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Esser in Black Book

via [House Special ] Black Book August 2008

That voice, those eyes, that hair, Meet British wonder boy Ben Esser as he dives headfirst into musical superstardom.

Will the floor hold? Ben Esser ask anxiously, his limpid, soulful brown eyes scanning a room inside his East London home while his slim frame teeters atop a bookcase. But the friends he’s invited over for a raucous celebration this afternoon, so colorful they seem to have stepped straight from street-style blog, aren’t all that concerned: “Sure it will!” After a nervous pause, he screams and leaps.

The floor holds. Surprisingly, so does Esser’s oversize pompadour. Along with the 23-year-old merrymaker’s delicate digital filigree, buoyant dance tracks spiked with cinematic twists and sing-along hooks, his signature look—part punk, part rockabilly-glam—has attracted serious attention from the likes of Dior Homme mastermind-turned-photographer Hedi Slimane, who recently immortalized the Essex native on his personal website. Evidently, the party follows Esser wherever he goes: music videos for his singles turn into dance-offs, while his sold-out shows have been known to spill out of the club transforming into unruly street bashes.

“I’m definitely an observer of life,” says Esser, however, confirming the darkness hidden beneath all those layers of glitter. “I like showing how people put on a front and hide their sinister side.” Many of the chirpy harmonies from his debut album Braveface are, unexpectedly, about serial killers and racism–even if it all looks and sounds like a party.

Before he and his fellow revelers empty their last cocktails of the night, Esser says his pensive tone anathema to the lively surroundings, “Growing up, I didn’t want to be where I was. I wanted to escape all of the scrutiny of my small town with music. It was easy to come to London and be what I wanted to be.” And with that, Esser exits into the night, free to be whatever he‘d like.