Esseks is a multi-talented artist that we love here at HIHF. He’s well known in the dubstep world for his filthy bass tunes over the years, as well as his impressive watercolor album art he pairs with all his releases. We had the pleasure of chatting with him at West Virginia’s Yonderville festival, where he shared the stage with some of the hottest names in this quickly expanding bass music world, ranging from Liquid Stranger to Wreckno to Of The Trees to Lab Group.
Last Friday, he unleashed his brooding new The Uncertain Future EP. Featuring six absolute slaps from the ever-impressive talent, Esseks follows up his 2021 Deadbeats-assisted album with yet another stellar example of the production chops he brings to the table. With more bangers to add to his artillery of festival weapons, his upcoming performance at Excision‘s Bass Canyon at The Gorge is not to be missed, if you are attending! Just like he brought the fire with his Yonderville performance, you can be sure to expect the same throughout the rest of the summer from Esseks.
We sat down with Esseks to chat about what he’s been listening to, what’s to come, and about his Brooklyn art show that he put on and paired with the new project. Check out the conversation down below and a massive shoutout to Esseks and his team for chatting with us!
We also had Esseks on board earlier this year for a proper HIHF playlist takeover, you can check that out here.
HIHF: You’re based out of New York, Brooklyn specifically, where the music and arts scene has a large, rich history. What kind of inspiration do you draw from those roots into your project? What’s your favorite part of living in Brooklyn?
Not so much the city itself as inspiration, more just so the people. My favorite part of living in Brooklyn is the food. I mean, honestly, the main reason I live in New York still, it’s just because I have my friends there. I have my girlfriend’s job there. So I don’t really have a choice to leave. But you know, nowadays, it’s just as expensive as everywhere else, so I’ve got no reason to leave either.
HIHF: What are your favorite Brooklyn spots to eat?
Saraghina, great Pizza. Speedy Romeo, great pizza. Bushniwa is great Japanese. Honestly, there’s a lot. It depends on what you’re looking for. I’m just thinking about places that are close to my house, really.
HIHF: What were your earliest memories of beginning to produce music? How did you first get started?
I first got started just by playing guitar tracks on Pro Tools. And then just like layering guitar tracks, and then like kind of just writing like guitar music. Then from there, my dad had an electronic drum set, like our family’s drum set. So I would play drums over that. Thenmy brother had a bass I would like play, like my own like, kinda like rock songs, I guess, putting them all together online.
HIHF: Would you still consider yourself an instrumentalist?
Oh yeah. I mean, I still play the keys on songs and stuff, but definitely not as much as I would just a producer.
HIHF: What were some of the challenges you faced early on as you began the Esseks moniker?
I don’t know man, that’s a tough one. I guess just being young and dumb. Partying too hard.
HIHF: I feel like every musician starts off partying too hard.
I think that was probably the biggest challenge I had early on was separating the party, but I’ve gotten better with my older, wiser years. I think it comes for everyone eventually. But yeah, I think it’s not hard, if you enjoy making the music, it’s not hard to get ‘over’ the party one way or another when you get to a certain age.
HIHF: In addition to being a producer, you also incorporate your own artwork and watercolor paintings into your music. How long have you been creating these unique pieces? When did you start tying everything together into one?
I just went to art school for illustration. Then while I was at art school, making a career out of art seemed just as unlikely as being here with music. So, I just kind of got more into doing the music. Because I was getting gigs and starting my music career, when I graduated college it was all happening all of a sudden, I finally had time to work on art. I eventually had more fun with my art and put it all together.
HIHF: Describe to me your earliest memories of either picking up a paintbrush or a pencil, or just whenever you starting getting all of your artistic ideas onto paper, or Microsoft Paint or whatever program that might have been?
I always sketched when I was a little kid and my grandparents were very encouraging. “You’re an artist, You’re an artist!” they’d say. I was like too young to even know anything but they would just like put that stuff in my head. They basically implanted the idea that I was an artist into my head. So I would draw. Every night I would draw as a little kid. I still have all the notebooks of my shitty childhood drawings.
HIHF: Well I’m sure lots of fans would love to see those! Last year, you dropped your album “The Villain’s Journey” with Deadbeats. This was a storytelling album. What was the direction you wanted to go with this originally? How did you incorporate all of those ideas into a nine-track album?
