A Q&A with Esteban

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Desert funk technicians, from Derby – here’s drummer Sam from Esteban…

How did you get the title of your latest release, and what does it mean to you?
Jackpot Motel was a last-minute decision. Liam (guitar) took this photo the day after his Vegas wedding; he was in a ‘neon junkyard’ museum crammed with interesting vintage signs and took a shot of this old motel sign. We needed an image and a title, so this was like killing two birds with one stone.

What was the hardest part about putting this release together, and why?
Towards the end of the recording sessions we really had to stop bringing new songs to the front for consideration, otherwise we’d probably still be in there recording now! We were on a roll but, of course, we also needed to close the record out. Jackpot Motel ended up with 16 tracks, all of which were written within a 12-month period and, honestly, the hardest part was playing the last note. We always have an amazing time recording at The Animal Farm; Mat and Ville keep us focused but there is always a room for hilarity.

Who produced the release – what did they bring to it?
Mat Leppanen tirelessly captured every spec of information and fettled all the way to the end until there was nothing left but to sit back and listen. Mat brings a sense of comfort and confidence – he’s very balanced in his approach. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how quickly he cleans the tracks up whilst we’re left to concentrate on our performance.

What do you want the listener to take away from listening to your music?
A renewed sense of space and purpose and awareness of self. The biggest challenge artists face is being able to hand the brushes to the listener. We bring the canvas and the colours but it’s down to the listener to paint their own picture.

How does a track normally come together? Can you tell us something about the process?
When Liam comes up with new music, he generally brings three or four parts to the table which flow and interconnect in a sonically nice way. The lyrical concepts are usually written up prior to matching with the music. It’s quite usual for us to bring the two together harmoniously in a near completed state, even with just guitar and vocal lines. We’ve used this process since the very beginning. What then happens the idea is sent to Stephen for cutting and polishing; he’ll arrange the music and re-write the lyrics to suit the mood or story being told. Meanwhile the drums and bass might be demoed to add colour and texture. So, I’d say conceptual ideas account for 80% of the process but the last 20% sometimes isn’t fixed until it’s finally recorded, and that is really important – it means vocal lines, melodies and vocal harmonies and hooks can be freely added. Sometimes that can change a good track into a great track right at the very last moment.

What band/artists have influenced you the most since you started this project, and why?
That’s a big question. We all listen to such a wide range of music it’s simply too difficult to even give a short answer here. It’s probably easier to use genres – funk, soul, indie, rock, groove, disco, folk, even blues – and all those great artists who brought their message forward and continue to do so.

esteban interview band derby

When the world is back to normal where would you like to tour, and why?
On a pirate ship off a tropical spice island in the southern hemisphere – captive audience and rum, that’s all we ever needed!

If you could pick one track for our readers to listen to in order to get a taste of your music, what would you pick, and why?
Hmmm, with 16 to choose from it changes almost every day – that’s the best thing about albums. I’ll say today is a ‘Thunderbird’ day. It’s cool and folkloric; it whisks you away to the Pacific north east where the Quillayute creed live. A tale passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. I keep going back for a cheeky listen myself.

What ambitions do you have for the band/your career?
Honestly, to play live again could be considered ambitious given the current climate. We’ve always wanted to record so we’ll keep doing that and I’d say if we ever got the chance to play live on TV, that’d be another tick in the box if Jools is reading!

Finally, as you leave the stage, what are your parting words?
Drinks on Steve!

Esteban’s second album, ‘Jackpot Motel’, is out now
For more info visit: facebook.com/weareesteban

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