New Music Friday: Ess_West
We're back with a New Music Friday! This week Brixton based Hip-Hop visionary Ess_West came down to the Stööki Studio. Ess_West mixes UK Rap and R&B with Indie influences to make something new - drawing motivation from what many would think separate worlds of transatlantic rap and UK Indie. His previous single ‘You’, received radio support from Kiss FM , BBC 1Xtra, Capital Xtra and Reprezent.
Ess_West's first 2023 release was ‘Damn’, which considered his affection and agony through orange-colored glasses and melodic late-night-drive tones. It also comes with a stylish visualiser presented by True Noir Pictures; a murkiness of fantastic evening scenes as Ess wanders around the roads of London.
Ess_West brings more South London feels for your ears with his second release from his upcoming mixtape "I love you, still." out on October 1st. These new releases are two more giant steps forward for this always advancing craftsman, demonstrating that Ess_West is one to watch on the UK rap scene.
Nadia: Hi guys, we're back again for another New Music Friday feature, today I have the lovely Ess_West at the Stooki Studio. It's a pleasure for you to be here. Please can you introduce yourself?
Ess_West: I’m Ess_West, a musician from Brixton. I produce, songwrite and do bits in between.
Nadia: What is the meaning of your name, Ess West?
Ess_West: Everyone just calls me Ess. And then, Ess West I guess because of we're I’m from. A lot of my people are from South West, and I'm from Brixton Hill. So yeah I just threw the West on that.
Nadia: Wicked so how did you get into music making?
Ess_West: I just used to rap back in the day, and then Els was producing for me for a bit. Then I started learning how to produce, then we got a studio and it kind of evolved from there. I started off going to the studio with my boy and then that evolved into me learning to produce, songwrite and then I started working with a bunch of older people and working on my own stuff.
Nadia: So tell us about your new single ‘Damn’ and what was the inspiration behind the song?
Ess_West: It’s the first single in the project. I don’t know, just listen to the song, I’m a pretty self explanatory person. I feel like the music is quite emotional and quite vocal so you can hear what it’s about if you listen to the tune.
Nadia: What was it like working on the visuals for ‘Damn’ with True Noir Pictures?
Ess_West: It was good, they flew over from Washington and they just kind of followed us around for the week. It was an interesting process, normally we direct our own stuff so working with someone who understands the vision, it's that hard to find someone that could replicate it, but he's definitely the man for that job.
Nadia: You said you self-direct most of the time. What made you want to bring in someone else for this particular project?
Ess_West: I just think we got to a point where we were doing everything. It's good to just have someone that's as passionate about visuals and filming as we are about music. I'm lucky I have a good team of people that can make mad stuff happen with barely any budget. Now we've got a little budget, we've got some things going on. It's just like, let's get someone that loves making videos.
Ess_West - Damn
Filmed by True Noir
Nadia: I think that makes total sense, what's your songwriting process like?
Ess_West: Our studio is in the basement. Normally, I don't know if I have a process. Normally I'll just be doing sessions one day and then it gets to like 6 or 7 o'clock and most people would cut and I would just end up making some beats. I would be playing around with some stuff that I feel sits where I would want to sit. I've got a couple producers who are familiar with what I do around me that might pull up and just add little bits here and there.
Then once I've got like two or three beats, I just started writing. I can’t lie, for the millions of songs that I make, I don't really release too much. Just because I feel like you have to fine tune it if you're trying to create something from scratch. You know what I mean? There's bare songs that just sound like versions of the songs I've released, but just not quite as they didn’t have what I needed to have.
Nadia: So there's a lot in the vault that hasn't come out yet?
Ess_West: Yeah, definitely. The whole project is the first time that people can really see the pieces together and we've got a couple nice projects coming after that. We started working on some new stuff super recently as well, but I'll think about that when it comes to that.
Nadia: Are you looking forward to what the future holds?
Ess_West: Yeah, definitely. I haven't really released too much of my own music, so coming into this year and being ready to put out a project and just yeah I’m excited.
Nadia: Who and what are your music influences?
Ess_West: I feel like musically, obviously I grew up listening to a lot of different styles. I started with Jadakiss and stuff, and then kind of evolved with the way that music evolved. It's evolved more and more. Freedom of expression, especially in rap music. I listen to a bit of everything still, people that inspire me, like Frank Ocean, a whole bunch of things. To be honest with you, I don't even really listen to that much music anymore. I just end up making a bit of it, listening to the artists I'm working with.
Nadia: Is that because you don't want to be regurgitating the stuff you’ve hear or you just want to stay in your own lane?
Ess_West: Sort of my ears are just tired. For hours in the studio, on my way home, I just listen to angry white people that are yelling and I just try and relax, I can't do no more 808’s.
Nadia: What's your favourite thing about performing live and what's been your favourite show so far?
Ess_West: We ain’t even really started doing live shows yet, for us we're just trying to build up something organically. These days you just do you, by making quality content and putting it out, promoting it in the right places and things like that. But after this project, hopefully next year we'll be thinking about trying to book something, especially in London.
Ess West - 'Sour' the second serving from his forthcoming EP is out now!
Filmed by True Noir
Nadia: What are your goals for the rest of this year and 2024?
Ess_West: Not get bagged, just enjoy myself. You know, mental health stuff, stay above that, get some money. Survive the impending crisis or whatever.
Nadia: Describe your ideal day off.
Ess_West: I don't really know. You know I'm an easily pleased person. I just go to the studio, smoke, see the mandem, make some stuff. It's, yeah, I don't know, my days off are to go and grab some food I guess, step outside, get some vitamin D and vitamin C.
Nadia: How would you describe your fashion style?
Ess_West: Today.. it was a little safari vibe. I didn't know that when I stepped out of the house, but that's when you lot took me into a massive greenhouse and it came to be painfully apparent.
Nadia: You knew what was coming, right?
Ess_West: Yeah, no idea. I had no idea. I was just, I was dressed like in camo.
Nadia: What do you like about Stööki jewellery and the Stööki Movement?
Ess_West: I wasn't too aware of the jewellery or the movement until today, but it's cool. You lot are nice people, I like it. It's been a nice afternoon. The ring’s popping, thank you for having me.
Nadia: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists creators?
Ess_West: No, not really.
Nadia: Just do you?
Ess_West: No, no, but not even in a negative way but like definitely do you like, get some money and run up some numbers or something.
Nadia: Finally, where can we find more of your music?
Ess West: On the internet, all the places where you get music, Spotify, Apple Music. I’ll just promo the billion dollar companies and they'll pay me properly. Jump on man's Instagram, that's where I am at. I'm on TikTok, but I don't really love it there, I can't lie. I'm there for purely work purposes. I can't even find my Twitter.
Nadia: Is there anything you would like to add?
Ess West: No, I haven't. I feel like you guys have asked me my whole life story. It’s mad.
Nadia: No, thank you so much for being here. So yeah, thank you guys. That's a wrap for today. And make sure you go follow Ess West!
Ess_West's "I love you, still." Mixtape is out on October 1st!