INTERVIEW: Esther & Fatou




Esther & Fatou


I have been speaking with the Belgian duo of Esther & Fatou



who talk to me about their new track, Home. I ask them how they got together and what new material is coming up – they discuss working with Gaetan Vandewoude.

Esther & Fatou tell me what the scene is like in Belgium and whether they will come to the U.K. and play; whether there are new acts to watch out for; what advice they would give to fellow artists emerging – they both share a favourite musical memory.


Hi, Esther & Fatou. How are you? How has your week been?

We’re totally fine. So happy that our new track, Home, is released.

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?

We’re Esther & Fatou; a Pop/Folk duo hailing from Belgium. We’re known for singing in harmonies, often accompanied with guitars.

Can you tell me about Home and how the song came together?

We wrote Home a few years ago on a summer evening. Home is that type of song where the songwriting process went very smoothly. Everything came together very quickly.

What was it like working with Gaetan Vandewoude on the song?

A year after the writing; we decided to work on the song with Gaetan, our dear friend and producer. Although it was very clear from the beginning where we wanted to go with this song, recording it was a crazy/unforgettable ride. To us, Home became an ‘on-the-road’ song. We’re very happy that the song got released just before summer.


Home follows the wintery debut track, At Night. Do you feel yourselves exploring new ground and sounds with every release? Might there be more material before the end of 2018? What else are you working on?

When we started recording our E.P. with Gaetan; we decided to choose five songs that stand together for our identity but are not too similar to each other. We’re very happy with the result and can’t wait to release the E.P. 

It’ll be released in the fall of 2018.


How did you two meet one another? Was there an instant connection?

We live in the same, not too big city, so getting to know each other was not that difficult. It was because of Esther's boyfriend that we finally decided to come together to work on music. You know: we both liked to sing; we both liked to listen to Folk.

Belgium is where you are based. Is there a varied and promising music scene where you are?

We both live in Leuven and are very familiar with Het Depot, one of Belgium’s finest and most beautiful venues. Het Depot is like our second home for the last eight years. We met a lot of musicians and like-minded people at Het Depot, but also discovered an incredible amount of new musical talents. For us, a place like the Depot has been very important. We not only have our rehearsal space there but also made friends for life also made friends for life. At Het Depot, we philosophized long nights about life and music and... 


Have you performed in the U.K. at all? Might we see you here?

We have never performed in the U.K. Of course, we would love to play some venues there!

 What do you hope to achieve in 2018?

We finished recording our E.P. two years ago so we’re writing new songs, probably for a full album. Gaetan is also excited to dive into the studio again, so we’ll start recording again soon. Of course, we hope to play some nice venues in Belgium and, hopefully, outside our little country (smiles).


Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?

Esther: I remember discovering The Beatles. It was because of my brother. When I dove into their songs, I was immediately hit by the way they sing in harmonies and the way the construct their songs. The record, Revolver, is my all-time favourite record of The Beatles. For me, discovering The Beatles was the very starting point of the music I’m listening to right now - and the music we’re making.

Fatou: The times I discovered Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan or more recent music like Bon Iver; I was stunned by the power of one voice and some beautiful guitar picking. It really got me through puberty but still hits me every time I listen to it. It’s also a good reminder that less is often more.


If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?

Definitely, Paul McCartney!

On the rider: a good bottle of red wine to share with Paul while talking about music all-night-long (smiles).

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Such a cliché, however, so true: try to stick to your own sound. Avoid trying to look too much like someone you like. We’ve been searching for our own sound for years and we’re still exploring but that’s the best part of the whole road. We feel like – because we took our time – our music is becoming more and more like ‘us’.


 IN THIS PHOTO: Anna Tivel

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Esther: If you’re into the new Folk scene you should surely check out Anna Tivel, Siv Jakobsen and Phoebe Bridgers. Also, the debut record from LUMP - a collaboration between Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay of Tunng - is a treat.



Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

Erase & Detach Isbells

We picked a Belgian song! This is a song from Isbells; the band of our dear friend and producer Gaetan Vandewoude. Before we met, we saw Isbells playing this song and we got totally blown away. We were like: ‘We want to work with that man!’. Sometimes, dreams come true (smiles).


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