Meet Esinam Dogbatse, The Ghanaian-Belgian Musician Inspired By Traditional Music

The Ghanaian-Belgian Born released her debut EP, ESINAM which gave us an insight into her eclectic musical world. She mingles traditional instruments with her warm voice and her transverse flute. The use of electronic effects allow the acoustic sounds of these instruments to evolve and take on new dimensions. Hence, ESINAM drags you along into a universe with a kaleidoscopic spectrum of sound colours.

Her music exudes a particular tension at the crossroads of past and future, darkness and light, melancholy and cheerfulness. It sometimes triggers to dance, and other times to contemplation. Echoes from the future invite you to apprehend the world through an innovative musical narrative.

ESINAM produced and played almost everything herself. Only for ‘Electric Lady’, she teamed up with Senegalese DJ & producer Ibaaku, who added some distinctive musical hues. For ‘Gavoé’, the multi-instrumentalist used Ewé chants she recorded herself in a village in Ghana. With this first EP, she wanted to reveal as much as possible about herself in order for her audience to discover an authentic and faithful image of her vast musical and graphic universe.

For the mixing of the EP, ESINAM joined forces with Jules Fradet from Studio Planet (Damso, Afrikan Prötökol, Veence Hanao and Zap Mama). For the mastering, however, she called on LA-based producer Kelly Hibbert aka Almachrome (J Dilla, Madlib, Little Dragon, Flying Lotus, Ebo Taylor, Mark de Clive-Lowe and Arca).

Esinam Ep

At an early age Esinam Dogbatse became fascinated by percussion instruments such as the ‘tama’. Piano was her first ‘true’ instrument, but for obvious practical reasons when travelling, she soon opted for the flute. Her compositions carry traces from different worlds, geographically, culturally and musically. In her live performances, she wants to preserve as much freedom as possible. By defining as little as possible in advance, she’s left with enough room for improvisation.

Esinam, Portrait, Backstage, Überjazz Festival, Hamburg, 2017

As a flutist and percussionist, she plays and played with bands the likes of Marock’in Brass, Kel Assouf, Témé Tan and Sysmo. Baloji invited her to guest on his latest record and Mélanie De Biasio booked her as a support act for her sold-out shows at Ancienne Belgique in December 2017. In April 2018, she performed the opening act on the large stage at Botanique during Les Nuits for Nakhane and Témé Tan. Both Alsarah & The Nubatones and Selah Sue are impressed with her unique musical universe and invited her to star as their support act for their sold-out concerts. In September 2018, ESINAM released her first EP with Sdban Ultra (NEWS Records), followed by a solo show at La Rotonde in Botanique (Brussels).

In her live sets ESINAM juggles with traditional instruments such as the tama, the kalimba and pandeiro which she superbly loops and blends with the sounds of her flute and her soulful voice, revealing herself as a genuine ‘one-woman band’. On stage she clearly enjoys her own musical playground. Her joy and disarming scenic presence are contagious. Some people in the audience go straight into a trance whilst others – more discrete – gently rock their bodies on the mesmerizing music. One thing is for sure: she leaves no one indifferent. ESINAM has already been noticed by some better known fellow artists such as Mélanie De Biasio, Alsarah & The Nubatones, Moses Sumney, Curtis Harding and Selah Sue, who invited her as a support act for the own shows.

“Last year, Esinam was quite a revelation for us. We listened to her first single “Electric Lady” and inevitably lost our heads to her dancy and well-rounded Afro-electro sound. That’s why we are pretty thrilled to premiere her debut EP out today. In her self-titled 4-track EP, Esinam goes far and beyond “Electric Lady”. She enriches her musical offering with an even wider perspective, including far- reaching influences (from her Ghanaian roots to Brazilian tradition and Belgian jazz) and exotic instruments like the kalimba, tama and pandeiro.” Rhythm Passport “You could call her the Belgian answer to Binkbeats.” Ness Radio “It’s a beautiful mixture, a kind of twilight atmosphere shot through with burst of radiant colour, tied down to personal matters. Deft of lyric, soft of arrangement, it’s a beguiling, poetic return, one that bodes much for the incoming release Clash Magazine

She has played several times in Accra with Dela Botri (Ghanaian flûte master) few years ago. I played at Live in Accra (alliance française) in 2017 too. She is set to release a new album next year. “For sure Ghana is one of my  inspiration! I want to come back in 2020 to do an African tour, she says”.

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