In her first studio album, Mel Bester, known onstage as E^ST, has laid a piece of herself bare.
Recorded with producer Jim Eliot (who has worked with Ellie Goulding, Anne-Marie and Halsey), I’m Doing It is a bittersweet reflection on heartbreak, isolation and feelings of failure. It marks the end of one chapter in her life and the beginning of the next.
Recently 21 and having been shoulder-tapped as a songwriter for acts like Noah Cyrus and Nicole Millar, E^ST is finally doing her, doing life and doing it all. I reached out for a chat about new music and new chapters.
Finding your footing as a young adult and going through some turbulent relationships — these are pretty big moments. Would you say that your album captures these moments?
This album is really personal and honest about my experiences, what I was going through at the time I was making it. It definitely is about me just trying to learn how to be a functioning human. There’s moments of ‘what the hell am I doing? I feel like such a failure’, there’s moments of not feeling much self-confidence, going through heartbreak, you know. The album is my attempt to grow and learn from your mistakes and better yourself as a person.
Is there a song on this album that holds a special place in your heart?
That’s a hard question, it’s like choosing a favourite child! It changes all the time, which song I’m the most drawn to. But I think the most special is the title track, ‘I’m Doing It.’ I feel like it sums up the journey of the album very well. It has this quiet confidence, you know, which kind of says ‘I have gone through a rough time. I haven’t been treated well, and I wasn’t always sure if I was capable of getting through what I needed to get through. But here I am. I’m learning how to stand on my own feet. I’m doing it.’ That song has always meant a lot to me, and is consistently my favourite song on the album.
What has being a musician been like in 2020 and where to from here?
It’s been so different to how it normally is. I’ve had to find really creative ways to make content and to keep in contact and share music with people. I mean, the world’s pretty online anyway, thankfully, so I’ve still been able to share music from the album. I miss touring so much. I miss playing these songs to people in real life. Being stripped of the privilege to see the world and to travel has made me realise how badly I want to see the world. Once I’m able to, I would just love to travel — whether that’s with a tour or on a writing trip or just going somewhere to explore.
If you could collaborate with any musical artist, who would it be?
I’m like a really big fan of The 1975 —
Oh my God, me too!
Haha, good! Fair enough. I love how much they explore music. Every song of theirs does its own thing and they just seem like really amazing people. I would love to bump it down in a studio with them and see what happens. That would be a dream come true.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
My mum is really adamant about trusting your gut and your intuition. It’s something that she’s always hammered into my mind, that you have those instincts for a reason and they don’t often let you down. Even if something seems crazy in the moment, you have to follow your gut because that’s all you have.
What do you hope your listeners take away from this album?
My life goal is to make people feel at ease and feel comfortable. What I want to accomplish with my music is for people to listen to it and be inspired by this person who’s being really honest in their work — sometimes to the point of making themselves look kind of bad — and feel maybe a little more comfortable being honest with themselves. That’s my biggest hope for what people take away from this album.
I’m Doing It is out now on most music streaming platforms.Support Villainesse