21 year old Australian songwriter and artist E^ST (a.k.a Mel Bester) has always moved to the beat of her own drum. Maybe it’s because music has been the one constant in her life (she relocated to Australia from South Africa when she was a kid, moving house with her family close to 30 times). Or perhaps it’s something more innate that sets her apart from her peers: a natural curiosity teamed with a gift for expressing the conflicted emotions of youth in her own distinctive voice.
Bester’s prodigious talent was first picked up on six years ago when she sent an acoustic demo off to Swedish publishing and production powerhouse The Kennel. The hit makers were intrigued and invited this unknown teenager from the New South Wales Central Coast to Stockholm, twice, for month-long stints in the studio.
“The Swedes are pop machines, it’s impressive,” Bester says. “My style isn’t straight-up pop, but I learned how to structure a pop song, and to think about what I want to say and how to say it in a way that hasn’t been said before. They put a lot of faith in me. I grew in confidence.”
That pop aesthetic is a nice contrast to Bester’s nonconformist streak. Above the pop hooks and moody indie-electronica and her mastery of sad words and happy music, it’s Bester’s voice that arrests the attention. There’s a weightiness and resonance to it; a space in which pain can percolate.
“There were three artists that I listened to as a child: Barbra Streisand, Sting and Céline Dion,” she laughs. “I can hear them in my voice, but I also decided to go all natural. We’re so conditioned to singing in American accents, but I love the Aussie accent and its round vowels.”
Unbound by past experience and influence, E^ST is writing her own trajectory. On the one hand, she likes her live shows to be high-energy (“lots of dancing; I definitely love to groove”), on the other, well, an earlier folky phase means she has an appreciation for stripping things back and hearing a song in its purest form.
“I don’t talk about my emotions in person, but with my music I want to be as honest as I can so there’s something people can connect to”, she says. “It’s what drives me. Music makes every moment more magical”.
3 EP’s under her belt, E^ST most recently proved herself with global single ‘Life Goes On’ and bold empowerment anthem ‘Blowjob’.