Esteman is a Colombian singer, songwriter, choreographer, and multi-media artist from Bogota, Colombia. Since releasing his first music video, "No Te Metas a Mi Facebook" ("Stay Off My Facebook"), which went viral on YouTube, he has been part and parcel of pop culture in his home country while establishing a following throughout Latin America and Europe with his compelling videos, singles, and albums. Esteman is a musical shapeshifter: He writes and records in genres ranging from quirky funk and R&B to vallenato and cumbia, from art pop to vintage disco, and from currulao to champeta. His music is the frame enabling his provocative lyrics to co-exist. Esteman's project aims to insert itself into the Latin pop market with a musical, visual, and performative attack both subversive and accessible. Possessed of a pleasant yet slightly nasal tenor singing voice, Esteman's songs are as clever, warm, human, and funny as they are thought-provoking. His influences belie themselves in his range and the music's easily traceable lineage. "Aquí Estoy Yo," his first hit single, was a duet with Colombian pop star Andrea Echeverri. Further collaborations with Carla Morrison ("Adelante") and Natalia Lafourcade ("Caótica Belleza") have helped to spread his reputation transcontinentally. He has been nominated for a Latin Grammy for Best New Artist, and interviewed by mainstream as well as marginal publications and media. His 2016 single "Baila" urged listeners to "always dance freely," and became something of a pop national anthem.
Esteman was born in Bogota as Esteban Mateus Williamson. As a child he was encouraged by his parents to indulge his artistic inclinations. By age 12 and deeply under the sway of the multi-disciplinary David Bowie, he attended several music and theater academies, where he studied not only music but media, dance, and theater. He wrote his first plays and songs while in high school and choreographed them as well. He attended college at Universidad de los Andes where he developed his video, dancing, and songwriting styles and decided to pursue a career in music. His project involved channeling his many influences: He mixed genres, styles, and influences at will, penning catchy melodies, writing lyrics drenched in irony, and orchestrating his tunes with the plastic sounds of an analog synthesizer, an army of percussion instruments, vintage saxophones, and beat-up acoustic and electric guitars. He shot wonky homemade videos showcasing extremely unconventional choreography as accompaniments to his music.
In 2010, the video single "No Te Metas a Mi Facebook" went viral and scored him a recording contract with Universal, where it was issued as a single and made the pop charts. He cut his debut album, 1er Facto for the label in 2012. It featured "Aquí Estoy Yo" the hit collaborative single with Echeverri, which ended up in the Top 10 because of her participation. His album also featured Monsieur Periné and Juan Pablo Vega. He made numerous media appearances, from radio and television to pop-up happenings, all of which served to make him a live attraction at home, while his videos drew attention from other locales. Esteman got involved in multimedia projects, dropped singles and videos, and networked with a wide variety of local and international artists. After a tour, he dropped his sophomore outing Caótica Belleza in the late summer of 2015. Its title track duet with LaFourcade became an instant hit, and the set also included appearances by Li Saumet (Bomba Estéreo), Morrison, and Juan Jose Quiñónez. The album was a smash. He received two Latin Grammy nominations for Best New Artist, and he also received an invitation to perform at the first-ever Lollapalooza Colombia. Unfortunately, due to the outbreak of the Zika virus, the festival was canceled. Nonetheless, Esteman remained active. He toured Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Mexico, and the United States with his band, and released videos while also participating in film and theater projects. That same year, he collaborated with Mon Laferte and Caloncho on a reading of "Todos Quieren Sere un Gato Jazz" ("Everybody Wants to Be a Jazz Cat" from The Aristocats) as part of the charting various-artists album We Love Disney (Latino). Other participants included La Santa Cecilia, Julion Alvarez, Eros Ramazzotti, Paty Cantu, and Luis Fonsi.
Esteman proclaimed himself a feminist in interviews, stating he needed the balance of women's energy on his albums, in his stage shows, and in his life, because male energy has become so dominant it has poisoned almost the whole of Western culture — and he controversially cited reggaeton music as an example. In mid-2018 Esteman returned to the studio to cut what he claimed was his most personal album. In February of 2019, fans discovered the truth about that statement: Entitled Amor Libre, his album was a conceptual song cycle about love, reflecting his personal experiences with it as a feminist and as a gay man. The album debuted in the Top Five of the Colombian pop charts. ~ Thom Jurek