I was really into this comic title Head Lopper by Andrew Mclean. The art is very much inspired by that art too. The music sounded very much like, I don’t know how to describe it, I kind of wanted the album to be like it’s going to be listened to from start to finish. I always really liked concept albums like old Rush albums and the Mars Volta. They would have their albums like a vague story and I kind of really liked that idea. So it was kind of just a play on that old prog-rock concept.
HIHF: Does that storytelling provide a different artistic outlet to you, separate from the music?
I mean, it all comes from the same place. So it’s really like creating something that makes you feel the way — the same way something looks the way it sounds. Like if it looks the same way it sounds and it makes you feel a certain way, that’s really the magnetic north. Like you just gotta trust your gut and hope it works out.
Like there’s also a thing where in the process of creating, it would give me ideas or have me thinking “this sounds like ‘this’ is happening” and from there I just made the illustrations. Then I kind of tried to tie a story together through those illustrations that I made for the tracks.
HIHF: Is that ‘Trust Your Gut’ something you want fans to take away from that album?
No, that’s just more of like a mantra to myself that I’ve worked with lately because I think I went through a very long phase of overanalyzing my work. It kind of made it all feel not very interesting. When I stopped judging my work as I was creating it, it made me much happier with it.
The only place in which the story is actually written down is in the inserts of the vinyl, which only just got shipped now to me now. So it’s probably going to be mid-July when it gets to everyone, which is pretty late. But other than that, the actual story is very vague. Like I don’t think anyone actually knows the story. It’s more of just like a vehicle to allow for more… I like music that feels more like a story because it’s like, the way that songs are composed feels like a story with like peaks and valleys. I like music that I can read a book while listening to and feel like it complements the book.
The Uncertain Future
HIHF: A year after your last album, you are now dropping “The Uncertain Future”. What was the direction you went with here?
Honestly, I just wrote it at a time when I was in a bad place. I kind of just went with that. Made the theme, and artwork, to be different tarot cards. This one was more just like I had a bunch of music from a certain time period that I thought all kind of went together because I was going through the same thing throughout that time.
HIHF: You’re pairing this release with an art show in Brooklyn, featuring Tiedye Ky, Shanghai Doom, Brella, and JAMiAM. How excited are you to host that one in your own city and what went into that?
Most excited I’ve been for anything in a long time honestly. It’s not a huge event but of course, I have a soft spot for the Brooklyn Music Scene. We haven’t really had a lot going on besides Avant Gardner even, since Dubday left. I wanted to make a place for everyone to get together. That’s why the art show at the beginning is free because I want everyone to have a place to hang out during the day together for a few hours. I wanted to do. something fun for everybody but also share my art with everybody. I’m honestly putting everything into it, I just want to make it as good as possible.
HIHF: Next is a little crash course on you for our readers, so tell me three underrated producers in your eyes that deserve more recognition.
There’s a ton. Bricksquash, Resonant Language, tough question though because I feel bad like there are so many people I’m omitting. Inspect3r is great. Shanghai Doom is honestly underrated. I find out about a new talent every few days to be honest. When I was first starting out, you’d find someone every few months. Now, it’s like every few days I’m like “WOW they are crazy good.”
HIHF: Three of your overall favorite producers?
It’s basic but honestly G Jones, Tipper, and IVY LAB. I think Tiedye Ky is actually up there as my most listened to. I’ve also been listening to a ton of Quiet Bison lately.
HIHF: Three bucket list festivals to play in the future?
Electric Forest, I haven’t played. Sonic Bloom, I haven’t done that. I’d like to play Bass Coast too!
HIHF: What’s next for the Esseks project? Are there any goals you are hoping to accomplish within the next few years?
I’ve got some really good bookings coming up that I’m excited about. But mostly, I’m just trying to focus on hopefully making this art show thing more of like a regular thing. Maybe doing more than one city and more than once a year.
HIHF: Looking back from the beginning of your career to now, what are some defining moments? What have been some of your favorite parts of this journey?
My favorite part is every morning waking up and going to work and doing what I love most, being creative.
Thanks again to Esseks for stopping by to chat with us. Be sure to check out “The Uncertain Future” below and let us know your thoughts in the comments section or on our socials!
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