ECCO2K AKA Zak Arogundade in conversation with Re-Edition Magazine


Zak Arogundade is the multidisciplinary artist behind Ecco2k, best known for his enigmatic style and ability to cross multiple genres and media with shocking flexibility. A member of Stock- holm’s Drain Gang, his projects include 2022’s Crest album (with Bladee and Whitearmor), 2021’s PXE EP, and 2019’s E album, among many others. He sat down with writer Emily Segal to discuss how his childhood preoccupations influence his present, the nature of consciousness, the emotions behind theoretical mathematics, his approach to novelty, and the Vedic quote that best describes his approach to the supernatural.

Emily: What were you like as a kid?

Zak: I spent most of my time with my mom. She’s a makeup artist, and I think I’m a lot like her. She’s really sensitive, and she’s present and emotionally intelligent. I feel like it’s better if you ask her, maybe. "In a delightful voice memo, Zak’s mom described him as “Happy, sensitive, and always hungry. The food could never get on the table fast enough. He loved being around people and he loved animals...Because of his stubbornness, he never gave up.”

Emily: What was the first instrument for you and what was the first band called?

Zak: First instrument was guitar, and the band was called Krossad, which is crushed in Swedish. It started when I was about twelve. I think people thought we were cute. But children are pretty well-suited for that style of music, because you just express yourself in a direct way. It’s just very raw, so I think yeah, kids are good at that. It’s not a lot of pretense.

Ecco2K in Re-Edition Magazine - Photography by Hendrik Schneider

Emily: Right now, you’re in the middle of a snowboarding trip. What’s your relationship like with nature?

Zak: I spent a lot of time outside when I was young with my mom. It feels good to be in nature. I mean, that’s one part of why I love snowboarding a lot. Because you spend a lot of time in this really inhospitable environment where you feel like humans aren’t really supposed to be. A place like this will kill you pretty quickly, and it’s so beautiful at the same time.

I think the sense of insignificance that you feel when you really understand how beautiful these things are, regardless if anyone is there to observe them or not, is really crazy. I never get used to that kind of feeling, especially regarding nature, or solar-system stuff, or the universe, or whatever. As humans, we were never supposed to see any of this stuff or to perceive any of this stuff. And it’s been there, and it’s going to be there before and after we’ve all died or whatever. And if it’s not meant to be perceived, then why is it so beautiful? That’s what I think is really cool about nature. It has nothing to do with us really, we just happen to be lucky enough to be able to observe it.

I really want to understand the natural world in part for what it can imply about some broader existential context. For example, I had this period a while ago when I was really, really into theoretical math stuff. And I’m not naturally talented at math. I don’t intuitively understand a lot of this stuff. But the existential or philosophical implications of all of this theory just made me really, really emotional, even though I didn’t understand everything.

Ecco2K in Re-Edition Magazine - Photography by Hendrik Schneider

Emily: Emotional in what way? Excited, lonely, exhilarated?

Zak: It’s exciting, but it’s also... It’s a hard feeling to describe verbally, but it’s similar to what I mentioned before about how a lot of the natural order of things is not necessarily even meant to be perceived, but it’s still, it just is. And that’s what made me feel so emotional about even this theoretical math stuff like chaos theory or fractals or whatever, this kind of stuff. Because yes, why is it so elegant? And it just is.

And that’s what’s cool about theoretical math stuff as well, since it’s so divorced from the normal application of math stuff, it’s not actually a human invention or a human concept. It’s something that is discovered the same way that you would discover a moon or a planet or something. But why is it so elegant then? Why is it like this? It was explained to me that in order for us to perceive a harmonic relationship or a mathematically elegant set of frequencies or whatever, you need to make some really intense calculations in your brain. But obviously, that’s not something that happens consciously.

So why are we wired to do that? And yeah. Nobody knows.

Emily: It’s the same with language too. When you try and learn a new language and it’s so hard, it emphasizes how crazy it is that you’re capable of making these fluid, spontaneous responses in languages that you do know.

Zak: This feels even crazier because nobody ever learns to perceive this stuff. It’s just encoded in everyone. And I can’t think of a good reason for that to be selected for in nature.

Emily: Do you have any particular topics that you’re most curious about at the moment?

Zak: I feel like one thing that I’m always really curious about is consciousness. It’s the most ubiquitous thing because it’s all that we will ever have, and it’s all that we’ll ever know. It’s so fundamental, but at the same time, it’s such a mystery, and it’s such a miracle at the same time. The most fundamental phenomenon at the core of everything that we will ever experience is this thing that nobody understands. And the fact that we are capable of perceiving our own consciousness, it also feels like this insane gift or a miracle.

Ecco2K in Re-Edition Magazine - Photography by Hendrik Schneider

Emily: Would you consider yourself an animist, someone who believes that there’s consciousness in everything?

Zak: Yes, but I don’t think there’s an individual sense of personhood in every inanimate object. I think it’s a little narcissistic to project your own experience upon something that has really nothing to do with you. But I do believe that there is a consciousness in everything, but I think it’s different from our sense of personhood.

Emily: So it’s not like Beauty and the Beast, where there’s a fork singing, with a little personality.

Zak: I mean I think that’s a really appealing thought. I have early memories of seeing things in that way. I always imagined that every single inanimate object was sentient when I was a kid. But I also really strongly believe that that is more of a me thing and it doesn’t say much about the object itself. I really think about it, I don’t think a rock is conscious in any way that is similar to me. But my intuition says that it’s something a bit more grand.

