The social media sensation talks us through her TikTok fame and how she keeps classical music current.
After the tumultuous year we’ve had, it’s understandable that we might be looking to calm the senses and soothe the soul – and Esther Abrami’s latest classical single is doing it for us. Backed by a melodic piano production, the violinist expertly shows off her skills on the production, capturing every bit of emotion and interlacing it with her crisp smooth sailing sound. Inspired by her furry pet cat Ravel, Esther accompanies the release with an adorable animated video that pays homage to her companion, as he would always try and get involved in the creative process.
“With one of my rescue kittens in particular, I created a really special bond. I named him Ravel since he loved being with me when I played the violin, which can be for several hours a day. He used to jump or climb on me, trying by any means possible to get closer to the violin. This video is inspired by his antics,” Esther candidly said to us.
Recorded alongside pianist Iyad Sughayer earlier this year at The Stoller Hall in Manchester, Ester revealed that she intentionally chose music by French composer Maurice Ravel for the release, stating that she always had an affection for French composers and that adding her own voice to the timeless classic was something she always wanted to do. While classical music has historically been an ivory tower institution, Esther is keeping it ever-popular on TikTok, introducing her 278k loyal followers to helpful techniques and self-taught covers. With the artist already being recognised for being one of the most promising classical music artists of her generation, we caught up with Esther talking her TikTok fame, keeping classical music current, and how she first learnt to play the violin.
Check out the interview below now…
Hey Esther! We’re almost halfway through the year, how has it been?
It has been a difficult year for so many people, including musicians so I feel especially lucky to have an online community on social media which allows me to still be able to share my music and to feel connected. Despite the lockdown, I must admit that this year has been surprisingly busy though, between recording for my forthcoming album and working towards my master’s degree, so the time has flown by!
How did you first get into music? What is your earliest memory?
My grandmother was a violinist and she introduced me to the violin when I was about 3 years old. Her deep love of music was so inspiring. One of my earliest memories is of my first live ‘performance’. It was just a small school class recital for parents and I was only about ten years old, but I remember being very serious about it all! I still remember the feeling I got when playing – I was so completely into the music and it felt as if time had stopped. I remember feeling at one with my violin, even though I was just playing a simple little tune. At that moment though I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. I just knew I was going to be a violinist and I have never looked back!
You studied at the Royal College of Music, what was this experience like?
It was a very enriching experience. These were probably the years of my life where I learnt the most about myself and what I really wanted to do with music. I felt honoured to be part of such a prestigious school and to have access to such great musical resources. I also made lots of good friends there and some often join me in various projects to this day. Since then I have also taken positive steps to learn about the business and finance side of the music industry in order to prepare myself for my future career.
You just released your new single “Ravel Variation”, talk us through the production process?
We recorded this track in Manchester at The Stoller Hall. The concert hall is part of my old school, Chetham’s School of Music, which I attended when I was a teenager from the age of fourteen to eighteen. It was strange being back. I kept remembering myself there, freshly arrived from France and speaking only about two words of English! If somebody had told me that I would be coming back several years later to record my debut album for Sony Music Masterworks, I would have never believed it!
You were joined by Iyad Sughayer for the recording process, what was this like?
It was a lot of fun! Iyad and I have known each other for nearly 10 years now so we know each other’s playing very well. I have to admit that there were times when we would just burst into laughter, especially if anyone accidentally played a wrong note! It feels nice to be comfortable with your fellow musicians during a recording session, especially when you can laugh together at any mistakes instead of stressing about it.
The animated video is inspired by your own life, what made you want to tell your story this way?
A few followers on social media drew pictures of me with my violin and my rescue cats and this is what sparked the idea of doing an animated video for this new single.
I have always loved animation and I felt the music suited this idea particularly well – especially as one of my rescue cats is called Ravel, like the composer of this music!
What has it been like making your debut and releasing music during such a difficult time?
I am very grateful to my label, Sony Music and to my management PJPM/River Talent for helping me to make it all happen during such a difficult time.
With no concerts for over a year now, having a creative project like this has been an amazing source of motivation. Seeing all the positive reactions and extremely kind comments from people across the world about my music-making has been so touching and uplifting.
You challenge yourself to learn to play songs in just an hour, which is really intense, how difficult is this and what made you want to do this?
I always try to challenge myself in whatever I do! As a classical musician I am used to learning music from a score and I find this an easy and natural method so I recently tried to challenge myself to learn songs by ear, which is very different. I also want to push myself to improvise and compose more.
You were also the first classical musician ever nominated at the Global Awards for Social Media Superstar, what was your reaction to this?
Absolute surprise! To find my name mentioned alongside celebrities with millions of followers was definitely a shock! To know that I was the first classical musician to be nominated was huge for me. Importantly, it also shows that there is a young audience for classical music, which is wonderful!
Who would you cite as your inspirations?
My parents. I always saw them working so hard and always getting up with a smile in the morning, despite any difficulties they may have been going through. They taught me to look at my life as a journey, where going back does not mean you are regressing and that sometimes the obvious route is not the only or even the best solution. They have supported me constantly during my musical career and they sacrificed so much for me! I did not realise it fully when I was younger but now I realise that they never went on holiday because all the budget was spent on my music lessons. They used to tell me it was because they liked staying at home. So now, when I have a concert in a city around the world that I know they always wanted to visit, it is my biggest joy for me to invite them!
What’s next for you/ What are you most excited for?
The release of my debut album! It still feels surreal to have had the chance to sign with such a prestigious label and to have the chance to record my very first album. It is a real dream come true and I want to make the best of it and enjoy every moment of this wonderful experience!