Esther Vallee is Swedish and that automatically makes her a good pop thing.
From Zara Larsson, Robyn and Tove Lo, the Swedes have proved time and time again that they have a natural aptitude for turning moments of emotion into musical clarity that effortlessly shimmers with a crystal-clear confidence.
“Sweden’s females are insanely good,” Esther agrees. “I think it’s amazing how different all of them are but still famous as pop queens. It shows it’s all about being unique and different.”
But amazing as these pop queens may be, Esther herself is a little hesitant to rope herself into the same category.
“I’ve never dared to see myself as an obvious pop star,” she says. “I’ve never has the self=esteem strong enough to see me in that place. Call me a pop star if you want, but I’m just a happy girl writing and singing what feels right.”
And something that feels right is Esther’s current single, ‘Hardcore,’ which she’s now recorded as a live version. We ask her if, when she’s writing songs, if she ever considered how they’ll sound played live, which definitely adds another layer of intrigue into this version of ‘Hardcore.’
“Yeah!” Esther says. “When I’m writing a song, I always play it on piano or guitar, because it’s important for me that the song feels as good when I play it on my own as it feels when its gone through a full production.”
Maybe it’s the sign of a good song that, whatever the context of its performance, its brilliance shines through, stripped bare of all the productions quirks and left to just shine on the back of its lyrical and melodic strengths?
“If you ask me,” Esther continues. “Great songs are made for the most simple, acoustic versions.”
‘Hardcore’ has an extravagant visual video to match Esther’s lyrics detailing a messed up, tangled love affair. The video takes place inside a church, the scenery opulent and timeless. Esther stands there in a white lace dress and red lipstick, a glorious femme fatale, as dancers join her as the tracks ramps up notch after notch.
Is it easy for Esther, then , to image the visuals behind the song once she gets going?
“Sometimes it’s very easy,” Esther answers. “But sometimes it’s very hard. I guess it’s all about the lyrics in the song. The video for ‘Hardcore’ was a bit hard, but together with the amazing director, I had the opportunity to work with it and it felt very simple to come up with a cool idea.”
The lyrics to ‘Hardcore’ feel especially potent and personal to Esther herself, but is it easy for her to open herself up so honestly in her lyrics?
“I actually find it very easy to be personal in my lyrics,” Esther reveals. “I’ve always written a diary, ever since i was young, so it’s become a way for me to handle my feelings…like therapy.”
Esther’s currently signed to Warner Music in Sweden, which is a great start for her to get a foothold in the pop scene, but her sights are set much wider.
“The goal is to work with Warner in evert country,” Esther admits. “I want to work with people who believe in me. The end game is all about being an artist full-time and being an inspiration for people around the world and tour with a big production.”
Most pop artists – hell, even most pop journalists – have that one album by that one artist that solidified their love for pop music, not just as a genre, but as an art-form. For this writer, it was of course Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster, and Esther is no exception to this rule.
“It’s definitely Adele’s 21,” Esther says. “That album made me realise that lyrics and music are all about passion and honesty.”
By all accounts, ‘Hardcore’ should just be the jumping off point for Esther’s 2018, and she confirms that there are a lot of plans in the pipeline.
“I’m going to release a new single soon,” she teases. “Then there’s an EP coming out! More live dates are coming too…I’m just so excited for 2018!”
It’s hard not to share her enthusiasm.
Watch the live video for ‘Hardcore’ below and get into Esther Vallee.
Photography: Ed Whitmarsh
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Words by George Griffiths