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Folly Beach, SC | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Folly Beach, SC | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Solo Electronic Chillwave


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"On The Record: Estee"

Hey Estee, tell our readers something about yourself that they might not know otherwise.

I grew up on Folly Beach, South Carolina, which is kind of this hippie beach town in the middle of the South. Lots of transplants from other areas and lots of partying. I think the natural inclination is to think of a beach in the South as this stereotype of coastal southern culture but this beach is very different. There’s a surf community and a skate community and it’s way more Venice Beach than Myrtle Beach. As with everything in life there is always a flip side and there are all of these juxtapositions and this push and pull of opposites. In the summer its hot as f**k and sunny and CROWDED. And then in the winter its grey and peaceful and lonely and so beautiful.
Like many artists, I associate the sounds and moods of my songs with colours. I also begin envisioning the music videos for each song almost immediately upon beginning the writing process. It shouldn’t be work to get those visuals churning, it should just happen. A lyric doesn’t make the cut unless is prompts a visual. The colours I see, the treatments I’ve written for the music videos, and a lot of the sounds colouring the album evoke thoughts of the ocean or reference bodies of water. I realised that so much of my new album is coloured by the deeply rooted influence of being surrounded by the water, whether the subject matter is pleasant or morose.
Some of them have the stark loneliness emblematic of those grey winter days and then others feel like green waves crashing in front of a warm summer sunset. It’s interesting because I have read of other artists who have grown up in areas like Arizona and Nevada say that they feel like the landscape of their surroundings have influenced their sound and you can almost hear the desert when you listen to their music. I didn’t realize it until we were halfway through the album but the landscape of my surroundings has greatly influenced the sound of my music and you can hear that on my upcoming album.

How did the new single evolve in the studio?

We recorded Blind two years ago in a storage space in downtown Charleston. It was this amazing space that was kind of hidden in the middle of the city and a lot of amazing projects had been recorded there so there was a lot of creative energy kind of downloaded into this space. And there were always a ton of musicians coming in and out of the studio. When I came in to start the upcoming album I came in with a batch of songs and some half-songs that I had been working on for at least a year and I just played through so my producer, Wolfgang, could pick one that he was vibing with. But I had this song that I had just written a few days before and I was so excited about it.
There’s this joke amongst songwriters that we always think the last song we wrote is the best thing we’ve ever done and a lot of the time it’s not that great and it’s just the excitement of the newness of it. But there was just a lot of energy flowing towards this song and I felt really inspired so I pushed for us to start with my newest song and we rolled with it and that song ended up becoming Blind. It was fully arranged when I came in but the lyrics needed work so Wolfgang pushed me to dig deeper and kept pushing me until I came up with something that we were proud to record. I think I was scratching the surface and I was scared to dig really deep and be completely candid. Once I did though, I felt so liberated. That experience set the bar for the rest of the writing process and changed me as a writer forever.
The musical composition is mostly Wolfgang and I but we did have some help from some really great musicians – Corey Campbell (who plays in the bands SUSTO and Babe Club) and Bo Farish who played in a band with me for a few years prior to starting this project. Bo played a lot of the atmospheric guitar you hear on the track as well as the lead guitar which was inspired by Sweetest Taboo by Sade and Corey added bass and some atmospheric guitar sounds as well. It’s interesting because it’s not often that the first song you record for a project ends up making the finished album, much less becoming the first single, but this song came together really quickly and made us really excited about the rest of the album. It has been the song that has kind of grounded us and pushed us in a certain direction sound-wise throughout the process of recording. And we have been sitting on it for a long time so of course we are excited to get it out there and let people hear it.

What does it draw on, in terms of subject matter?

Blind is about the universe aligning to create a circumstance that feels destined. It’s about the concept of fate and what it might feel like to find a soulmate. I believe that soulmates come into our lives to teach us lessons and that, while we have free will and power to manifest things in our lives, every person that enters our lives is there for a reason. Sometimes only for a season. This song is about when the stars align to bring two people together. There’s a line in the chorus that says “I can’t hide from all the stars surrounding.” Sometimes we can’t deny what the Universe places in front of us.
Blind is also about submitting yourself completely to another person – maybe in some circumstances to a point of it being unhealthy and maybe in others it’s lovely and beautiful and true. It’s about the circle of life, learning how to love, and treating this person with the utmost care and protection. I want people to hear Blind and make their own personal connection with it. Maybe it reminds them of a past love, maybe it makes them excited for the future, or maybe it relates to the love they are experiencing now.

