"I was already on stage at the age of 6 and wasn't afraid at all, on the contrary, I really enjoyed it," says Esther Graf, describing one of her performances in her mother's musical. These shows gave the 23-year-old musician, songwriter and model her first taste of the stage at an early age. In the interview, she talks about her career, the inspiration behind her music, and gives us insights into her collaborations with artists like Alligatoah and Olexesh, among others.
Born and raised in Carinthia, Austria, Esther came into contact with music at an early age through her mother - a producer for children's musicals. Through this circumstance she discovers her love for acting, singing and dancing. But instead of the musical stage, pop music became her home. At the age of 14, she decided to combine her enthusiasm for music with her school career: with the support of her parents, she transferred to a school in Salzburg that offered a musical focus. There Esther takes the opportunity to deepen her hobby. "I had such a real high school musical moment: there was a recording studio, a dance studio and a huge rehearsal room," she says. Interacting with many creative minds is also shaping her character. She writes her first lyrics, incorporating much of her personality, and Esther Graf - the singer - develops. "The school paved my way. I think if I hadn't gone to school, I wouldn't have had the opportunities to even be where I am now. Just from the mindset, it just kicked something off for me," Esther says, looking back on her school days.
After graduation, she moved to Vienna. In the Austrian capital, Esther is approached by a model scout on the famous Mariahilfer Strasse. Well prepared by her experience in acting, she starts modeling on her own at 18. The skills she needs to bring as a model also help her in her current career as a singer. "I prioritized music for myself, but I still have photo and video shoots every month," she said.
Photo: Rob Luethje
"My goal is for people to associate me and my music not with a genre but with me as a person and my voice."
After the interim excursion into the fashion world , the music is then in the foreground for Esther. Despite attending school with a focus on pop music, she is inspired by a wide variety of genres, elements of which she likes to use. Thanks to numerous features, however, the 23-year-old can celebrate her first successes, especially in hip hop. "It's nice that the genres of hip hop and pop can go hand in hand. I love the attitude from rap and the self-confidence that takes place there, but musically I also just love pop music," says the artist, without committing to a direction.
A project that combines her interests in music and fashion, she implements together with About You and Adidas, as well as with the artists Yael and Layla. In addition to fashion and music, pop meets hip hop in the project, and within a very short time a song is created, combined with a visual campaign.
Another collaboration then develops with the rapper Olexesh, whom she meets during recordings with the producers Jugglerz. This resulted in the songs "Letztes Mal" and "Weck mich auf". On the latter, she is part of a spectacular collaboration between Olexesh and HellYes, a producer duo consisting of David Bwooi and Specter Berlin. This collaboration, in which Esther is allowed to participate, results in several music videos that resemble a science fiction film. "It was just nice to be part of such a project in the first place, something so big was created. Specter and Olexesh did a feature, but on different levels," she tells us excitedly.
Photo: Rob Luethje
A few months after the first project with Olexesh, there is also a request from the rapper Alligatoah for a feature, from which the successful song "Mit dir schlafen" emerges. Esther emphasizes thereby how particularly the Rapper supported her also apart from the Song: In addition to the song and the accompanying video that is shot in Madeira, she also accompanies him on the Akkordarbeit Tour 2021. "He has supported me on all levels. I think it's rad how someone can give so much, nothing is more valuable than that. I don't think anything has taken me further in my career than this tour," Esther said enthusiastically.
Photo: Rob Luethje
What gives a young artist collaboration with other artists we asked. "I'm just a person who likes to collaborate with others. It just always results in better things," she explains, but at the same time emphasizes that we can also look forward to some solo projects from her.
"I always have phases where I have a creative flow to me and just write a lot."
Using her most current project as an example, she tells us that she likes to give her art free rein. For her first EP, which will be released in early 2022, Esther goes through various phases in the process. For example, it all starts with collecting songs, followed by a selection process in which the concept for the EP develops. "In the end, I put the pieces together like a puzzle," Esther says about the development of her EP.
Esther is an artist with strong opinions and self-confidence, and she allows these attributes to flow thematically into her songs. "You can identify with my lyrics because I am very honest and totally close to my private person". This closeness in her lyrics thereby let us participate in her life, riddled with ups and downs. With her determined nature she inspires us to live out our own creativity and her cross-genre art paves the way for many artists to try something new.
We thank Esther for the insight into her life and projects and wish her all the best for her future career and look forward to what we can still expect.