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Self Esteem is bursting onto the scene with personal songwriting and a big live show

25 February 19 interview: Emily Booth
photos: Charlotte Patmore

Relatability is having a moment. But artist and musician Rebecca Taylor doesn’t even need to try. Going under the name of Self Esteem and with her debut album Compliments Please out on in March, we caught up with Rebecca to talk touring, Instagram and Kanye…

Self Esteem

What is Self Esteem all about, and why go under that name rather than Rebecca?
Yeah I also think that! I’ve gone back and forth a bit but now it’s too late. The name Self Esteem was always in my head as a good band name. For a long time, it sort of felt like I could only do this as a side project. I needed to have a name, so it felt less like air. But now it’s become very authentically me, and very much what I want to do, so in a way it should be my name. The term self-esteem has been self-fulfilling; when I started I didn’t have much self-esteem, and now I feel like I’m finally gaining it from this project, so it’s pretty profound actually.

Your Instagram is much more interesting than a lot of musicians, for one because your posts are strikingly honest. Is honesty and transparency important to you?
Yeah it’s the only thing that gets me in to other peoples’ art and music really. I’ve never been in to too many metaphors, and I’ve always loved the directness of really laying it out there. As for the Instagram thing, I don’t really think it through. Now and again I have to document these thoughts I have, it just started out as this selfish journaling, but then people really responded to it.

What are your inspirations, musically and generally?
Musically, I’m really into Hip Hop and R&B - big production American artists like Rihanna and Kanye. I’ve always loved that and listened to that, but I always ended up making folk, and it didn’t do it for me. So it’s great to finally indulge in the stuff I like. Lyrically, it’s just all my horrible feelings constantly, and the experience of having a horrible brain!

You were in music duo called Slow Club. How do you find making music on your own as opposed to in a group?
Yeah it’s been great, but it’s presented new challenges. When you’re in a duo, you have to compromise what you want to do all the time and you fight, whereas when no one’s challenging you all the time sometimes I second guess why I want something to sound how I think. But that’s all internal monologue, and I’m working through it. I certainly needed to go and do this for my brain, I’m so happy that people care about it.

Before the music, Self Esteem was linked to your painting, print and video work. Do you hope to incorporate some of those elements into the music made under Self Esteem?
Yeah, I wanted to do an exhibition of my work at the same time as the album came out, but it’s so ridiculously big I haven’t been able make any of the work! There’s a lot of things I can’t say in music that I can say in painting, I’m very mentally healthy when I’m creating. I can imagine I’ll do some kind of an exhibition at some point, but it won’t be at the same time!

Self Esteem

Your debut album is out this Friday, 1 March. How did you find the recording process?
Yeah it was great, there were new things I didn’t foresee doing alone. The moments of explaining what sound I wanted to the producer helped. It was quite emotional, it felt like a long time coming. I really recommend doing something that you’ve always wanted to do, it really changes your life and it’s made me feel much better from doing it. The ball is rolling now and then by May I’ll be thinking about the next one. I’m under no illusions, I feel great now, but trouble will find me soon I'm sure!

What can we expect from the album?
Well the singles are on there, apart from Your Wife. Then there’s some spoken word stuff I’ve done – there are a lot of songs, 16 tracks. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end, and I hope people will listen to it in order and take the time to stay with it.

You’ll be going on your UK tour in March after the album release. What can we expect from your live performance?
I’m really excited to do a good four weeks of continuous shows. There’s no amount of rehearsing you can do that will give you the vibe of live shows. I’ve not yet had that, so I’m excited! The band is me and two girls singing and dancing, a bass, keys and a drummer - it’s a bit of a show! There’s costumes and a lot going on - I can’t wait!

You'll be coming to Nottingham twice as part of the tour, to Rough Trade on Wednesday 6 March and The Bodega on Sunday 10 March..
I can’t get enough of it, I love it! We’re doing an in-store tour which will be an acoustic stripped down set at Rough Trade, so I’m hoping people with do the double and come to both.

Finally, what are your hopes, dreams and plans for future?
I want to make some money, to keep being able to do this. I’m quite ambitious but I don’t want fame; I want mad respect and I want to live somewhere in the country and still get a call for a job. I’m still in London making it work, but I’d want to move up north and still be successful enough to be busy. I’ve worked for ten years in this industry, now I’ll work for another ten, then I’ll go on a cruise ship!

Self Esteem plays Rough Trade on Wednesday 6 March and The Bodega on Sunday 10 March.

Rough Trade website

The Bodega website 

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