IT is very rare that we get a great musical...
talent who matches incredible ability with a genuine, down to earth personality! It’s unusual to see Self Esteem’s Rebecca Lucy Taylor simply called ‘Self Esteem’: most people have to say ‘Rebecca from Slow Club’. I guess most will know her from the duo – formed in 2006 in Sheffield, it consisted Taylor and Charles Watson. I remember when they burst onto the scene and being amazed by their musicality and the strength of their material! This was at a time when there were relatively few male-female duos and now, over twelve years later, there are more and more on the scene. I know a lot of duos who are inspired by Slow Club and particularly Taylor’s incredible songwriting and vocals. Their 2009 debut, Yeah So, is one of the most impressive debut albums of the decade and it is amazing to hear how realised and confident they were then. I guess I am doing the same thing as everyone else and not seeing past Rebecca Taylor’s former life. When it was announced Slow Club were splitting, it was obvious both would continue to make music. As Self Esteem, Taylor retains some strands of Slow Club but has created a bigger and more alluring sound. I have bemoaned the real lack of pop and spark in music at the moment; how few Pop artists are writing something uplifting and engaging. Maybe it is a case of having to project the realities of life or a desire to be completely honest, emotionally.
Self Esteem is a different and unique proposition. Taylor has years’ experience with Slow Club and is masterful when it comes to penning tunes that get right into the head. In March, Madonna’s Like a Prayer (her fourth album) turns thirty and I hope people make a fuss. It was a huge step for the Queen of Pop and he first time she got the unerring ear of critical acclaim. Before then, she was popular - but, one feels, not universally adored. The strength of that album is the evocativeness of the lyrics and the match of maturity and sheer Pop fun – one must also consider the confidence and real sense of personality that emanates from every song. There is a real sense of opening up from Madonna; not the generic and cliché songs many of her peers were singing about. Taylor might be a few years shy of Madonna’s best but there are similarities regarding the music. Self Esteem/Taylor never produces two songs that sound the same. There is that mesh of serious and thought-provoking alongside these crackers that are effervescent and have the potential to remain and resonate for years. One other comparison is the complex balance of accessible and star-like. Madonna, in 1989, projected a rather engaging and openhearted figure on Like a Prayer’s cover but, naturally, she was a superstar and there were boundaries.
Rebecca Lucy Taylor has this real sense of gravitas and superstar-in-waiting but she is one of those artists you could chat to and have a laugh with. One only needs to look at her social media feeds to realise she is a warm, funny and sometimes awkward (always funny and engaging) human who has a great wit, huge heart and real warmth – even though here is an artist whose stock is rising and she has is one of the best young artists out there. I love the fact Taylor is this perfect combination of matey and genuine star. Her music takes you in different directions but she has a sound that is distinctly hers. Wrestling and Rollout, released last year, are instant hits but there are layers and nuances that come out the more you listen. Rollout was especially popular and gained a lot of tractions from stations like BBC Radio 6 Music (especially from the legend that is Shaun Keaveny!). Whether you class Self Esteem as purely ‘Pop’ or it is a mix of Pop and Indie; the songs are fresh and mature but they have this addictive quality. In a scene that is becoming more dour and serious, it is nice to have an artist who can bring the fun and spunk without compromising intelligence and depth – so many modern Pop artists lack lyrical clarity and any sense of distinction. Self Esteem’s newest cut, The Best, is Taylor faster-paced and more energised.
Rollout has a more sensual, hip-swaggering soulful kick whereas earlier singles such as Your Wife and OMG are bubbling, bursting and slamming. I love how Taylor, as a songwriter, provides something new with each song and I cannot wait to see how it all comes together on the debut solo album. Make sure you pre-order Compliments Please - because it is one of the most anticipated albums of 2019. I will grab myself a copy because I have been following Taylor’s career since the start and cannot wait to see what she offers the world. I will try and catch a Self Esteem gig because I am based in London and have heard so many positive reviews regarding that experience. There are very few modern artists who have as much strength, variation and energy as Rebecca Taylor. It is the personality of Taylor that really strikes a chord with me. She is consistently funny and charming on social media and is, as I say, this rarely accessible artist. There is no ego with her and, when you hear her being interviewed, she is one of the most grounded and friendly artists around. All of this adds up to one of the most important and intriguing talents we have in the country. Make sure you get onto Self Esteem’s social media feeds (listed at the foot of this article) and go catch a gig when you can!
