[INTERVIEW] More Sunrises With estef
When I meet Estef, she's wearing a surprising lack of purple. It's a cold night in Nashville and she's decked out in the jiggiest Sherpa coat I've ever seen, but I still can't get away from the fact that she's not wearing her signature color and that hear hair is much shorter than the last time I'd seen her. Purple become a part of her identity, as seen on her incredibly chopped and screwed Instagram feed. There's a specific type of wooze that comes with Estef's (stylized as estef) whole ethos: most of the thoughts in her songs are hazy scraps pieced back together, her graphics are bent and pinched and warped completely out of focus, her band is literally called The Hot Mess. However, when I sit down and talk with her, estef is anything but scattered. Her thoughts are concise and I can instantly tell that her appearance is chaos-by-design.
A self-proclaimed procrastinator, estef tells me that this song's timeline has been switched and reorganized and jumped so many times, mostly from her own intuition. Her single, "You Don't Get to Call Me", is an uppercut of a debut, but it would have probably never seen a release date if she let her old ways get in the way of her future success. She knows that these traits have been deemed negative in her past, but she's looking for the sunrises in each new opportunity. To her, the opposite of procrastination is seat-of-your-pants decision making, so now that has become the new norm. For the same reason that she chopped off a substantial amount of hair a few days prior, she knew that she had to turn her this waiting game into well-placed impulsiveness to finally pull the trigger on something that she should've done a long time ago.
"...Call Me" is a wonderful calling card for the new artist; it's strong and soft and allows her vintage influences to mesh with contemporary production. In true outsider fashion, estef has had a tricky time finding the right textures to score her stories, and she's slowly learning how to look back while pushing forward. She contributed to half of the songs on Pink Slip's stellar debut Pink Motel, and while her and Pink found incredible creative common ground, her original releases were always aiming for a sound that's more, in her terms, fluid. Her vibe is loose and relaxed and comfortable, so her original songs will always reflect a bit of that bounce. When I asked how recording "...Call Me" came to be, she "literally tracked the vocals on the couch in the control room", saying that her & producer Tony Esterly wanted to switch up the scenery, so "I ended up taking my shoes off and just started singing".
Estef's plight is common in the latest batch of creatives coming from the internet, these artists are all limitless in where they want to go. Estef doubles down on the idea of fluidity, stating that "I want my music to have all of those influences and still feel like me". She was raised on Latin music and soul and a whole gamut of progressives who saw genres as unnecessary boxes, and with "..Call Me" and her next run of releases, we will all start to learn how far her net can cast.
As we say our goodbyes, my biggest takeaway from our entire conversations is how small the differences can be in ones actions that can have the biggest impact. Estef went from someone who nit-picked details for months to now being someone with the courage to step forward and truly shoot her shot. I'm thankful that Estef is now looking to her own dark places to find her next sunrise.