INTERVIEW: Self Esteem | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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It wasn’t supposed to be this long or this daft! The album was supposed to come out in August!”

Rebecca Lucy Taylor is describing the extensive, colourful campaign that’s preceded her second record as Self Esteem, of which today’s press round forms the latest leg. It’s a process that’s brought months of photo shoots, TV appearances and interviews much like our own; a laborious, visibly draining process, yet one for which the Sheffield singer voices no complaints. “I do think you get your rewards if you work hard,” she states. “My desire to be seen is just so unbelievably strong, and I feel a lot more listened to this time around. I feel more important.”

It helps, of course, that the record she’s promoting is anything but routine. At the time of writing, early responses to Prioritise Pleasure have been as joyous and unabashed as the songs themselves; hearts and minds firmly hooked through brazen, almost comically full-blooded pop ambitions and filter-free lyrical deep dives. If 2019’s Compliments Please represented a bold reinvention following her decade as one half of indie outfit Slow Club, Prioritise Pleasure is the sound of an artist coming into her own, cementing her status as a bona fide star for a liberated post-#MeToo age. “Self Esteem is about finally doing what I want, unchallenged,” Rebecca explains. “Putting myself first has come very late, but I’m enjoying the benefits of not having my wings clipped every day. I feel free enough to prioritise pleasure in a way that’s not out of necessity, but out of choice.”

My desire to be seen is just so unbelievably strong, and I feel a lot more listened to this time around. I feel more important

“I’ve figured out that communication is key across the board,” she continues. “I was in a band for a long time where the art was in misdirect and metaphor, whereas now everything’s concentrated like Robinsons juice. Because I’m sick of being misunderstood and not listened to, I want to be direct. Every single factor – the songs, the costumes, the PR – is an opportunity to say something. They all come hand-in-hand as one unit of work. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, an all-consuming multisensory experience. It doesn’t make sense to me not to use every platform I have.”

Off the back of such an audacious, exuberant triumph, I wonder whether she’d occasionally prefer to focus on simpler matters – her soaring vocal abilities perhaps? Or the art of penning a banging chorus? “Oh I’d love to! But that’s just my lot. Me being able to sing is very, very far down the list at this point!” She concedes. “I always think about how Ed Sheeran just gets to talk about his songs and not sexual abuse…I’d like to discuss my music and how I make it, but I don’t mind that things get more political than that. Enough music is being made and enough singers are singing. I want to know what else they’re doing.”

Moreover, the intense spotlight drawn by Prioritise Pleasure’s lengthy build-up and ecstatic release has served only to reinforce the record’s central message: “Things are getting better, but the inequality is still raging daily. The thing is, whenever somebody gives me shit on Instagram, comments on the way I look or others me to some lads with guitars now, I just think ‘You’re proving exactly why I do this. So, you know…Go for it!’”

Self Esteem plays Wylam Brewery on Tuesday 2
nd November. Prioritise Pleasure is out now

 

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