Listening to Celeste’s most recent single, ‘Strange’, you might notice her voice has an unfamiliar husk to its tone. It’s because she recorded the project in Los Angeles, whilst the air was heavy with the smoke from nearby wildfires. A poignant, piano-led ballad that was selected as Annie Mac’s ‘Hottest Record’ in early September, ‘Strange’ was inspired by the devastation of those fires, and the new, uncomfortable feeling of interacting with your ex as if they were a stranger.
Celeste Waite is 24 years old. Born in Los Angeles, the British/Jamaican singer-songwriter lived there until she was three, before moving to Essex with her mum, and later settling in Brighton: a vibrant creative hub, where she still finds comfort in being beside the ocean. Waite grew up listening to a soundtrack of soul legends – Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, and a Billie Holiday record that would play on loop at the pub she worked at as a teenager. Classic soul inspires Celeste’s blueprint, from the depth of feeling to the raw, crackling sound of the original recordings; she wants her music to feel honest and open, and her lyrics to thread together like timeless poetry.
In 2016, Celeste put out her first project, ‘Sirens’, a single she put up on YouTube which led to the release of The Milk & Honey EP via Lily Allen’s Bank Holiday Records in 2017. The following year, jazz-inflected ‘Both Sides of The Moon’ with Gotts Street Park, inspired, sonically, by Frank Ocean’s ‘Chanel’, would go on to be the opening track on her next EP.
2019 has seen Celeste go from strength to strength; she put out the Lately EP in March, supported Janelle Monáe and Neneh Cherry, played festival debuts at the likes of Glastonbury, Primavera Sound and Field Day, as well as selling out not one but two shows at Omeara (she added a third date on the end too). Celeste will see out the year going out on a European tour with Michael Kiwanuka.
With her dusty palette of soul and lyricism which is relatable, vulnerable and deeply confessional, Celeste is deep in her feelings, and, guaranteed, your heart will ache along with her.
Photo by Mia Clark.