by Glennon F. Curran
Augustine Esterhammer-Fic is a helluva name to remember, but he is better known as one of those guys who is always working on an album. Since 2015, the Chicago multi-instrumentalist and songwriter has been hard at work on a follow up to his quietly self-released debut. That album, Nothing Is Hidden (2014), is a meticulous patchwork of processed electronics, cello, digital manipulations, and lyrical motifs about death and nature. The album artfully showcased the strength of Esterhammer-Fic’s burgeoning musical vision; a baroque yet uncannily contemporary sound that is beautiful and haunting all at once. The formality and ornateness of classical music is refracted through songwriting that plumbs the depths of impermanence in a naked way.
But for the last four years, Esterhammer-Fic has written material in a slightly different direction, pushing himself to evolve as an artist and performer. The new take appears to keep the feel of his previous vision, but the approach to arrangement has changed. Part of the reason for the change, as the artist explains, is that the previous music was “not something I knew how to re-create live… I wanted to surpass the limits and anxieties that live performance used to present.” So, he has taken to arranging for a full band, and is nearing completion of a fresh full-length in this new era. But before that, he has set out to exhibit his changing musical direction and provide a taste of things to come with a pair of live videos, the first of which is called “Things Change / Boo’d Up.”
In this video, Esterhammer-Fic’s powers of arrangement are on full display, as is his vulnerability as an untested artist that is stepping out as a songwriter, in many ways, for the first time. What better way to do that than by showcasing an orchestral reinterpretation of the Grammy Award Winning Certified R&B Banger ™ “Boo’d Up” by Ella Mai. All while mixing in verses from some forthcoming material to boot (hence the dual title of the video).
When asked about the video, Esterhammer-Fic states: “This particular song is about longing, but I'm always interested in metaphor, in the relationship we have to our body, and in nature. I kept hearing Ella Mai's song “Boo'd Up” and thought it had such a gorgeous melody and lyric for the chorus. I really wanted to try to re-contextualize it musically and thematically. Plus it's hot. I drive a 14-year-old minivan, sometimes I just wanna sing something that's hot.”