Australia’s rising alt-pop queen E^ST eyes debut album, I’m Doing It.
There are few things more exciting than coming across an artist who genuinely thrills you. The hook from their new lead single? It’s been living rent-free in your head for weeks (and you’re not even mad). An ad for one of their songs pops up on YouTube? You don’t skip it.
Sometimes when someone special comes along, you just know. And those in the know, know about E^ST.
While at home she’s better known as Mel Bester, 22-year-old E^ST has spent the past six years quietly cementing herself as The One To Watch in Australia’s flourishing pop scene. In the same year she celebrated her sixteenth birthday – and like Courtney Barnett, Montaigne and dozens of Unearthed gems before her – the Central Coast songwriter found favour online by way of a triple j upload.
‘Old Age’ – a synth-driven pop hit about being a young blood with an old heart – turned the right heads and caught the attention of major label Warner Music, who released her debut EP of the same name later that year.
It seems like every two years E^ST notches up a milestone bigger than the last. Shortly before the release of her third EP, Get Money! (which features a verse from fellow pop act Mallrat on the bouncy, carefree title track), the singer supported Twenty One Pilots on their 2016 Australian run through Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
Here’s a girl opening for a band that blew her mind when she saw them play a sold-out tour for Blurryface, an album she’d count among her top five desert island discs.
“One memory I always look back on fondly is opening for Twenty One Pilots around Australia,” E^ST says of landing the coveted tour spot. “They’re one of my favourite bands and going on the road with them opened my eyes to so many things and I left that tour feeling really inspired.”
Check E^st on the road with Twenty One Pilots:
The fact that she brings main act energy to a support act time slot hasn’t been lost on TØP fans, who were wowed by a defined stage presence beyond her years and quickly embraced her bubbly spirit and quirky alt-pop sound.
Her older videos are filled with comments from TØP devotees, several having persevered through fruitless Google searches off the back of Tumblr posts to find whatever traces of her online they could. Even her name sent the Clique into a spin when, in 2018, it inadvertently tied in with a cryptic clue on the TØP website. E^ST, my friends, is up.
That same year the Fueled By Ramen family grew a little bigger as E^ST lived out a ‘pinch me’ moment joining Paramore, TØP, Panic! At The Disco and more on the NYC-based record label with a cult following.
“This has legit been a dream of mine since I was a kid, and I still can’t believe this is a real thing that’s happening!!!” she gushed in a Facebook post announcing the news.
The thing about ‘pinch me’ moments when you’re on the up is that once they start, they don’t tend to stop. With her fourth EP in five years on the way, Life Ain’t Always Roses, and a tour with Amy Shark under her belt, E^ST was blessed with the news that she’d be living out her childhood emo dreams supporting an OG real one: Brendon Urie.
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“The most memorable thing about him is definitely the way he treats other people, which just seems to be filled with respect and kindness,” E^ST told Cool Accidents of the Panic! At The Disco frontman. “[It was] such a cruisey tour to be a part of, and Brendon’s fans definitely helped with that.”
Whether you put it down to her unassuming charm, effortlessly cool aesthetic or the innate power of relatable pop, E^ST seems to bring out the best in people. Rarely has a place as precarious as the YouTube comments section had a more wholesome, welcoming vibe.
Releasing a debut album is always a daunting task, especially when more eyes than ever before are keenly watching your next move (E^ST ticked over 50 million streams just last month).
It’s even more daunting, still, having to navigate an industry on the brink due to a global pandemic while the world at large experiences the rumblings of social upheaval. These are wild times for all concerned, but E^ST’s music makes it all a little easier to take, her lyrics offering some skerrick of sense in a world that doesn’t seem to make any.
On her upcoming LP I’m Doing It, set for release next month, E^ST captures the dizzying highs of being head over heels for someone on ‘Talk Deep’, the crushing lows of giving “all your love to someone who doesn’t love you back” on ‘Fresh Out Of Love’, and everything in between.
Her frank admission of being a hot mess and the one at fault on ‘Maybe It’s Me’, with its upbeat ’80s synths and 2irl4meirl lyrics, makes for a stone cold bop and essential listening for an iso bedroom boogie.
“It’s hard to stay true to yourself even at the best of times,” the singer admits of a life in the spotlight. “But by making mistakes, I learnt so much about myself and what I really wanted, and now as a young adult I feel more sure of myself than ever.”
View E^st upcoming album bundles here