This is a time of transition for Taylor and many still, as mentioned, associate her with Slow Club. She recently spoke with DIY regarding her new moniker and what life was like in the duo:
“It’s a weirdly difficult thing to spend your whole life as a creative person, just doing a version of yourself because you have to make sure the other person is happy with your output,” explains Rebecca Taylor – formally one half of Sheffield folk pop duo Slow Club. “I loved it, but it wasn’t fully me, and I underestimated how much that affected me over the years. I was way more ambitious than where we were getting to and you can’t push someone else to be like that,” she pauses for a beat, “apparently”.
Taylor went on to talk about her ambitions and a record that is, oddly, a driving force for her:
“All that gets me off is harmony and beat and I just was constantly saying that it needed to sound like ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ because I still think that’s one of the most unbelievable records ever,” she explains of the album – recorded at Margate’s Electric Beach studios sporadically over the past two years. “It feels meaty. It doesn’t feel girly, and I never wanted it to be sweet. I did too many years of that and I never felt comfortable with it”.
In a way, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Taylor write a Kanye West-like masterpiece that takes you in all sorts of directions! The Self Esteem material coming out now gets stronger and stronger and I think a Hip-Hop leaning would be a good move. I am not sure whether we will see some touches of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy on the Self Esteem debut album but that would be something! Although Taylor is not the same Trump-supporting-odd-self-promoting-bit-off-the-wall artist as Kanye West, I admire her ambitions and it is clear she is an artist not committed to the mainstream and what is ‘expected’ of a female artist. I think artists like Taylor are vital because they think outside the box and are putting female artists under the spotlight. I often write about sexism and gender inequality in the industry and how festivals are reluctant to book women as headliners. Taylor is someone who speaks up and is aware there are issues and deficits in the music industry. Once Compliments Please – I wonder whether there should be a comma in the title? – is out there and Self Esteem tours far and wide, you cannot ignore the festival-readiness of Rebecca Taylor. She is one of those artists primed for a big stage and I would be disappointed to see her miss out this year. I am confident she will be among the front-runners when it comes to festival headliners next year and there are few artists enjoying the same creative run as her.
The music industry is going through a tough time in so many respects and, as much as anything, it can be hard focusing on artists and predicting who will be the next best thing. Rebecca (Lucy) Taylor does not need to prove herself to anyone – given her experience and work with Slow Club – but I often thing mainstream Popstars get undue exposure and focus. If one wants more depth, detail and range then look the way of Self Esteem! I am keen to interview Taylor because she has so much life and energy inside of her. She is one of those people you listen to for ages and I bet you can tell a story or two! I think a lot of mainstream stars lack that relatable and tangible quality. You could never imagine them spending time to chat and being anything other than quite guarded and overly-disciplined. I like the fact you get a cheeky joke from Taylor or she might go off script once in a while. There are few artists like her and I feel the industry can learn a lot from her. Taylor is the boss and someone who has a big year ahead of her. She has lots of tour dates lined up and, with The Best out there and gaining all sorts of passionate reviews, many are looking ahead to the album.
It is the first big move from this songwriter that many still associate with Slow Club. The skin might not have been fully shed but this is Taylor wearing a different wardrobe and, in many ways, going it alone. Her fan numbers are growing and it is a very exciting time for Self Esteem. Able to mix cool and sassy with genuine heartache moments of exhilarating delight – this is a rare brew and one that I am quite partial to. Ensure you get your ears around Self Esteem and follow the always-delightful and fun Rebecca Lucy Taylor (@SELFESTEEM___) on social media. I am tipping her for big things in 2019 and, looking ahead, who is to say she cannot headline festivals like Glastonbury and Isle of Wight?! I think she is close to being at that level and her music is definitely hitting all the right notes. I will stop waffling now but I am pumped for Self Esteem and will follow her movements with great interest. Go pre-order the Self Esteem album, go catch a gig and throw a lot of love the way of Rebecca Lucy Taylor. She is on a definite wave right now and producing simply incredible music. How far can she go? She is bloody awesome and I think the next two years will see Self Esteem go from the festival headline-promising to a truly international name. If you think that is exaggeration then go check out the amazing music and...
YOU’LL fall in love pretty damn quickly.
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