E^ST

“My music’s always been driven by my emotional state,” accepts Central Coast-based singer songwriter Melissa Bester — or E^st, as hundreds of thousands of listeners already know her. “It’s the way I express how I’m feeling, but just as often it’s how I find out how I’m feeling.” Either way, she says, it ends up being raw. “Very raw,” she adds. “As raw as I can possibly make it.”

In a world where it’s hard to know what’s real, E^st’s opulent pop provides a rare glimpse of honesty. Spearheaded by rebound banger Talk Deep, her debut album I’m Doing It was recorded with acclaimed long-term collaborator Jim Eliot (Ellie Goulding, Anne-Marie, Halsey), and centers on dealing with heartbreak and feelings of isolation and failure. It signals a huge leap forward from EP releases like Old Age and Life Ain’t Always Roses, which drew plaudits from the likes of The Fader and Paper.

Now it’s time for an entire new chapter and one that brings us, in 2019, to I’m Doing It — an album whose story arc takes places after the collapse of a relationship, and which also finds Mel considering issues surrounding anxiety and her own mental health that’ve been with her for her entire career. “The first half of the album is all about being a heartbroken mess as your life falls apart, and it’s wallowing in that with no effort to make sense of it,” Mel reports. “I mean you need to have a wallow — it’s crucial.” The turning point comes in the middle with a song, appropriately enough, called Turn. After that, the songs take on a more upbeat tone. “They’re still dealing with sadness and heartbreak but there’s a conscious effort to do better and be better. The album takes on an optimistic tone as I grow as a person. By the end, the album’s like: it’s okay, I’m getting by, I’m coping. ”

There are artists whose music soundtracks their change into someone else, and others whose music shows them realising who they’ve been all along. You’ll hear flashes of all that in E^st’s own music, but she reckons I’m Doing It channels something subtly different. “It’s about where I’m at right now, and that’s ever-changing,” she explains. “If anything, it’s about who I’m becoming.