Estere and The Beat.
Singer/songwriter and producer Estere (born Estere Dalton) grew up with a fondness of music, listening to her parents’ old cassettes and records in the beautiful city of Wellington (capital of New Zealand). It didn’t take long for the now Paris resident to grasp a love and appreciation for music, which later transmuted into an ability to write, perform and produce her own.
Having a Pākehā New Zealand mother, and a father of Cameroonian descent, her artistry is highly influenced by the uniqueness of her cultural background. Her eclectic style of music is matched by her energy in her build-a-set music videos with a vibrant personality that isn’t easily dimmed by her high-octane performance, dance routines and vivid sense of style. Armoured with her range of play of musical instruments, her penchant for electronic equipment like synthesisers, launchpads and her trusted sampler she stylises ‘Lola’, suggested her title genre as the self-proclaimed ‘Electric Blue Witch-Hop Producer’.
Her confidence and vitality is evident in her punchy beats with a work ethic that is visible through her art form. Hours before gracing the stage for her sold out London show, she with the ease of a professional artist (despite having just alighted a long haul flight from New Zealand) oozes energy by practicing her harmonies, amid getting changed for her photoshoot with us.
Here’s our tête-à-tête with Estere.
What kind of music were you surrounded by growing up in New Zealand?
At different stages in my life I’ve been surrounded by different styles of music - I went through a lot of stages. When I was little, the main music I remember were the Paul Simon and Grace Lands cassette tapes my mum would play in the car, and then once I got older I started to listen to Grace Jones, The Beatles, Sade, and a few reggae bands - a lot of throwback 70’s music but the music I listen to will forever be evolving as I grow.
How has this inspired your style?
I think I just pulled from forms of music that have inspired me in the present and the past, and because so much of what you listen to is what you’re exposed to, it’s interesting that the music that you listen to the most is normally created by someone that you feel related to the most and makes you feel a certain way, which then becomes your own subjective taste.
My music is always evolving, and there will always be different inspirations for different songs. It is hard to pinpoint every sound, person or place that has affected my music but as any creative will tell you, the art that you create is inspired by all your feelings and experiences.
When did you first start producing music?
I started producing 6 years ago when I started doing a sonic arts course at Wellington University. It’s just a paper but it seduced me to start using DAW systems to start mixing and just putting things together. I’ve used various different software but I primarily use Logic and I have been doing this in my bedroom for over 6 years now.
What message do you aim to spread with your music?
I think the main message I want to spread with my music is if you have an instinctual type of art, stick with the art that is coming from you naturally and do not be influenced by or submit to all the internal pressures that could crush you.
In one of my songs ‘Rent’, I speak about the idea that we all just make something like paying our own rent seem trivial but it is something hard to do and when you do it every one kind of reacts like ‘oh just move on that’s something that you’re supposed to do’ but we should own our accomplishments; I’m paying London rent at the moment and that’s fucking hard as a creative.
There’s been huge conversation surrounding the misrepresentation of female minorities in the music business – have you found it hard as a female producer with mixed heritage?
Um… (pauses) I really don’t know, because I started off producing and I’ve really been given a lot of opportunities and I’m just trying to get as good as I can and learn as much as I can without thinking of myself as just one of the best female producers but one the best producers, irrespective of my race and gender.
People obviously go through different things for different reasons, it could be your gender, your ethnicity, it could even be the shoes you have on but I don’t know exactly what has happened to me in my career because I am a female. I can’t identify with that so I can’t tell you if certain things have happened or not happened because I am a female.
It’s not like I don’t get it though, I can tell that other people have obviously picked up that they’re being thrown into certain situations because they’re viewed a certain way due to their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc, and I think it is completely fair enough to feel like that.
It is also extremely important that we do have these conversations and for people who aren’t aware to be exposed to it, otherwise things just won’t change.
I am aware of what’s going on around me but I’m just trying to do me.
Film & Photography: MUSA
Editor: Katherine Board
Interview by: Joseph Ntege