Independent Artist of the Week: Ugly Esther

July 10th 2024

  • Ugly Esther :: interview on Up For It with Benny

What do most people have to show for that dreadful period from December 2019 to October 2021?

If you were lucky, a hobby picked up out of boredom blossomed into a fruitful money-making enterprise, you gained a new appreciation for the minutiae of everyday life, or you went tiktok viral. If you were unlucky, you now understand the true potential of the words “boredom” and “procrastination,” you witnessed the unravelling of society as we know it (… toilet paper fights), or you went tiktok viral. 

Regardless, I am willing to bet that the average person’s lockdown reapings were not two full length albums. Whilst most of us were at a loss as to where exactly to channel the extreme range of emotions brought on by being indefinitely housebound, Ugly Esther, FBi’s latest Independent Artist of the Week, was busy quietly creating in her bedroom. 

“It’s like a time capsule of how I feel. When I listen to my first album it’s like reading my 17 year old diary.”

Both Esther’s debut self titled album and her second release Memorandum possess a certainty and determination that escaped so many of us during lockdown. Perhaps this creative clarity comes from the fact that she was initially making music purely for herself. Rather than allowing introspection to be daunting, Esther embraced the fact that for the better part of two years, a lot of people’s only point of reference was their own feelings, experiences, and (very) immediate surroundings. The seclusion was so strong that Esther never anticipated even releasing the tracks she made. It was, concisely put: 

“Music made by me, for me.”

Fast forward to 2024, and Esther has dropped yet another full length album titled Purgatory. The culmination of two years of music, her latest release is about being a young woman and “trying to find your voice and who you are.”

The record marks the evolution and technical refinement of Esther’s still very distinctly diy sound. The title track is absolutely stunning – complete with heartfelt violin pulls, delicate plucky instrumentation, and airy harmonies. Not lacking in the spunk that characterised Esther’s earlier albums, Purgatory has its theatrical moments (the track ‘girl from bedlam’ especially) and maintains a gentle but assured firmness. 

As far as production goes, Ugly Esther shows us that there really are no good excuses. When asked whether the rumour that she produces everything on her iPhone was indeed true – she replied without faltering – “All of it”. 

“I can do it wherever I want, it’s so idiot proof that it works.” 

The same can be said for Esther’s approach to artistry and music making. She makes it “work.” Whether she’s “taping her apple mic to her face” or choosing to not agonise excessively over her album artwork, Ugly Esther’s diy self-conviction and inspirational optimism shines bright. Revealing to Benny that she’s never performed live but would like to, there’s absolutely no doubt that she will sometime soon.

Listen back to Ugly Esther’s full interview on Up For It above. Stream her music below.