Self Esteem, a Pop Singer Who Wants Britain to ‘Prioritise Pleasure’


LONDON — Rebecca Lucy Taylor — higher often known as Self Esteem — was onstage at a membership right here final Friday, performing “I’m Fine,” a pop tune with a pounding beat about a sexual assault. The observe contains a recording of a girl describing how she barks like a canine when approached by teams of males on the road: “There is nothing that terrifies a man more than a woman that appears completely deranged.” As strings soared, Taylor and her band began barking and howling alongside. Several ladies within the viewers joined in.

It was a second that captured each the irreverence and sincerity of Self Esteem, a budding British pop star, whose second album, “Prioritise Pleasure,” is constructing her a fan base who say they really feel seen by her music.

For greater than 15 years, Taylor, 35, has been working away in Britain’s music scene, first within the indie band Slow Club, which she stated she left after years of discovering her concepts stifled, then as Self Esteem, a title that “just accidentally become the exact thing I needed,” she stated in an interview at an east London bar a week earlier than the live performance.

“I have felt very alone most of my life, like ‘What is wrong with me?’” Taylor stated, pointing to expectations for girls to quiet down and have youngsters. Her latest success “makes me feel this overwhelming relief that I’m not a total weirdo.”

If Taylor has a manifesto behind “Prioritise Pleasure,” it’s encouraging individuals to put themselves first with out denying that they will additionally make errors. The “pleasure” talked about within the album’s title can take many kinds, she stated, together with what she was wanting ahead to doing that night: going house, ordering take out and watching “Succession.”

Jude Rogers, a music journalist who has written about “Prioritse Pleasure,” stated Self Esteem’s music feels proper for the second. “We needed a woman to appear who was going to say, ‘Enough,’” Rogers stated. Self Esteem is “expressing all the messiness, all the frustration and all the anger of being a woman,” in bold pop music,” she added.

Taylor stated she’s been involved about her security since she was a teenager, “which I guess is like the zeitgeist now.” She began writing the album in 2019, and determined to course of a sexual assault she had survived by way of her music. “As someone who lives very free, I like to be sexual, I like to do what I want,” she stated. “But suddenly it was taken from me and I had a decision to never enjoy myself in that way again, to never be the person I like to be, or turn it all into defiant euphoria.”

The finish of a poisonous relationship additionally knowledgeable the album, however the file has a robust thread of empowerment, which Taylor stated was a results of extra optimistic experiences. “I finally hit this beautiful cross section of I’m older, the therapy’s kicked in a bit, and I care less,” she stated. While making the file, she stopped worrying about different individuals’s expectations of her and her profession.

All these modifications led Taylor to write songs like “I Do This All The Time,” a largely spoken phrase observe during which she lists her struggles, together with on a regular basis anxieties (“Old habits die for a couple of weeks, and then I start doing them again”) and sexist feedback from outdated tour managers (“All you need to do, darling, is fit into that little dress of yours”).

Johan Karlberg, a member of the group the Very Best who produced “Prioritise Pleasure,” believes Self Esteem’s success is much less concerning the present cultural local weather in Britain and extra a response to Taylor’s nice songs and her “brute honesty.”

“People like to say they’re being honest in their songs and interviews, but really they very rarely are,” he stated. “Rebecca is in everything, and people relate to that.”

At her London live performance final week, the relating was practically deafening, as followers shouted together with their favourite strains (“Sexting you at the mental health club seems counterproductive” was notably loud).

One fan, Cat Carrigan, 30, stated she’s drawn to a danceable Self Esteem observe known as “Moody” that’s each a story of a relationship collapsing and an try to reclaim a frequent insult used in opposition to girl. “I’ve been called a moody cow many times in my life,” Carrigan stated. “It’s not going to affect me anymore.”

But Rubie Street, 29, stated there one thing else that’s made her a fan. The songs “are banging tunes, aren’t they?” she stated. “That always helps.”

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