Producer and singer/ songwriter Estere Dalton, known simply as Estere, started producing six years ago when she was 20 years old and has since formed a genre which she dubs 'Electric blue Witch Hop'. She got into producing because her friends had MPCs, (Music Production Centres). She was drawn to the instrument and the canvas of sounds that you can create on the machine but at first she didn’t know how to use the instrument and it seemed like learning it would be a challenge, so she took a course at University and learnt how to play it.
"I’ve been really honing my craft, specifically on the MPC, but now I want to produce for other people but it takes a certain level of skill and I feel like you need to be quite fluent, and I feel like it has taken me this long to feel like I’m at that stage where I’m fluent at production and to the point where I can hear something and know what it is, or someone can be like ‘I want this’ and I know how to make it happen and also with my own equipment. I think it’s like anything you’re interested in, I just stuck to it and it became a thing.”
The content of her songs is so diversified and sometimes as she admits quite random, she has a song about whales, a song about a high-class prostitute who wants to become the president of the United States, and a song about jellyfish stings. "I find it an interesting process to observe and imagine things from the perspective of other people. I think everything I write has a certain direct affiliation to myself - but for me song writing isn't just about writing songs centred on a few specific things."
Estere performed in Maputo, at the Tennis Club in Johannesburg and LittleGig festival in Stellenbosch this past weekend. This is her second time performing in Southern Africa, prior to her first performance here she had never been in Africa, although her father is Cameroonian and her mother a New Zealander. She shares her thoughts on coming back, "coming back was really great since a lot of the places I visited felt familiar, a home away from home. For me it's special performing to African audiences because I see a part of myself mirrored back to me in the crowd, that I don't always see when I perform in other places."
Her second EP 'On Other's Lives', a follow up to her first EP 'My Design Part 1', is being released on April 27th. This is what she had to say about the project, "I got session musicians in on this album, so I just released a single called ‘Rent’ and it’s got session musicians, one is on xylophone and one is on electric guitar. My thing is, in the past I have been offered to work with producers, but because it’s a focus that I have to produce for myself or for other people, I really wanted to stick to making my own stuff and making it clear. When people listen to my music, they can hear when I started of as opposed to now, they can hear the development. I’m more confident that with this album more is going on production wise, it’s a little bit more complex and it’s quite dynamic, I feel like the songs are quite different from each other depending on which one you listen to.”
Estere's journey into making the music she is making today, was kind of by chance, "random" as she puts it. In high school she didnt imagine herself making music and when she started out, she had no idea her career would be where its at, now she wouldnt have it any other way. On her career beginnings; "I was in university and I had just recorded some songs with some low budget gear and put them online and that’s how it happened. The songs went online and this blog started firing it and then record labels, then I got asked to do live shows and I only had two songs. Then I was like ‘oh shit, I need more material’ so I created more material for the live shows and then I released more songs and the blogs talked about them more…"
She adds that the journey has been fulfilling, "It feels like I have been working towards something and what I’ve been working towards is coming into fruition. In terms of where I’d like to be, I just want to keep creating music that I’m proud of and performing it to audiences and hopefully those audiences get bigger…yeah, worldwide."
Photography: Aart Verrips
Styling: Don Zondo and Amy Zama (DNA Styling)
Stockists: Ona Mak, Maria Mcloy Shoes