London quartet Es first emerged back in 2016, when they released their debut EP, Object Relations on the influential punk label, La Vida Es Un Mus. The record was well enough received to earn them a spot touring with the Thurston Moore Group, and also catch the attention of Upset The Rhythm, who will this Friday release their debut album, Less Of Everything.
Recorded in Tottenham with producer, and Sauna Youth member, Lindsay Corstorphine, Less Of Everything is a record that feels like a manifesto, a clarion call to re-think ideas of excess both in music and in the world at large. It’s a theme that runs through the music as much as the lyricism, as Katy Cottrell’s melody-led bass and Flora Walter’s scything synths produce skeletal adornments to Tamsin M. Leach’s crisp drumming. Atop them all stands the half-spoken tones of Maria Cecilia Tedemalm, sharp, probing vocal. De facto title track, and lead single, Chemical sets a scene of upheaval, a reflection on capitalist structures and the pressure for constant creativity and productivity; the album lets up little from there. Sesame rolls in on rumbling toms, before shifting into a sort of swampy gothic rockabilly, Unsavoury howls like a wilder Ghum, while closing track, Hidden Track, has an almost Sisters Of Mercy-like blend of the darkness and oddity. There’s an intensity here, a driving, confrontational quality, yet there’s also subtlety, a feeling that Less Of Everything might conversely have a lot more to offer than you could ever have hoped.
FTR: For those who don’t know who are Es?
Es are a 4 piece post punk/synth punk band based in London. We started playing together in 2015. We are Katy on Bass, Tamsin on Drums, Flora on Keyboard and Maria on vox.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
Maria: We played our first show at The Victoria in Dalston supporting our friends’ band Slowcoaches. I remember being very nervous and not quite knowing what to do with my hands. I’m usually hiding behind the drumset and I’d never sung in front of a live audience before.
Flora: I don’t really remember our first show – it seems so long ago. I remember a lot of anticipation from all of us, mainly about the way it was going to be received. Personally, my musical sensibilities tend more towards a kind of KBD punk style, and I’d never been a keyboard player before, it felt really exposing to feel so far away from that.
Katy: I also don’t really remember, but I feel like we’ve changed quite a bit since then and hopefully play with more fluency, sonic focus (minimalism) and style(maximalism).
Tamsin: It’s weird, when we’re in the practice room, and all the amps are facing me, I feel absolutely in love with our music. Then when we play live and I’m stuck behind the direction of sound, everything can sound thin and disjointed and I can start thinking that we sound like the weirdest band out there and that the audience is just going to be standing there going, huh? I felt like that the first show and I quite often still feel like that today, at least for the first couple of songs. Then I get over it and fall in love with us all over again.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
Maria: Well we don’t just play music, there’s a few visual artists in the bunch too! But I think for us a musical outlet is very important. The release and gratification you get from making music is very different to other artforms in my opinion. You can lose yourself within it in a different way, the way it’s also a time based artform makes that interesting and every performance of a song will be slightly different. It can be very cathartic.
Flora: As a neurodiverse person, with ADHD, music has been a key outlet in my life. At first socially, as a teenager who found social interaction incredibly complex, then creatively from my late 20s onwards when I participated in a project called First Timers. At that point I had resigned myself to the creative limitations a constant sense of overwhelm left me in, but being in a group creating music was so different. The labour was shared and I was pulled through the creative process. Music didn’t have the constraints of language: it was so immediate in the production but felt so honest in the expression, unlike words I was able to play a note without wondering the 100 other things I could have done. The structure of playing with others stops you from being subjugated by your own ego.
Katy: I am also dyspraxic and I have wondered if this has informed the sound of Es. I recently qualified as an Art Psychotherapist and am trying to figure out where I can fit within that madness. I also studied ‘fine art’ and painting when I was younger. I approach making music using the same parts of my brain I think. I am only recently fully accepting that I have to make art or music to feel at home with myself and ‘in the world’, however difficult that may be to negotiate practically in London! I find it incredibly useful as an outlet and means of collaborating/socialising and it’s probably worth mentioning that we all play in various projects around Es as well. I think music is incredibly powerful and is more accessible in the sense that you don’t need to explain what it is and there’s so much freedom in what you can do within the limitations of a 3 minute song. I think music can be ‘art’ and is an excellent transmitter and can be much more immediately gratifying.
Tamsin: Yep, I think it’s weird to assume that if you make music you’re choosing that over any other form of expression. I do think getting four people together in a room and writing the way that we write, though, which is as four interlocking pieces, is some kind of magic.
FTR: What can people expect from the Es live show?
A very intense bass – both in appearance and sound. Propelling all consuming drumming. Ethereal aquatic keyboards. Shouting, jumping, staring, glaring.
FTR: What’s next for Es?
We are currently plotting a European tour as well as some dates across the UK around our full time jobs… And of course our debut album is out April 3rd on Upset The Rhythm. Due to members living outside London at various times it’s been a long time coming, but we’re so happy that it’s coming out on UTR.
They Listen To…
Katy: Chris & Cosey – Dancing on Your Grave
Maria: The Moffs – Another Day in the Sun
Tamsin: Da! – Dark Rooms
Flora: Public Image LTD – No Birds
Collective song: Kleenex/Lilliput – Hitchhike
Less Of Everything is out April 3rd via Upset The Rhythm. Click HERE for more information on Es.