in life. I mean, romantic love. I don’t mean the other types. It’s the most important thing to me in life, more than money and more than anything. It’s the thing I crave the most. So I put it on my body to attract it. But it hasn’t worked yet.

Why do you crave love that much? I also notice it’s a really pronounced theme in your music.

I’ve had trouble with it so far. But I’m young. Whatever.

This interview first appeared in issue #402 (22 for ’22), available here.