Why indie-pop star E^ast stopped taking singing lessons

by India Hendrikse / 07 December, 2017

E^ST is best

Aussie indie-pop artist E^ST is just 19 but already amassing a following

If you’ve heard Mel Bester, aka E^ST, belt out a mesmerising combo of The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ and Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ for Aussie radio station Triple J’s Like a Version segment, you’ll understand why this New South Wales indie-pop singer is one to watch. We sat down with the 19-year-old artist to speak about her string of EPs, her voice, and what inspires her.

India Hendrikse: What have you been working on lately?
MEL BESTER: I’ve been working on lots of music. I released my latest single, ‘Life Goes On’, and two days later I was like, “Okay, I need to write more,” so just lots of songwriting.

I find it interesting that the lyrics in your songs can be quite dark and emotive, but the beat is upbeat and poppy – how do you make sure you maintain that balance?   
I think it just comes naturally to me – I’ve always been drawn to that kind of music and I think my roots are sown in folk music. I feel that folk does that often – it has those really sad and intense lyrics but then these really light-hearted melodies.

And who are some of the folk artists you love to listen to?
Joni Mitchell is a huge inspiration of mine, she is one of the best song writers of all time. Bright Eyes is another really big band in my life; Conor Oberst is amazing.

And other musicians you’ve been inspired by?
I listen to a lot of hip-hop, so Frank Ocean has been super-inspirational. All the Brockhampton kids – Kevin Abstract especially, I’ve been loving his music.

Since a young age, you’ve had a very developed vocal range. How did you learn those techniques?
I’ve had a few bouts of vocal lessons here and there, but I never really wanted to delve too deeply into that because I want to keep that sort of rawness. So I got it to the point where I knew how to use my voice and take care of it, but not so much that I couldn’t express emotions anymore, you know.

And as an artist within the indie genre, do you have a fear of becoming over-manufactured eventually?
I guess that’s definitely on a lot of artists’ minds, you always want to stay genuine. For me, it’s almost like I have no choice, like my songwriting is my outlet. It’s really the place where I express my emotions the most and if I didn’t have that then I’d probably just implode, so for me it’s like I have to do it, so I’m not too scared of losing that.

I’ve read as well that you don’t like to talk about your emotions in person, but you like to incorporate them into your music. So is music a sort of therapy in a sense?
Yeah exactly, on display for everyone to look into if they want to. I’ve found it’s just good to get it out and then it’s there and you can reflect on it if you want to, just putting it into words can be really helpful.

And do you feel kind of shy with people hearing your music or hearing your deepest secrets?
Some songs, the more brutally honest songs, can be a little uncomfortable to play to people, but I feel like the connections other people then have with those lyrics outweigh the discomfort.

Do you feel like you’ve cemented your own style or are you still playing with it?
I feel like it’s fluid. I try not to close my mind and be like, “Okay yup this is me, this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.” I just try and take every song as it comes because they’re sort of like beings of their own and you have to treat them individually I guess.

You’ve released a really great string of EPs. Do you have an album coming out in the near future?
Yeah, I’m definitely working towards an album. You have to take it step by step in the music industry. You absolutely never know what tomorrow’s going to look like, but I would love to put out an album.

 

E^ST will play alongside Thomston,  Yukon Era and more at Galatos, Tue 19 Dec.

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