Emily: Do you believe in or practice magic?

Zak: Magic has a very specific set of connotations attached to it. I do believe in a higher type of consciousness, or a consciousness that is beyond personhood. And I guess also some form of supernature, but not necessarily the universe bending to your will or whatever. I don’t think that’s how it works.

Ecco2K in Re-Edition Magazine - Photography by Hendrik Schneider

Emily: How does it work, then?

Zak: Well, nobody knows. That’s the whole point, right? I have a hard time with supernatural concepts or ideas that are too centered around human concepts of what’s good, or what’s bad, or what we want, or what we don’t want, or stuff like this. So the kind of supernature that is more interesting to me is something that isn’t very concerned with what we care about or the way that we see things.

Though I don’t believe that the universe directly bends to your will, I do strongly believe in the influence that your inner world has on your awareness and the influence that your awareness has on your actions and the influence that your actions has on the rest of the universe, which is paraphrased from this quote I read in The Upanishads, “ As is your desire, so is your intention. As is your intention, so is your will. As is your will, so is your deed. As is your deed, so is your destiny.”  Which also sounds a little bit like chaos magic.

Ecco2K in Re-Edition Magazine - Photography by Hendrik Schneider

Emily: Your music has an energetic effect on people. Do you feel like you can take some of that sense of your intention or your inner energy and put it out into the world through music?

Zak: Yeah. I definitely hope that it does. For a really long time, since I was really young, I was experimenting with different contexts, to use all of the mediums that I was working with to make a bigger narrative. Having a brand, making clothes, was one of the early ones. That was fun because I got to do graphic design, industrial design, photography, video, whatever. You can make something that’s bigger than the sum of its parts and make a big, big thing.

And I think music or having an artist project is such a cool context because you can make something even bigger with that. Since music is something that you don’t need much context to appreciate, it’s just something that’s perceived in a more direct way. With all the combined expression, I think you can make a pretty powerful statement that is hard to express in any other way. I like to think that if what I wanted to get across was possible for me to verbalize in a simpler or more direct way, then I would be an academic or I would have a TED talk, but I’m not, so this is the best way that I can convey this stuff.

Ecco2K in Re-Edition Magazine - Photography by Hendrik Schneider

Emily: Do  you have a ritual or pattern for yourself when you’re starting a new project?

Zak: I think it would ruin the fun for me if I did. I think I have made good stuff in every single possible way and you never know which one it’s going to be when you start something new. So sometimes doing it a certain way works and sometimes it doesn’t. You just have to start over every time and explore. And that’s why it’s fun.

I like to be indirect and come up with symbols to represent my ideas so that they can be played around with – compressing and rearranging the information basically, because just talking about it plainly is no fun.

Ecco2K in Re-Edition Magazine - Photography by Hendrik Schneider

Emily: Do you ever get sick of traveling?

Zak: It’s like an adventure, that’s how I see it. I’ve had an incredibly turbulent few months. I don’t know, I think even if you might not enjoy every moment of it, I think it’s still good in the end. I think especially the stuff that you might not particularly enjoy, it’s all going to make you a better person. But yeah, a lot of traveling and a lot of stuff is going on at the same time: I’ve cried so much, and laughed so much, and lost a lot of stuff that was really important. And then gained a bunch of other stuff that feels really significant as well.

It’s just that period of my life, where you just have to embrace what’s happening. I’m happy that I can travel and that that’s a part of what I do, to move around. I remember when I was quite young, and there was a lot of stuff that I couldn’t do. And I was thinking like, “Oh, what would the ideal situation be just for how I would live? What would it look like if I could decide?” And I remember thinking, “It would be really cool if I could just spend some time here, and spend some time there, and just move around.” Just like when you’re out on a walk by yourself and you look around and see what looks the most interesting, and then you just go that way.

I was thinking about how cool it would be to be able to live like that all the time. And then I realized a few weeks ago: “Wait, isn’t that happening right now?” So I’m not complaining. I mean yeah, you get tired, but at the same time, I also haven’t forgotten working a nine-to-five, and could never really get used to that. I’m never, ever going to complain about what I do as an artist being too hard.

Ecco2K in Re-Edition Magazine - Photography by Hendrik Schneider

Emily: I think that every creative, ambitious person comes to a certain juncture, where you start to wear yourself out and then have to learn how to sustain your energy. And it’s a super-important part of the process.

Zak: At a certain point, you have to also accept that a big part of your job is to understand what you need to be able to keep feeling inspired, or to keep having fun. Or to come up with good ideas, for when you need to come up with good ideas. And I think it’s interesting, because it’s a really big part of your job, but it’s also something that nobody can really teach you how to do. It’s something that you have to discover for yourself, and how to stay present, and how to express yourself, or how to whatever. All of the stuff that’s indirectly a big part of the job that’s not about sitting at the computer. The idea of productivity that you grew up with doesn’t really apply to this kind of work.

I feel like a big part of my job is to witness a lot of this stuff that we’ve talked about that can’t really be explained or understood and express it, so that it can be understood in a different way – which is not a very straightforward task and that’s why it’s so exciting. You have to figure it out for yourself. That’s what the adventure is all about.

Ecco2K in Re-Edition Magazine - Photography by Hendrik Schneider

Team Credits: 












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