"I'm heartbroken, I'm euphoric, I'm everything and nothing..." - Self Esteem talks her new album, Prioritise Pleasure...
From 2006 until the end of 2017, Rebecca Lucy Taylor was one-half of Slow Club alongside Charles Watson.
While together, the pair released five studio albums, mostly rooted in folk and indie lo-fi, with occasional flirtations into soulful Motown, but after they parted ways, Taylor has gone off in a very different direction.
Her solo work, which goes out under the name Self Esteem, is a world away from the relative comforts of Slow Club. The warm folky instrumentation has been traded for glossy, clinically produced pop and lyrical whimsy for biting directness.
After a well-received debut in 2019 with Compliments Please, Taylor has now made a follow-up, Prioritise Pleasure, which is out now in hmv stores.
The album has been produced by Johan Karlberg, whose credits include Boyz Noise and Yo! Majesty, and takes Taylor's start on Compliments Please and pushes it that much harder.
With the album on shelves now, we spoke to Taylor about how this album came together...
When was this album written? Did it exist pre-pandemic or was it written during those months?
"I’d written most of it before the pandemic. I sat with the demos all through that first wave just being so ready to record and produce it up. I then spent the second wave with the unmixed record desperately waiting to mix it!"
Did you have a goal of how you wanted the record to move on from what you did on Compliments Please?
"I set out to make a kind of Compliments Please Two. Same elements, more concentrated and galvanised. Where there are strings there's more of an orchestra, where there are harmonies, there’s a whole choir..."
It’s a 13-track record, is that 13 down from 20 or 30 or 50? Did you have a lot of material to pick through?
"I wrote 14 songs and 13 made it. If I’ve taken the time to write something you better believe it’s getting used!"
You did the album with Johan Karlberg, what does he give you as a producer?
"He’s my absolute ears. Johan is integral to finding the sound of Self Esteem with me. He and I really vibe off exactly the same things. He’s brilliant. A genius. And so am I so the combination is so fruitful and exciting every single time we are in a studio together."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme to it?
"It’s just a timestamp of where I am. All my songs are. I’m exhausted by the expectations put on me. I'm heartbroken, I'm euphoric, I'm everything and nothing."
How are lyrics for you? Are you always scribbling things down or do you need to have a melody in place before you start?
"It is different every time. I write a lot of thoughts and poems and things in my phone pretty constantly, but I also have melodies swimming around my head too. They sometimes meet at the same time, sometimes I find one for the other."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"It would be 'You Forever!' It was the only head-scratcher. Everything else knew it’s gone straight away but 'You Forever!' was a kind of tribal song. I so badly had a vision of it being a Robyn style sad banger. Took a while for sure but we got there. Lots of me dancing convincing Johan the BMP worked!"
And which came together most quickly?
"'I Do This All The Time' was very quick. I only ever did that vocal once. It was like I’d been possessed from writing to recording to producing to mixing. I knew exactly what it needed to be. I don’t know why."
You’re heading out on tour in November, how is the set shaping up?
"It’s banging! It’s long and sweaty! We’re all gonna have Strictly style makeovers by the end of it!"
How’s 2022 looking? Are you getting booked up?
"It's busy as f**k! But that’s all I’ve ever wanted. I just wanna be scheduled and booked and busy and blessed!"