Freshly Squeezed: Introducing Era Istrefi

Published: Friday 4th Nov 2016 by David

Standing as the embodiment of Dancehall’s permeation of Pop culture is Era Istrefi, the Kosovar vocalist behind the hit single ‘Bon Bon.’

Inspired by sights and sounds created by the likes of Beenie Man, Patra and Lady Saw, the gifted Era rose to fame when the aforementioned single (which was recorded in her native tongue) was carried above and beyond her domestic market by fans online.

Keen to celebrate her rising star TGJ caught up with her in London to discuss what is shaping up to be an exciting journey.

TGJ’s ‘Freshly Squeezed’ meets Era below…

I started music as a teenager and sharing it on YouTube but before that I really was singing for fun. Growing up, I listened to a lot of R&B and Hip-Hop artists like Brandy, Christina Aguilera, Monica and Eminem and that helped to shape my sound away from the traditional Albanian music I loved listening to my mother and sister make.
In 2013, with her own style (a combination of Hip Hop, traditional Albanian music, Dancehall & R&B) in her creative arsenal, she released the singles ‘Mani per money’ and ‘A Po Don.’
It wasn’t long before the teen caught the ears of tastemakers who named her the “Rihanna of Albania”, citing similarities between the performers’ vocal stylings and influences.
In 2015, with help from the creative Ergen Berisha, Era released the single that would see her join the ‘Work’ vocalist on the global stage.
Released on the 30th of December 2015, the single became a surprise hit when its music video went viral introducing to English-speaking audiences to the Pristina-born Pop princess…much to her surprise.
The song doing what it did came as a huge shock to me because it isn’t  that different from my earlier material. That’s because I wrote them all. That made its success so meaningful to me. You can hear all of my influences, Dancehall, Reggae, and Electroin it and I’m happy that my first hit was one which really embodies who I am. It’s so strange, growing up Kosovo’s unrest made me wish I was born in America so I could b an American girl. Now I realise now that being from where I’m from is what makes me and my music so unique.
A bidding war between several major labels following ‘Bon’s unveiling ended with Era signing a lucrative deal with Sony Music Entertainment.
She is now working on her debut album.
The album has seven songs on it so far and so much of what I’m doing now is giving myself the space and time to explore new sounds and genres and write from a place of honesty. Things are complicated now because when I didn’t have the recording contract I have now when I wrote the songs that got me the deal so there’s a pressure that’s there that didn’t exist before.
It’s exciting at the same time though because I can sense where the project is going.  It feels…limitless.
As our conversation with the endearing starlet comes to an end, we ask her how she’d like to be remembered.
I want to be known as a girl from Kosovo who gave her people hope by believing in her dream and never giving up on it…as someone who proves that anything is possible.

Your thoughts?

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  1. IStan4Rihanna. (Caribbean Queen) November 4, 2016

    “The Rihanna of Albania”. I thought that was Rita Ora?


    Furthermore, I thought Zara Larsson was being christened the “new Rihanna” along with several other White Pop girls in the industry today?


    The desperate need to find the “new Rihanna” (something of which will never happen) is truly incredible as is her impact.



    • HALF AMAZIN November 6, 2016

      Right. People discredit her yet these tarts are trying to be her. Lol. I can’t wait for R9

  2. Starxavi November 4, 2016

    I discovered her song Bon Bon earlier this year and it has remained on my playlist ever since. She’s got a cool style and voice. I can totally see her being the Rihanna of Albania.

  3. Ragga King November 4, 2016

    She’s into Patra so im into her!

  4. Tru.dont1234 November 4, 2016

    Lol lets see u post a new black female artist
    Wont do that will you? #sellout

  5. #JACKIE November 4, 2016

    The industry is currently oversaturated with new female artists, most of which look and sound the same. I miss the old days where everyone had distinct looks and sounds. NEXT!!!

  6. Mr.StLaurent November 4, 2016

    She’s already making a little name for herself in Europe.

    Love the song “Bon Bon”

  7. @ASAPicon November 4, 2016

    All I know is, “Bon Bon” is my shitt!

  8. NiceWe Nowqd Redv dibut it ash trjoan ivy blobukz Need UK timely Ukuno eremixi November 4, 2016

    Don’t know who she is

  9. Junior in Jamaica November 5, 2016

    Yeah I found out about her some time ago too and I love “Bon Bon”

    But, there will only be ONE Rihanna. She can do her thing though.

    But apparently Rihanna already knows her?

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