Esty Lives Out Her Kaleidoscopic Dreams

Esty Lives Out Her Kaleidoscopic Dreams

The singer-songwriter talks knowing herself as an artist, roller-skating and meeting Britney Spears.

Plushies. Handfuls of plushies shaped like stars, frogs, small bears, even smaller bears and other little doe-eyed animals are hot-glued to Esty’s bedroom wall. It was a project she took on during the pandemic to bring the unadulterated happiness of dozens of tiny toy smiles into her space. “In my room, I make sure there’s bright colors,” Esty says. The outlook has carried over to her wardrobe too, a decision to sport the rainbow that struck last year. “Colorful things make me happy so I’m going to wear the most color I can get away with,” she says. While her references run all over, Esty’s currently taking sartorial cues from the early aughts cartoon, Totally Spies!, which she describes as the whole groovy aesthetic plus futuristic undertones. And honestly, there may not be a better way to explain Esty as a whole.

The first-generation Dominican American artist, who graced us with a mesmerizing live performance at this year’s Desert Gold, put out her latest EP, Estyland, in February. Delivered in Spanglish, the release’s seven tracks reverberate in the body and escape genre boundaries, bouncing from light, breathy vocals layered over music-box melodies to heavy beats, candied pop, anime-like sound effects and snappy raps. Esty wrote the majority of the EP in her plushie-filled room during covid lockdown, ultimately emerging with a neoteric soundscape that showcases the singer at her most assured.

“I feel like I didn’t really start knowing who I was as an artist until I started really diving deep into my culture and all the music that we listen to”

ESTY

“I feel like I didn’t really start knowing who I was as an artist until I started really diving deep into my culture and all the music that we listen to,” says the Providence, Rhode Island–raised, LA–based singer, who released her first EP, Darkroom, in 2014. She points to the incorporation of Spanish into her writing, first featured in the 2019 single “Mantequilla,” and the use of dembow — a music genre from the Dominican Republic featuring an irresistible, carefree drum pattern — on Estyland track “CHIBI.” “Dominicans are mainly half-African, half-Spaniard, so it’s just pulling from both sides, both cultures and just mixing that together.”

“It means fear, I can’t smell it, I’m shining within myself. I have the sun inside me, if that makes sense — damn, it sounds way better in Spanish.”

Esty

As many great things do, Esty’s career began at the middle-school printer. There, she would print pages of Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera lyrics to deliver acapella renditions for her five sisters. Soon after, Esty took her talents to the Britney Spears Camp for the Performing Arts, a summer camp in Massachusetts for creative kids from low-income families. The entire 10-day affair would culminate in a performance for the queen of pop herself. “It was crazy, as a freakinAround the same time, Esty began to build and visit a place in her mind for when things felt out of control, between multiple moves to her father’s incarceration and, later, his successful fight against cancer. A self-contained safe haven and creative harbor, Estyland offered a trap door, a colorful planet to explore where happiness and goodness rule, where disassociating became rejuvenating. Esty found herself a frequent Estyland aeronaut again as the pandemic hit, ultimately naming the new EP in homage to her interior Wonka-esque wonderland. It’s like she sings in the intro to the track “7heaven”: “El miedo no lo huelo, tengo el brillo por dentro.” Esty explains, “It means fear, I can’t smell it, I’m shining within myself. I have the sun inside me, if that makes sense — damn, it sounds way better in Spanish.”g 12 year old, Britney Spears is like, everything,” she says. The whole thing solidified for Esty that singing and writing music were for her.

“It’s like yo, gatekeeper — and I am referring to the gatekeepers of the music industry — open the effing door. I’m coming in, I don’t care,”

ESTY

Around the same time, Esty began to build and visit a place in her mind for when things felt out of control, between multiple moves to her father’s incarceration and, later, his successful fight against cancer. A self-contained safe haven and creative harbor, Estyland offered a trap door, a colorful planet to explore where happiness and goodness rule, where disassociating became rejuvenating. Esty found herself a frequent Estyland aeronaut again as the pandemic hit, ultimately naming the new EP in homage to her interior Wonka-esque wonderland. It’s like she sings in the intro to the track “7heaven”: “El miedo no lo huelo, tengo el brillo por dentro.” Esty explains, “It means fear, I can’t smell it, I’m shining within myself. I have the sun inside me, if that makes sense — damn, it sounds way better in Spanish.”

Esty’s inner rainbow is revealing itself in more ways than her aesthetics. Coming up on four years ago, the singer bought her first pair of roller-skates. She’d spent time on wheels before, skateboarding as a teenager, but something about the ethereal glide of roller-skating hooked her — she’d discovered it while watching the show Sharp Objects. “The two main protagonists are seen skating down this empty street in this small town. They have their arms spread out and it looks like they’re flying,” Esty says. The next week, the skates were in hand and Esty hit the Venice Beach Dance Skate Circle, where she says “the OGs that used to skate in the ’80s [who] still skate now” are happy to share the art. Now, she’s a full-on TikTok phenom. The point being, won’t you give the impossible a try?


It’s a philosophy Esty practices often. Take her favorite lyric off Estyland from the track “pegao!!!”: “Oye portero, ábreme la puerta.” “It’s like yo, gatekeeper — and I am referring to the gatekeepers of the music industry — open the effing door. I’m coming in, I don’t care,” she laughs. It’s a lyrical slice of Esty herself. “I don’t exactly fit the mold, but I’m going to make a way. I’m going to live out my dreams and change music.”

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