Volume 92, Issue 32
Friday, October 30, 1998
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Diva breathing sultry sounds
By Mark Pytlik
"You're not gonna ask me any dumb questions, right? Rule no.1 of good journalism don't ask me any questions I can say 'yes,' 'no' or 'fine' to." Umm, okay.
And so begins an interview with upstart Canadian chanteuse Esthero. Not 30 seconds into it and she's already put her foot down, affirming the notion she is every bit as feisty in person as she comes off as being on her debut LP, Breath From Another.
After regaling stories of past journalists that she has similarly daunted, she assures me that our conversation won't be as turbulent. "You're on the phone you're harder to intimidate." Wonderful. So where do we go from here?
"I don't know," she sighs. "Do you like South Park?" Not wishing to spend the next hour discussing the relative merits of the "Pig and the Elephant" episode, I decide to try and bring up the state of the Canadian music scene. Thankfully, this is a topic of which Esthero seems particularly passionate.
Although she is signed to an American-based label, the 19-year-old Toronto native is not planning on relocating to Los Angeles. anytime soon. "I think people need to stay here," she states emphatically. "There's something about to happen. Imagine if Alanis had stayed in Canada. [Think about] all the attention she could have brought here and all the good things she could have done for other musicians. I'm not disrespecting [her], but as far as everyone is concerned, she's American."
Don't misconstrue her criticisms as spiteful and bitter Esthero is above taking meaningless pot shots at her contemporaries. Her words indicate a genuine concern and love for the Canadian music scene. She is particularly fond of Toronto where, as a teenager, she cultivated a love for a multitude of musical genres. "Toronto is a place where I can see reggae, drum 'n bass, swing, country rock and salsa in one night. There is nothing else like it."
Esthero is so enamoured with Toronto's musical offerings, she's using her high-profile position to try and shift the spotlight to local independent artists. "Every time I do an American interview, I name-drop and talk about shit that's going on here. If I meet someone who's gonna write down my words for hundreds of people to read, I'm going to try and bring the focus here."
When she's not coyly diverting the spotlight from herself, Esthero is busy collecting accolades of her own. Breath From Another is a varied and eclectic cocktail of musical styles and doesn't operate under the pretense her music is wholly unique and inimitable.
"Nothing is new anymore. A lot of people are so intent on being original they end up closing themselves off to the great [music] that could make a good record. My influences have obviously formed me, so I'm just gonna let them come out. In essence, you end up becoming original."
Considering many artists go through entire careers without realizing this simple point, Esthero is well-poised to have a sizable impact on the music world. Just remember not to ask her any dumb questions.
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