Boise, Idaho has become a flourishing home for independent art and artists from the Pacific Northwest and Mountain West over the last decade. Calling Boise home, from Snoqualmie, Washington and by way of Austin, Texas, McKenna Esteb expands in the influences of Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Amy Winehouse while blending soul with pops of funk. She recently released her debut EP Moving (On) and quickly grabbed the attention of music lovers.
Now, having released her second music video “About You” we caught up with McKenna Esteb to gain a better picture on why this video is significant and what makes the story she’s created.
Nanobot Rock: We had the pleasure of catching up with you at Treefort Music Fest 9 in September and after the recording stopped we chatted a little about your amazing EP and your second music video which is for your track “About You.” Now, you’ve released the video to the world and all the cards are on the table. Let’s pull back the curtain and get straight to it, this is a very significant step for you, can you explain the importance of this video?
McKenna Esteb: This video is my way of coming out to the world as bisexual. Over the past 2 years I’ve come out to close friends and immediate family and I’ve gotten to a place where I’m ready to be fully out to the world. Considering how I’ve approached my career as a musician, it’s pretty public and will be the more I grow in my career. And because of that it’s always been very important to me that my support of the LGBTQ+ community is public and shown through my work from the start of my career.
Nanobot: You say “‘About You’ follows the story of love and heart break. It portrays the internal battles with the rights and wrongs of break ups, the yearning of wanting to get over someone but not being ready to fully let go.” Is this a specific “someone” or are you pleading the Alanis Morissette “You Oughta Know” and leaving it open to interpretation?
McKenna: (laughs) Kinda both, but I think I’m gonna pull an Alanis Morissette on this one.
Nanobot: Contrary to the track found in your first video, “My Heart,” the tone of “About You” is a much more sobering, reflective sense, lacking the funk, leaning heavily on the piano, almost simplistic foundation to drive a beautiful message. On one hand it feels very cathartic, but without celebration or a sense of freedom. How did you approach the songwriting and why this track to share your very personal message with the world?
McKenna: That’s a really great question. And something I also thought about…like damn this is a sad song to come out to (laughs). The song itself is not about coming out but it is about my experience with past relationships. The entirety of Moving (On) was mostly inspired from a banger of a break up I went through back in 2019. I picked “About You” because it was just one of the most heartfelt tunes I’d ever written and felt the most tied to from this EP.
Once the EP was out it was time to start thinking about how I wanted to promote it through music videos. And at this point 2 years had passed since this break up and to be honest, I was just sick of my content still being about this person in particular because I’ve moved on and so much has happened in my life since then. Although I’m very grateful for the music that came from this experience and what that break up taught me about myself.
I also started to really allow myself to explore my sexuality after that break up. So, by the time it was time to shoot a video for this song I felt like a very different person and now had new stories to share. And “About You” felt general enough that anyone could really relate to it so when I was writing the plot of the video I was like, huh, a fun spin would be to make this about a girl even though it was originally written about my break up with a boy back in 2019. So, in a way I got to rewrite the narrative of this story which was healing for me and also a really fun way to share a new side of myself with the world creatively through content that was already out. So even though it was originally inspired by a different break up I got to create something beautiful out of it and share a story that a lot of people can relate to but in a way that felt special to me rather than dragging out the same narrative.
Nanobot: For the video you worked with Adam Wright of Daymoon Films who has done videos for Sun Blood Stories, Angel Abaya, and Treefort Music Fest and others here in Boise. I know you’ve got a finger on the pulse of the local, growing music scene and it is important to you. Was the collaboration with Daymoon purposeful from the outset or was it a coming together of artistic vision?
McKenna: When I got back into town I asked Angel who shot her Gelli music video and she referred me to Adam. I had never really written my own story for a video but for “About You” I had a very clear vision that I pitched to him over coffee and he received all my ideas enthusiastically and made it clear that my ideas were achievable and how we’d be able to do them. I felt very seen. He’s super easy going. It was a good match. He creates really beautiful stuff and I’m grateful we got to work together on this project.
McKenna Esteb released the video to “About You” on December 3, 2021 and her EP Moving (On) is out now.