Bad experiences in life can leave a huge mark on a person, emotional streams that can lie below the surface, bubbling up and emerging in torrents at any time. London’s Esther Joy admits that there’s been a lot of upheaval in her life. “Most of my teenage years and early 20s were super dysfunctional and I did a great job of royally fucking up”, she explains. “The thing that pieced me back together was rediscovering making music”.
Her upcoming EP ‘Psychic Tears’, due out on 11th August, is therefore the sound of a musician going on a journey of self-discovery, as well as self-acceptance. While she may help Charli XCX weave bubbly, PC Music-inspired tunes on tour, in her own music she crafts something darker, while still maintaining a pop sensibility. First single ‘Samgel’ explored the “dark presence” that Esther writes a lot about in her music, and she’s continuing to dive deep into those recesses on her new track.
In Esther’s words, ‘Friendless Necessity’ “is about the emotional remnants left behind from a bad experience in my life. I’ve written it almost like a love song to the trauma - exploring how at times I can feel lost without it, even though it hurts but how at other times it totally suffocates me”. Her thoughts go a long way to explaining why sometimes the heavy percussive elements and squalling synths on ‘Friendless Necessity’ sometimes feel deeply oppressive, while at other times they’re spacious and give room to breathe. Similarly, Esther’s own vocals shift between pained and emotionally wrought to more languid and accepting. It’s a beguiling mix of hard and soft, harsh yet tender.
“The track is ultimately a plea for freedom”, Esther says, “but not fully knowing whether it won’t let go of me or I can’t let go of it”. Although she may be conflicted about the trauma that still lies within her, which reflects across the track itself, there’s less of a dilemma for the listener. Once heard, this is a hard one to willingly let go of.
Get the first spin of ‘Friendless Necessity’ below.