Is it the direction you feel you’ll be taking with subsequent releases?

Blind is definitely representative of the direction of the upcoming album. It grounds the album because it has synth elements, it has some very 80’s guitar parts, and then it has guitars and live drums and some almost indie rock elements. Some of the songs on my new album have more guitars than others, there is a whole batch that are very 80’s R&B, and all of them have lots of synth and a mix of electronic percussion and live drums. You will definitely hear the new album go much further into the synth-R&B direction than this release but this first single is a great introduction to the new album. When I started recording this album I was just beginning a journey to leave an abusive relationship and that led me to start slowly connecting with my spirituality. The result ended up being a lot of references to the ocean and the cosmos on this song and much of the upcoming album.

What’s next for Estee?

The Blind single release will be followed by an official video in a few weeks. A follow-up single will arrive sometime in October. Then we’ll be gearing up for the album release at the start of the year and a subsequent tour in support of the album. There are also a few collaborations brewing with other artists. And you can expect at least two EPs following the full-length release next year – one of which will be a B-Sides release of the songs that didn’t make the album. - Unrecorded

"Estee is tranquil and chill on new single, "High""

Estee Gabay first wowed us in 2014 with her radio-ready pop single "Smile Pretty," but the singer, now simply Estee, has entered into a more sensual, downtempo space, as is evidenced by the singer-songwriter's latest chillwave, dream-pop single, "High."

Off her new, upcoming album In the Dream, "High" is about falling in love again for the first time after a life-altering experience. "This person helped me to trust others and myself again, to heal and dream again. It was like the dawn finally came after years of night," she says. "'High' was written from a place of falling in love with the world again. It is about being connected to everything around us, about becoming whole in oneself, and being fulfilled by giving love and light away."

The video for the track, out today, was filmed by Drew Gardner and edited by Stephen Massar. The song features guitar from Big Yen's James Frolio and harmonies by Regina Ferguson. It was recorded at Rialto Row with producer Wolfgang Zimmerman and mastered by Jeremy Lubsey at Vlado Meller Mastering.

Listen to the dreamlike "High" harmonies now on all major music platforms. - Charleston City Paper

"Estee Releases New Single "Blind""

Estee has released the first single off of her full length album that will debut early next year. ‘Blind’ is a song about ” the universe aligning to create a circumstance that feels destined. It’s about the circle of life, the aligning of the elements, the force that keeps everything moving. It’s about love and allowing yourself to submit completely to another being; about finding a soulmate.” We caught up with Estee to talk more about her release of ‘Blind’ and her up and coming album release.

When will your album be released?
EG: The Album will be released in early 2018. We are shooting for January but no later than February for sure. We will have at least one more single release with a video prior to the album release.

Have you released music before?
EG: It has been awhile since I released new music. I spent a lot of time writing this album and then a little over two years now recording it and letting it grow with me. My first release was an EP called Green in 2012, also produced by Wolfy (Zimmerman). At that time I was writing and performing as a solo acoustic artist. Very singer-songwriterish, and I hadn’t explored what kind of sounds I liked yet. That was my first venture into experimenting in the studio and you hear that I was trying to find my voice because the sound changes drastically from song to song. It was mostly very straightforward pop and I was very fortunate to have Wolfy’s guidance at the early stage. I learned a lot and it helped to inform my writing moving forward. Then in 2015 I released a song called “Down”. That was kind of a transitional release and it felt more natural to me than the acoustic-driven pop I was putting out before. I started using this children’s Casio keyboard to write my basic chord progression so I could move away from the guitar rhythms I had gotten comfortable with. The keyboard gave me a very simple foundations and rhythm-wise a very clean slate so I could experiment with syncopating my melodies. I finally started to feel like the songs sounded like me, which is something I had spent a lot of time struggling to pinpoint exactly.

