For the past 20 years house music artist Esette (Isis Graham) has played an instrumental role in shaping Calgary’s dance music landscape into the internationally recognized hotspot that it is today.
Her 30-plus releases have received support from artists like Maceo Plex, Fred Everything, Giom, Luke McKeehan, Animal Trainer, Vanilla Ace, Seth Troxler, Jamie Jones, DJ Heather, DOZA, and Pezzner.
As a DJ she’s been invited to play notable festivals like Bass Coast, WMC, Decibel, and ADE.
These accolades, combined with her work as co-owner of Calgary-based Substation Recordings, have made Esette a name synonymous with cultural growth, a force constantly driving artists around her to push forward.
Graham first began throwing raves in 1997, witnessing the height of Calgary’s renegade party scene with events that drew as many as 1600 people. In 1999 she began DJing, and after local bylaws brought about the end of raves the following year she brought her Chicago-influenced house tracks to some of the most notable venues of the last decade, appearing at now-legendary spots like the Embassy, Cherry Lounge, Manhattans, and the Night Gallery.
In 2003 Graham was invited to become a founding member of Girls On Decks, a group dedicated to increasing the visibility of women in dance music through podcasts and hosting events. Together with the other members, Graham showed her ability to incite critical change by giving numerous women DJs a platform to be heard.
Over the ten years that followed Graham continued to develop her catalogue as a producer with a string of releases on Tycho Records, collaborations with Vancouver’s Neighbour, and her 2012 album In The Garden.
Then in late 2013 Graham became a co-owner of the newly relaunched Substation Recordings, a label dedicated to showcasing the avant-garde of western Canadian house and techno. Since forming the label, four of her releases have charted internationally, with 2015’s You single reaching 35 on Beatport’s September top 100 Electronica chart.
To see Esette is to witness a catalyst, one of the forces behind Calgary being named by Beatport as one of the cities to rule dance music. Her journey thus far has been propelled by her ability to maintain a uniqueness in her music while harkening back to some of dance music’s most classic sounds.
When it comes to house music, Esette is what innovation looks like.