Australian artist Esmé unveiled her new single “Ella” on August 9th.
Written by Esmé and produced by Royce Wood Junior (NAO, Jamie Woon), Twilite Tone (Kanye West, Gorillaz) and Chris Penny, the new single offers a captivating sound fusing soul and electro.
“Ella” is the first single off her upcoming EP to be released at the end of the year.
“I wanted to release Ella first because it's one of the softer songs in this project, it kind of acts like a bridge between my first song 'Come With Me' and my newer music. Releasing Ella was about creating the story to come: it's not a hit, it's not about numbers or streams… it's just to lay the sound out for the rest of the project,” explains Esmé.
“Ella” is now available worldwide.
Introduce yourself - where are you from?
My name is Erin Badman but I write and release music under my alias Esmé. I grew up in a small town called Tumbarumba in the snowy mountain region of Australia, but I now live in Sydney.
What's your story?
I'm from a family of 8, I have six sisters and one brother and was home schooled for most of my childhood. I've always been drawn to music, art and poetry, but I really discovered my passion for music at about age 16.
When did you start writing songs? What made you want to write songs in the first place?
I started writing songs in 2015. It was very much in the Jazz realm with double bass, guitar and drums. I was heavily influenced by an artist called Gretchen Parlato. She is what kind of first inspired me to write my own music. I think it was the craving to tell my own story lyrically that really got me writing.
Could you tell us about your first experience in the music industry? What lessons did you learn since then?
I think my first proper experience would have been when I self released my first song Come With Me. I learned that it was important to know my sound without comparing it to others, and I realised how much emotional strength you need to have to connect to listeners and the industry with honesty.
How did your sound and artistry evolve since your first release?
It changed quite a bit! Releasing music made me more curious about production and the sound of my era. I think I had started to find an identity as a jazz singer and I knew my strengths in that style and that I could stay there forever. I had to let that go to make something new and I had to let my feelings drive the songs, not the chords or melodies, which is what jazz had become about for me, which really, misses the point of jazz!
How did things change for you since your first release?
I'm not sure that much has changed for me yet. I hope that people are starting to notice what I'm making and accepting it, but most of the changes have been within really. Like, I feel like I can really do this now, release music and share that part of myself. I feel like even though it's small, I do have a small organic audience of my own that's growing. That's exciting!
What made you want to move to Sydney?
I moved to Sydney at 18 to try and find musicians. I had been living above an old pub since I was 16 in a country town called Maryborough, that's where I finished growing up. I worked downstairs as a bartender/waitress. The owner was a jazz pianist, he let me swap some shifts sometimes to sing with him instead. It was the only thing I thought about all week. It set my heart on fire!! I moved to Sydney to find more people my age that made music.
How does Sydney help shape your creativity?
Well, It can be quite hard to find your place as an artist here. I’ve spent a lot of energy finding creative direction outside of Sydney, but I am definitely inspired creatively by the artists here and the beautiful Australian landscapes.
How would you describe Esmé, the artist?
I think Esmé is a bit elusive to be honest: I am shy and pretty quiet unless I really know you. But I definitely come alive when I'm performing. I think as an artist, I crave connection, I want to make people feel something with my music, I want to be brave enough to write about things that make people think or feel something and then talk about that with them, whether it's through social media or after a show.
"Ella" is your new single. What's the story behind this song?
Ella was never intended to be released. It was just a voice memo on my iphone. The producers I was working with in Brooklyn really liked the feel of it and wanted to work on it, so we did! It's really about music changing and shifting your moods.
You worked with Royce Wood Junior, Twilite Tone and Chris Penny on this song. Could you describe us the songwriting/production process? How was it like to work with them?
Well, most of the songs were written prior to Brooklyn. But each producer brought something special. Tone really directed me vocally in the studio, which was amazing. He just really knows how to make the voice tell a story. Royce is a creative powerhouse, he brings the quirk and personality, like the bridge section in Ella for example. Chris is all the energy, the heaviness in the beats and the clever arrangements of the songs. Everyone had something special.
What made you want to release "Ella" as a single?
I wanted to release Ella first because it's one of the softer songs in this project, it kind of acts like a bridge between my first song 'Come With Me' and my newer music. Releasing Ella was about creating the story to come: it's not a hit, it's not about numbers or streams… it's just to lay the sound out for the rest of the project. I'm really in love with this song though.
What is your goal for this single?
I have pretty humble goals for this song. I just wanted to give it to my listeners in a way, just as a little bit of a taste for what's to come and a transition from mostly acoustic to produced.
What can you tell us about your upcoming EP?
It's largely defined by intimate electro sounds, honey sweet vocals, male dominant vocal harmonies, heavy beats and dark electro pop touches with very personal lyrics!! It's not a collection of singles, it's one whole project. I can't wait!!
What appeals you the most about being an artist?
That you get to express so much of what you go through, your experiences in life, lessons and also heartache through your music, and you can use that for the benefit of others. It's very fulfilling.
If you could change one thing in the music industry, what would it be?
I would change how women are often treated in creative and business environments. I think there is still a lot of inequality in the music industry for women. Women still often feel objectified or under-qualified, even when they are wildly talented. I think women are often undermined in their musical opinion and ideas and their skills are doubted just because of their feminine qualities - like kindness, quietness, ability to listen, openness and adaptability, are often regarded as weakness, when they are in fact great strengths that I think many male musicians, managers and producers could try to adopt, rather than women being told they need to change their attitudes. Sure we all can change, and we all should try, but it seems a little uneven to me.
Do you remember a specific time in your life where music made a huge difference?
I have been lucky enough I think to see music be incredibly healing in times of trauma or grief - I experienced this with my father when he died in 2014. My sisters and I were singing to him, I think it brought him a lot of peace.
What does singing make you feel?
Singing makes me feel elated!! High and light, happy and like I'm fulfilling my purpose. Only good things!
In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?
So hard, because there are so many things, but I believe in ripple effects. We want to change the world, but we should first change ourselves, how we treat others, the environment, how we consume and take great care of what we think, say and believe. I think if you can't change the world, start by changing yourself and hope it will influence your circle. I have so much work to do on myself that being said!!
What biggest life lessons have you learned so far?
Here's a few!! That my perception of others is not who they are at all - no matter how right you're certain you are, you could always be wrong!! You absolutely have to let go of things you can't change and if you like or love someone… tell them!!
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