It’s rare that an artist can crack multiple scenes from the get-go. Yet 23-year-old ESPA, who splits her time between London and New York, has juggled working with everyone from New York rap trio Flatbush Zombies to London producer Shift K3Y. Her recently released debut EP, 150th and Broadway, sees her shapeshifting seamlessly through these worlds in a way that isn’t stark or off-putting.
We caught up with ESPA, while she was back in London, for a chat about 150th and Broadway, her relationships with the two cities, and the importance of creative control…
How has the reception to 150th and Broadway been?
The reception has been amazing. I’m really delighted that the music has spread in an organic way. That was always my intention, to give music as a gift to the world and have their own little journeys with it; and I guess that’s what’s happening.
Had you already built a bit of a fan base do you think from your collaborations with the Flatbush Zombies and stuff?
No, not at all. The Flatbush boys have been amazing to work with and I will continue, and very much enjoy working with them. I was always doing the odd little thing with them, and a few of their fans came over and checked out my music too, but this is a fresh venture really. I don’t think I had a fan base and now it’s still growing really. That was a great bit of exposure.
You spend a lot of time between both London and New York. Has the EP been better received by the UK or US audience?
I’d say it’s a 50/50 split to be honest, which I think is great because it definitely reflects my relationship with the cities London and New York. Since I was 18 I’ve spent a lot of months of the year in New York, and that’s where I do my most freely creative work. As I don’t live there full time, I sort of have a sub-life there. I’m able to have permission to be fully in the creative realm in New York. So I’m glad that’s not only reflected in the music, and the producers – fifty percent of the record is by New York producers and the other fifty is UK – but also the fan base.