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Rave Revolution: Estella Boersma

“All the women I know in the industry are the most kick-ass women I have ever met”

Estella Boersma radiates the energy we are all craving! A powerhouse of music, the DJ and producer first caught our eye when featured on Berlin’s infamous station HÖR. Since then, it’s safe to say, we haven’t been able to look away! From modeling to illustration to music production – Boersma is on a mission, and after surging on the scene during the age of lockdown, it’s clear – nothing is holding her back. We spoke with the multifaceted creative about her genre-spanning passions, alongside her latest release Multipass. 

Hi Estella, congrats on your first release Multipass! Could you tell us more about the process and inspiration behind this single?

Thank you! It has absolutely been a crazy journey and I am so excited my first EP Multipass has found its way into the world. Multipass released as a single, ahead of the full EP on the amazing Unknown To The Unknown’s Dance Trax vol.32. It’s a track where I found inspiration from many different places. I grew up with a lot of old-school dance music because of my parents, and this always stuck to me. I feel like this track especially came to life when shooting the video, shot by Jorge Menjivar, where we drew inspiration from 90’s rave, anime, the fifth element and much more. The visuals and sound combined together created a whole journey and story for the track itself, tied to a beginning and an end.

In light of this latest release, we can’t help but reflect! When was it you started DJing, and what inspired this creative outlet?

I actually started producing before I ever touched a mixer or a record player. I have always loved music, but after going out for the very first time a couple of years ago, I felt like I just connected with electronic music. The first time I went out was in the De School in Amsterdam, which is now unfortunately closed. After having many great nights and meeting different people, a good friend showed me a modular set-up and I fell in love with the idea of modifying sound in a way I wasn’t aware of before. I bought my first synthesizer, built my home studio, and just started making music. It felt like I finally found an outlet that felt natural and connected directly with my creative flow. About a year after, I moved to New York. That was the place where I learned how to play music. It’s a crazy city that pushes you to the limit, and it was there I picked up DJing. It has been a crazy trip, and now that my first EP has been released, I feel like it’s all coming to life (even in these strange times).

 

As a DJ living in Berlin – THE techno capital of Europe – how has this scene influenced your music and your life as an artist?

I moved to Berlin just when the lockdown started, so I couldn’t unfortunately experience the music scene like I was used to over the past year. We have to hold on tight and have patience, and as frustrating as it is, that’s okay. Even though it was strange moving here during this time, Berlin has a sense of freedom like no other city. It makes you feel at ease and gives you some time for yourself, to find your focus. For me, moving here made me feel like I found a place where I could choose to go from place to place or spend the whole day in the studio where you can escape the outside world. It’s the exact opposite of New York, where everything was continuously hectic. Amsterdam will always feel like home, even if I’m not living there. Yet, at this moment in my life, I feel freer in Berlin, where I can move around at my own pace and feel at ease.

If there’s anything a place taught me, it would be that musically I feel like there’s no limit in genres or tracks to play. I absolutely love to play breaks, techno, 90s rave, and electro all together in a set. It’s the variety that gives me joy, and it’s an absolute blast to change up the grooves and different kinds of tracks. You can go in every direction. I just want to tell a story with the set I play.

Absolutely! Now, it’s a pretty turbulent time to be any kind of artist. How have you been doing, one year since the start of the pandemic?

This time has been very hard on all artists, performers, and people in the creative industry. I think we were all taking some things for granted, like flying, traveling, partying… one moment to the other, this piece of freedom was taken away from us. Even though it has been a tough time, the future’s looking brighter, and we just need to have a little bit of patience so everyone can stay safe and healthy. For me, this also quite literally gave me the time and space to sit down and find my focus. Normally I was always on the road, but now I could finish upcoming projects and perfect my skills. When things reopen again, I’ll be ready and recharged!

You have modelled for big fashion names such as Dolce & Gabbana, Nina Ricci and Manohki! What initially drew you to modelling?

It’s a crazy story actually. When I was 14 years old, I got scouted when riding my bicycle on the Amsterdam canals. My current agent stopped me and asked me if I had ever modelled before. I had been scouted before, but at the time I wanted to study to become a comic book artist and didn’t specifically consider it. I decided to give it a go! Then I got an unexpected phone call from my agent, Wilma Wakker, saying I should go see a casting director that was in town. At the time I thought it wouldn’t work out, but then I received another phone call… I got booked for a Miu Miu campaign! It was absolutely mad, at 16 I shot the campaign, and it all started rolling from there. It was a very natural process and I enjoyed every bit of it thus far!

Then, once I discovered electronic music as my passion, I started to really focus on creating and playing music. The two go quite well together and being able to do both creates a real experience to go around new places, get inspired, and do what I love most. I want to share my energy with the people, and with music, I felt like it was the best way to do this!

Do you have ways of expressing your creativity as a model?

The magic of modeling is that you’re working with a whole team to create a creative outcome. To create images with everyone together feels like I can express myself and put myself into a role for a day. Depending on what the story is about, I express myself differently. There’s always an unexpected outcome of the pictures and videos, this makes the whole process even more beautiful.

 

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How does this compare to music?

With music it’s a different story. I can express myself without limitations. It’s not as much about the appearance as it is about the whole performance. What I love the most, is that playing a DJ set in front of people is the most direct way to communicate and share your craft. The possibility to share your energy directly with the people, and see an immediate reaction, now that’s magical! I am looking forward to doing this again as soon as things open up! I hope everyone stays safe and healthy until then.

You also draw and illustrate anime-esque power girls. What draws you to this art?

I’ve always been big into anime and video games. I’d spent hours playing final fantasy (I still do) or watching my favorite anime. I got so inspired by old school anime movies and shows like ‘cowboy bebop’ or ‘ghost in the shell’, which also all have incredible music. It started out just with copying what I saw. My dad gave me a ‘how to draw manga’ book when I was around 8 years old, I started to slowly learn how to draw. I started practicing almost on the daily at one point. I even wanted to become a comic book artist. This dream changed a bit after modelling, travelling around, doing acting courses and finding music. Now it’s become a bit of a meditative habit. It feels so good to put a pen on paper, create a visual and clear the mind. It creates a sense of calm which I need to focus on creating sounds and tunes again. Drawing and creating an image on a previously blank paper feels like putting missing pieces back into the place where they belong. It clears the mind and makes space to create again.

With our eyes focused on the future – where do you see yourself (as both a human and artist) the coming years?

I am hoping the future will be bright, and more positive than our current state of living during these strange times. Being a musician and performer is what I hope to be doing for the rest of my life. Expressing myself, sharing energy and feeling the music is something that won’t ever disappear. I still have a long journey to make, but I am very excited to see what the future will bring! I cannot wait to dance with you all again!

Images curtesy of Estella Boersma

Words by Brechtje Polman