You’ve worked with some well known people in the Charleston music scene and in the SC music industry as a whole on this song. Does that continue throughout the album and album art?
EG: When we came into the studio the first time to start work on the new album I had a bunch of songs and half-songs, ideas and melodies that had been with me for at least a year already but I had just written Blind a few days before and I was excited about it. There was a lot of energy flowing there and through this entire process. ‘Blind’ has been the track that has kind of grounded us and focused us in a certain direction. Then we got Bo in and he did a lot of the guitar you hear on the track. He was playing with me in my band for a few years so we just had that musical connection where I could sing him a riff or just give him a reference and he would be able to find it and play it. Then Corey came in and laid down the bass and some more atmospheric guitar stuff. Corey actually worked on a couple of the songs in the early stage of recording so you will hear him more. There is a quick feature by Ross Bogan (The Movement, White/Bogan Duo), some guitar work by James Frolio (Big Yen) and the background vocals on several of the tracks from Regina Ferguson. When you’re in the studio like that, where people are coming in and out all the time and dropping in to hang sometimes these collaborations feel like a gift from the heavens or the universe. You have all of these chance opportunities to have extremely talented musicians bless your work.
It’s a similar feeling with the art. Wolfy suggested I check Nikki’s work out and so I did and we had a meeting. After meeting with her I knew it was going to be perfect. She is very in touch with her spirituality and she just got what I was going for and found way to visually represent the concept of fate. Even the colors she chose. Those are the colors I see when I listen to the song. I couldn’t think of anyone better to interpret the songs on this album and put these into visual form. So there will me more cover art from her moving forward starting with the singles.

Will the rest of the album be produced/mixed by Zimmerman?
EG: The entire album is produced by Wolfy and about 3-4 of the songs are actually co-writes with him. He pushed me to re-work most of my lyrics and dig deeper. That was a theme early on and we were spending a lot time and hours every session with me just writing lyrics while he spent time mixing or laying down drums. I think that I was just scratching the surface before and I was afraid to say some of the things I was feeling and thinking and scared of and insecure about. He pushed me to peon that up and share that vulnerability and made me realize in the process what a privilege it is to write songs and to even have the opportunity to share your own experience. So eventually it changed me as a writer. We’re still finishing the album up and probably will be until the very last-minute. Lately we’ve been writing together and starting from scratch. We spend so much time going through different keyboards and finding sounds. In the beginning we were searching for that sound and now we just both kind of know when we hear it. I feel like with music and collaboration you have to spend time getting the energy right. Wolf and I spend the first hour of every session just catching up on life and talking about where we each are spiritually and emotionally. It’s palpable but revealing your truths is often a very nerve-wracking experience. You have to be able to settle into your vulnerability and it is liberating when you reach that level of comfort with someone. I know Wolf will never judge me. He will only push me to make the songs the best they can be and that’s the best collaborative and creative situation one could have. You can hear a distinction between the songs I came in with and the songs he and I wrote together. That collaboration has created kind of its own sound on the album.

What/who has been the biggest inspiration behind your up and coming album? Where do you want your music to go?
EG: Because I have been writing and recording this album for years now the scope of its subject matter is broad. There are songs about finding myself spiritually, songs about making sense of my place as just one person in the vastness of the multi-verse and songs about love. There are songs ab out finding my confidence and manifesting my dreams. There are songs about fighting through fear. I was in a very abusive relationship for several years and I was struggling with profound anxiety and panic attacks. I was hiding. There were a few years were I felt like I was just existing and just trying to make it to the next day. When I found the strength to pull myself out of that situation I went through a deep transformation. I started to delve deeper into my spirituality. Slowly my fears started to fall away from me and my anxiety started to hear. It taught me the importance of being authentic. I hope the coming album can help anyone who may be struggling with their own self love. - Scene SC

"Enchanting New Music Video by Estee"

"High" was originally recorded with Wolfgang Zimmerman at the Space in 2016. "High" is the second single from Estee's upcoming album, In the Dream. It features guitar from James Frolio (Big Yen) and harmonies from Regina Ferguson. The rest of the production was handled by Estee, mixed by Wolfgang Zimmerman at Rialto Row and mastered by Jeremy Lubsey at Vlado Meller Mastering. The cover art is by, Nikki Scioscia, who is doing all of the artwork for this album.

"When I wrote 'High' I was falling in love again for the first time since a life-altering experience. This person helped me to trust others and myself again, to heal and dream again. 'High' was written from a place of falling in love with the world again. It is about being connected to everything around us, about becoming whole in oneself, and being fulfilled by giving love and light away." - Estee Gabay - 9 to 5 Magazine

"Estee - Down"

Charleston-based R&B artist Estee says she has finally discovered her sound; “sophisti-pop, if you will”. And with the recent transformation, Estee has proudly released her latest single “Down”, alongside with the accompanying music video.

