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Life & Work with Esabalu

Today we’d like to introduce you to Esabalu.

Hi Esabalu, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
My name, Esabalu, is a tribute to my grandmother and her legacy in Kenya. Although I have been creating music since childhood, this particular journey began in 2020 with the release of my summer single, “Wildfire.” This throwback jam, reminiscent of Sade and Whitney Houston’s early work with a modern day twist, was co-written with Eric Penn and Brandon Jhon (who also produced the project.) Since my debut release, I have fallen back into my groove of introspective songs about unrequited love with the release of “Dream You,” an ethereal and moody guitar driven song that toes the line between beauty and pain. In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, among countless other Black Americans, I also released “Say Their Names” in a time when it felt almost criminal to stay silent.

These releases sparked interest from the ad world, and my voice was featured in two Ulta campaigns and a Google ad, among others, which has catapulted my ability to execute vocal contracting work from home during lockdown and beyond.

Ulta – Where Our Dreams Begin: https://youtu.be/MR1prgUWRIw

Ulta – MUSE: https://youtu.be/wjGg39m6ulc

Google: https://www.facebook.com/Google/videos/888088551914887/

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Looking back now, I realize that I am always where I need to be. That is not to say that the road has been easy, however, every step of my journey has given me at least one lesson. I always gain some knowledge to help me understand why I endured uncomfortable or trying situations. My past has given me the perspective I need to fully enjoy my present success, and the foresight to understand what I need to succeed in the future. Some of these past experiences include singing on cruise ships in order to build vocal stamina and stage presence. I was also a server in Times Square, waiting on people ten blocks away from 30 Rockefeller Plaza where, years later, I would sing background vocals for Saturday Night Live (backing 2018 album of the year winner Kacey Musgraves). Some may consider me the underdog—someone who has auditioned for American Idol and The Voice countless times. Someone who never really found her niche in the theater world, or the mainstream R&B, Pop, or Soul genres, but someone who always stayed in the game in one way or another. The dive bars in my hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina where I would play open mics became the stage for my album releases. The covers I learned singing in wedding bands now make it easy for me to turnaround vocals for songs I’ve sung hundreds of times before. My recent move to LA, after eight years in Brooklyn, has made one thing clear: wherever I am is exactly where I need to be. And I’ll continue to bring my peace with me from tiny 12 foot cruise ship cabins to main stages around the world.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
My artist career has been a true journey of self-discovery. I performed for years under my given name, Jenn Mundia, and am very proud of the work that I did before Esabalu emerged. That being said, “Jenn Mundia” has an entire life outside of her music. So, funnily enough, creating Esabalu and launching this project has allowed me to immerse myself in my craft and become a truer me than I have ever been. I have spent the last year producing my debut album, “Moon,” due in Spring 2022, with collaborators from my last 15 years in the music industry. It will feature strings from the acclaimed Little Kruta orchestra, horns arranged by Brian Plautz, and visuals to complement the collection of work.

In a time when many were scouring the Internet for mics and home recording setups, I had a home studio ready to go that had actually become stagnant for the better part of a year from a home renovation project. Early in 2019, I bought a desk, pulled the plug on a Universal Audio interface and SM7, and just kind of stared at it for a while. When the pandemic hit, I had everything I needed, aside from a good chair, that I would later purchase to help when I was comping vocals and editing late into the night. I dusted off my undergraduate degree in audio engineering from Berklee College of Music and got to work.

Alright, so to wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Check out bit.ly/esabalu to get a free single from the upcoming project and to stay up to date on the forthcoming album, “Moon” and any other news on singles, music videos, and performances!

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Image Credits:

All photography by Jeyhoun Allebaugh

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