I Had no idea what painting in London would be like, and I was given a chance to get a wall with EKTO, and it was well worth it. The guy is a wall killer, plus a good all around graft head. He’s on my radar for big things in the future and he should be on yours too!
Neighborhood Love: What neighborhood did you grow up in and what neighborhood do you represent now?
Ekto: I grew up on the outskirts of East London in a town called Dagenham. It was a pretty shitty estate but we was young and made our own fun, I still live in Dagenham, born and bred I’ve been here since day one.
NHLV: How did you get started doing Graff, and who would you say were your early influences?
Ekto: I started doing graff thru friends. I was last to start out of our group. There was ‘dose’ ‘inta’ ‘faze’ ‘lame’ ‘tobs/shiny’ (rip). They had all been doing it a while, so when i started i looked incredibly bad. While they had their handstyles on check, I was just figuring out how to hold a pen.
My influences were mostly local writers, and of course London’s DDS. I was into my dubs and tracks, so it’s natural to look up to them guys. No one’s done it as good as they did since, or ever will. An early influence of mine was ‘tel’ who later become ‘vainz’ of esk and then later awe crew. He was from my estate so all my pals latched on to him and learned a lot. He got up and crushed it locally. He was the guy for a bit. Before him was ‘binone.’ He was a bombers bomber. My later influences are simple, ‘shine’, ‘react’, ‘ster’, ‘brave1’, ‘stet,’- wildstyle painters and all rounders. Top writers who all crushed it at one point or another.
NHLV: So these days, the trends in graffiti have switched to basic or old school styles, with an emphasis on color. I consider you more of a wild style type. How do you feel you fit in to the graph seen these days?
Ekto: It seems graffiti is cyclic for most writers. I found myself stuck in a cycle of rinse wash rinse repeat, I wasn’t trying to push myself all the time. I am now. There are personal reasons for that but that’s a whole different story. Those that know- know. Nowadays I’m kinda breaking down my graffiti into 3 separate tiers: the wildstyles I save for events / big paint ups, the semi wild I keep for the average days painting, and the more styled letters for quick pieces or if I need to paint something faster than usual. I like painting all types of graff whether it’s a blockbuster a character or a wild mild or child ;). I’m not a one trick pony and people seem surprised when I drop something else, but hey- I’m that wildstyle guy! In answer to the question, I fit where I’m needed to fit. If I’m painting with writers that paint simpler styles with chunky shapes, I’ll do the same for the sake of the wall. Nothing better than a nice wall with styles that aren’t too different
NHLV: Graffiti’s growing worldwide these days. Can you tell us about some of the cities you’ve traveled to and painted and what are your favorites?
Ekto: I haven’t travelled as much as I should but for me Ireland is spot on. And if you’re looking for a place to go you won’t find a better bunch of people. No egos. Just real writers where the rules still apply. Cardiff in Wales is a hotshot too. Them guys burn!
NHLV: Do you think the city of London has had an effect on your graff or how your graff comes off?
Ekto: No. I predominantly ignore London and it’s styles. It’s got a great scene, the people are great and I love the writers, but it’s not my scene. I live on the border of Essex and East London. But I consider myself to be from Essex where everything is wildstyle. It’s what we do. London is very diverse for style. There is a lot of stencil and arty stuff that goes up. Not a lot of it is good and it dilutes the real graffiti styles.
NHLV: Can you tell me some of your favorite spots of London, like maybe food spots, drinking spots or even places to paint?
Ekto: If I hit London it’s normally Leake Street or a day out that has nothing to do with graff. I live so close, it’s a novelty you never use, if that makes sense. I’d sooner travel 500 miles to a different town as it’s not the ‘norm’
NHLV: As styles turn to old-school and basic, I noticed that your wild styles have gotten more complex. In fact, in my opinion, you’re one of the best wild style artist out there right now. Do you have any plans for your styling in your graffiti career?
Ekto: Thank you. But I feel I’m far far far from a word like ‘best.’ I know where I’m going it’s just taking a little while. I’m building up to it. I’m personally looking to pull off some of the wildest pieces ever painted but still keep it readable. That’s the trick. If the letters are too wild then it’s a mess. There’s a balance and it’s easy to overcook a piece. I’ve done it many times! Haha that’s the future. It’s wild. Really wild.
NHLV: Do you have any upcoming painting our projects that you’d like to put some shine on?
Ekto: That would be telling. There’s a video dropping in the United States for a paint company hopefully sometime soon but that’s all you’re getting 😉
NHLV: I definitely would like to see you out in the United States painting. Are there any cities that you would like to hit or people you’d like to paint with?
Ekto: I plan to hit the US at some point not sure when but it will happen. Maybe a few of us. Definitely swing out West and hook with the CBS guys, they are doing it, ‘saute’, ‘elser’, ‘apexer’, etc etc. And of course NYC, hit up some cool guys there. It’s on my list for sure! It will happen maybe next year.
NHLV: Thanks for everything. Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re looking really fresh. Last would you like to give me shout outs?
Ekto: Thank you bud ✌. Shouts to everyone I paint with and who have pushed me along the way. Especially the past two years, Kanz, and the 4D crew, ster, rask, react, and everyone along the way. Respect to all.