Dense, synthetic textures combine with her glossy, naturally seductive voice to create a synthesizer-based, future-R&B track.

Drenched in shadows, and dark corners, the music video has Estee being driven around down in a 1962 Cadillac Coupe de Ville by a mysterious chauffeur. Between the video’s symbolism and the track’s melodramatic sound, the two go hand-in-hand and connect on an expertly crafted level. - Kane Wilkinson, Dusty Organ

"Estee Gabay unveils "Down""

Estee Gabay has a new video, sound, and stage name.

Now going by simply “Estee,” the local indie-R&B artist released a video yesterday for the new single “Down.” Unlike the youthful-but-clever pop of her first album Green, “Down” demonstrates a more soulful sound.

“I’m moving towards a more adult-oriented, R&B sound and I’m getting better at infusing synthetic and organic elements in a more sophisticated way,” she says .“I feel like I have found my sound; sophisti-pop, if you will.”

Mastered by local Grammy Award-winning audio mastering engineer Vlado Meller (Kanye West, Michael Jackson, George Michael, and more), the single’s release is accompanied by a video created by the new local creative firm, The Royal Wild.

You can watch the video on YouTube, while “Down” can be heard Soundcloud and purchased on Bandcamp. - Kelly Rae Smith, Charleston City Paper

"Who to see at BandSwap"

Winner of BandSwap's Singer-Songwriter category, indie-pop artist Gabay impressed the judges with her ace songwriting abilities. Her first EP Green features smart pop songs with fun hooks, and her follow-up collection is slightly darker and a little more grown-up. Gabay likens her new style to Fiona Apple but with a hip-hop flair. To see and hear what we love about Gabay, check out her single "Smile Pretty," an upbeat, clever, and catchy tune that's also sweet and sentimental as it's about her stepdad's battle with cancer. "That has always been one of the most inspiring things in my life," Gabay says about her stepdad in a recently released video performance. "He always has a great attitude, is motivated, and is grateful for every day." —KRS - Kelly Rae Smith, Charleston City Paper

"BandSwap gives local artists an opportunity to win a free trip, paying gigs, and priceless exposure"

Last month, This is Noteworthy, an educational initiative created for musicians, helped bring BandSwap, a national music competition, to Charleston. The competition gives local musicians the chance to a win an all-expenses-paid trip to BandSwap's host city in Fort Collins, Colo. for a homecoming show, plus paid gigs in the area with like-minded bands.

BandSwap works like a music exchange program. Bands from participating cities like Charleston, Milwaukee, Memphis, Portland, and Athens will switch places with their musical counterpart from Fort Collins for a week this fall, thus sharing fanbases and resources, building connections, and extending their musical networks. BandSwap is also meant to be a nurturing, learning experience. "It takes drive, dedication, and determination not only to the craft of making music, but also to the business side of booking, negotiating, and marketing the product to create the most valuable market position," says Becca Finley, executive director of Charleston's This Is Noteworthy. "We wanted to create a safe, fun, and professional space to educate and arm musicians with tools and guidelines that will help them with forward momentum in a tough industry."

Nearly 30 Charleston bands competed to win in five musical categories. The finalists performed privately in front of a panel of industry professionals last week, and the winner of the five is set to be announced at the Piccolo Spoleto finale on June 7 in Hampton Park. In the meantime, give it up for the final five BandSwap nominees.

Estee Gabay was writing little ditties by the time she was in the second grade, and those songs were focused on some pretty serious subject matter for a seven-year-old. "Pom poms over here/ Pom poms over there/ Pom poms in the air/ Pom poms everywhere," Gabay remembers. The now-24-year-old stayed busy writing and submitting poems for publication until she got her first guitar at age 17 and started putting her poetry to music. "So I recorded my first demo at 13," she says, "but when I started playing guitar, I really started to write songs. I finally had an instrument where I could remember my songs, and I didn't have to get a little recorder so I could remember the melody." She built her confidence by posting her own songs to YouTube before she made her first EP, Green, in 2012 with local producer Wolfgang Ryan Zimmerman. The album is an alt-pop gem with songs like "Smile Pretty," a tune that's a prime example of pop songwriting at its greatest. But Gabay's been writing new material, and these are a little different. "One of the tracks is 'I'm Down.' These songs are a little darker," she says. "There's one on my first album called 'Taste the Night,' and that was a little darker, kind of Fiona Apple-ish, and these new ones are in that vein but with a hip-hop flair." - Kelly Rae Smith, Charleston City Paper


