Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
It may sound a touch cliche but I don't remember ever deciding to write music, it's just something I've always done. When I was a little kid I would make up nonsense songs that I would sing to myself (and whoever else was around me) for hours on end and as I got older they just got a little more refined and structured.
My friends and family have always been incredibly encouraging and I also had some really supportive teachers in high school that opened my eyes to the real possibility that I could pursue a career in music.
So ultimately I can't say there was a catalyst to why I started making music but there are definitely plenty of people who made sure I didn't stop!
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
When I was 16 I was a semifinalist on New Zealand's Got Talent, I arrived at the location at 8am, had 2 rehearsals, multiple outfit changes and my hairstyle changed twice. I went on stage to perform around 8pm, finished my song, felt relieved that it was finally done and then the producers told me that the piano hadn’t been plugged in… So the sound hadn't been recorded and I would have to do it all again. I had to wait until every other act had performed, I think it was around 10 pm at this point, and then I got up and redid my performance all the while having to pretend it was my first time.
What has been the high point of your music path?
As an artist seeing an increase in numbers and engagement is really nice, and it’s also quite reassuring that you’re on the right path but for me a lot of my high points haven’t been linked to numbers. This is an industry where you hear the word “no” a lot so I think every time you get a “yes” is a little win.
Every time someone tells you they found your music and really resonated with it, every time you nail a riff or find the perfect phrase to put in a song; every show and every video, they’re all high points I find myself celebrating.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
It varies a little for each song but ordinarily I sit down in my studio at the computer, open a Logic project with some sort of song concept in mind and then I flesh out the melody, the instrumental parts and the lyrics all at the same time. When I first started I would write a song on piano or guitar and then build the song from those basic bones but as I've gotten more confident and competent at producing I tend to do it all at once.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be? There are so many companies you can work with (both big and small) to help grow your brand and get your music heard as an independent artist but it can certainly take a lot of time to wade through the ones that aren't the right fit for you. Things are also constantly changing, so it can be frustrating to figure out where your energy is best spent; what platforms are going to be most fruitful etc. You also still need a promotional budget! Essentially being an Indie artist is not only being the musician but also taking on all of the roles that a traditional label would, PR, marketing, networking to name a few. The biggest challenge I see independent artists facing is finding the budget to not only create their music but also promote it and get it heard.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why? In all honesty there are so many talented people out there making interesting and unique music, so there aren't many artists I wouldn't be excited to share a stage with! But the first one that jumped to mind is Dermot Kennedy, I think he is an incredible songwriter and he has an awesome set of pipes to go with it
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Before covid I was working on getting a band together to play live, then we were thrust into a pandemic and I shifted my focus to recording and producing. But I think in terms of preparation you aim to find the right people with the right chemistry and then you rehearse everything until you know it inside out and backwards. That way when you're on stage you're able to perform in the moment, confident you know your parts and words
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it! Definitely Pretty. I wrote the first version of Pretty when I was 14, the intro piano part hasn't changed since then but it has certainly gone through many different writing phrases; different choruses, different verses, different instrumental parts, it's even been rewritten in a couple of different genres!
I can say with full confidence that it's final form, which I just released a few weeks back, is my favorite version of them all. It took 10 years but it's finally done.
What's coming up in the future? I'm recording my first full length album! I'm currently in the process of fleshing out demos of all of the songs for the album but I'm excited to head into the studio mid October with a group of talented musicians to bring them all to life.
We'll be recording a lot of the tracks live so it will have a slightly different feel than my previous work and as someone that spends 99% of my time recording alone I have to say I'm really looking forward to having other creative input.
After the record is finished we'll be out promoting it and setting up for a tour
Tell us where fans can access your music?
About Estella Dawn
Estella, New Zealand born, US based songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist and producer. As a working musician, she writes and records her vocals and piano as well as co-producing all aspects of her music. Estella sings with the melodic command, subtlety and range that spans genres. She's been compared to the likes of, Adele, Billie Eilish, Pink and Hayley Williams to name a few. These well crafted songs contain multiple layers, both vocally and musically, subtle and soothing when needed and sharp and gritty when desired.
Estella Dawn has something to say, and she does it through music. Her songs are often personal and social explorations of life. 2020 saw her refine her skills to develop and define her own style, as well as navigate the overall business of music. It was a prolific year for Estella, she released 10 tracks, a new single every 6 weeks, building a steadily growing following that are resonating with her intimate, been there, done that, outlook on life. With this growth, there have been many highs, her song "I Dare You" charted on the media base Radio Top 40 chart, she's been interviewed by and had songs added to many radio stations, her songs have also been included on some big Spotify playlists and she's had many wonderful reviews by global music bloggers.
Building on this work, 2021 began strong with Estella's first single 'Petty', then 'Trolls' followed by her most recent single 'Pretty'. Estella heads into the studio in September to record and produce her first full length album with a band, keep an eye on Estella Dawn she clearly has a deep creative well to draw from.