"The most remarkable creatures of the evening, however, were Estee Gabay and her band. We’d never heard Gabay before that night, but were immediately mesmerized by her stage presence and voice." - Erin Perkins, Charleston City Paper

"CD Review: Estee Gabay"

[Estee's] debut Green sways from contemporary electronic pop to acoustic guitar-driven alternative rock with relative ease. The young songwriter’s six-song collection bridges elements of classic soul, early-’90s rock diva action, and bits of modern underground pop. Some tunes are straightforward and melodic. Others feature left-field arrangements and a Euro-pop veneer.

Gabay spent most of 2012 working on arrangements and tracks with local musician and studio engineer Ryan Zimmerman (of Brave Baby) at Zimmerman’s home studio the Space. Their time and effort paid off well as none of Green comes off as a homemade demo or low-budget EP.

The spare, whispery, acoustic guitar-based “Taste The Night” sways with an exotically syncopated rhythm. Congas and cymbals complement the slinky snare drum downbeats. Gabay has plenty of space to explore her range, holding and bending notes along the way. The uptempo “Girl Like Me” follows with a sloppy country drum beat underneath Gabay’s emotive singing. Gabay pulls a few soul singer tricks out of her arsenal vocal stylings, aiming for lovefool sexiness. She sounds convincingly heartbroken and anguished on the softer acoustic ballad “You Lied.”

Gabay’s vocal acrobatics can sometime be over-the-top, and the some of the more fiery runs seem slightly forced, but her delivery is strong and sincere throughout most of Green. Unaffected, her voice is sturdy enough to carry a melody without too many extra fireworks.

If the guitar-based songs seem more personal and innocent, the two standout synth-based tracks depict a lustier charm. The hip-hop-in-space synth intro of “Smile Pretty” switched gears completely. As far as modern Top 40 radio goes, this is the real gem in the collection. The airy, smooth-grooving “Hold Me Close.” One of serene love songs on the album, this one has more depth and feeling than some of the rest.

Stylistically, Green comes full-circle on the delicate closer “Sing,” which lilts with powdery guitar chords, shakers, and accented drums. Gabay belts it out with a little bit of rapper bravado and a plenty of righteous babe tones.

Overall, Green is an impressive and confident first step for an eager up-and-comer. A smartly produced, well-crafted, mature piece of work like this could help launch Gabay into more ambitious things. - Ballard Lesemann, Metronome Charleston


Green EP - 2012

  1. Taste the Night
  2. A Girl Like Me
  3. Smile Pretty
  4. Hold Me Close
  5. You Lied
  6. Sing

Down Single - 2015

Blind Single - 2017

High Single - 2018

Nature Single - 2018

In The Dream LP - coming in January 2019



Estee is an alternative/pop/chillwave artist from Folly Beach, SC. Pulling musical inspiration from 80's synth-R&B, downtempo, dream pop, dark wave, soft rock, and baroque pop, her influences have ranged from Sade to Fiona Apple, and sometimes draw comparisons to artists like Little Dragon and Tei Shi. 2012 saw the release of her debut, a six-song EP called Green, with subject matter hopping back and forth between earnest idealism and love lost, and musical styling shifting on each track. The tracks "Smile Pretty" and "Taste the Night" received some modest radio play on several independent and college stations in North Carolina and South Carolina. In 2015, Estee released "Down", a new single with an accompanying music video. The song was a collaboration with former bandmate Julie Slonecki and a transition to a more alternative sound. Later that year, production began on Estee's sophomore album with longtime collaborator and producer Wolfgang Zimmerman (Band of Horses, SUSTO, She Returns from War). In late 2017 and early 2018, Estee released two singles, the lead single "Blind" and the tranquil "High" with a desert-goddess themed music video, a departure from previous releases and a taste of the matured, dreamy sound to come on the upcoming album. The third single to proceed the album "Nature", an 80's tinged ode to first love, is available everywhere in September. Estee's first full-length album, In the Dream, is primed to arrive in early 2020. 

Band Members