‘I took a fairy job in a panto’: Self Esteem interviewed at Glastonbury | Self love

For self-esteem – AKA Rebecca Lucy Taylor – Glastonbury is where it all started, sort of. “It was Gary Lightbody!” she told Alexis Petridis in the second of The Guardian’s on-stage interviews with musicians on the stage at William’s Green. “I was in school, he was in some of the [Glastonbury] footage and he did a cover of Bright Eyes. She made a new musical discovery and was inspired to follow her own path as a musician.

It’s been a long time: After a decade in indie duo Slow Club, Taylor quit to start Self Esteem. She released her first solo album, Compliments Please, in 2019 to silent success, but it wasn’t until last year with the audacious and ruthlessly self-examined Prioritize Pleasure that the self-esteem phenomenon really took hold. started. It was the Guardian’s album of the year, and her concerts – which she brilliantly describes as “some kind of awful church” – have become places of pilgrimage, especially for adult pop fans who want hear their real life. experiences sent back to them.

At first, however, Taylor said, she was “too scared to say I was going to go solo. I started an Instagram under the name self-esteem and started posting paintings and poems. It was huge for me. She spoke candidly about her ongoing work in an attempt to shake off the self-awareness and people-enjoyment that characterized her first group experience, in order to be more true to her own desires. “As a woman, I feel like I’m asking too much, I’m looking for attention,” she said. “It’s easy to go, ‘I’ll keep it safe and easy and it’ll keep me loved’.”

As an avid pop fan, life in an indie band got stifling, she explained. “If you can’t be yourself, you go crazy, in all aspects of life. I know it was just a band but I went crazy, I couldn’t be myself. It’s hard to be from Rotherham and say that but I’m an artist, I wake up every day and I want to make art. I had to make art through someone else’s lens.

It was a series of breakups that started the self-esteem project, she explained. She had separated from a longtime partner, left London and would work any job. “I accepted a fairy job in a panto,” she explained. “It was very unpleasant. I liked getting paid, but it was two shows a day, six days a week. I was breaking up with my partner and putting the phone down and picking up my wand. new music like it was “like a full time job. The purpose was just to exist and it’s fucking beautiful. It became a real laugh.”

It was important to her that self-esteem had a distinct style, she said. “In Slow Club, I used to struggle with the fact that there was no manifesto, no aesthetic – it was just the opinions of two people. It’s not a good way to make art, I don’t think. Part of that trademark comes from Taylor’s outspoken lyricism about her own flaws – and the things men told her she was.

Self Esteem with Alexis Petridis at William’s Green Stadium, Glastonbury Festival. Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

“People are like, ‘This must be cathartic?’ And I don’t think that’s the case,” she said. “It’s tough but I’m elated, I’m getting so high. And I think that’s because in my life, I never say what I want to say… In songs, people don’t ask me what it’s about, and that security makes me say what I want say and that’s what I get out of it. I wonder if one day I could just write songs about being in love, you know how Ed Sheeran writes a song about his girlfriend.

When Taylor wrote her single from last year, I Do This All the Time, she knew she had “made it”, she admitted. At Slow Club, she had always tried to write hits and failed. When she first went solo, she investigated the world of co-writing with other songwriters and hated it. “With Prioritize Pleasure, of course, because of the pandemic, I was on my own. I wrote it with no end in sight, and that’s how this album came about. And, of course, as soon as you stop trying, the universe [hands you a gift]. Not being all ‘love laughing live’ but… ‘love laughing live’ is important, isn’t it.

The music gave Taylor an outlet for the full-throated expression she had always sought and struggled with in her personal life, she said. “It’s more me making a cup of tea.”

She also spoke honestly about the realities of being a musician and what needs to change in the music industry. Negative experiences with sound engineers prompted her to hire her own technicians, “which means I take less money home…It’s so unregulated and you have to spend a lot of money to make sure that everything will be fine. That’s the main thing for me. It’s not a well paid job, you have to do it. But there could be changes so I don’t pay for not having a terrible time.

Taylor has floated ideas for her third solo album, she said. “It’s interesting to approach the sequel – it’s my day in the sun where there will be more yeses than no and I have to make the most of it. I want to execute it to its full potential.

But not quite yet, she pointed out. “I want to milk Prioritize dry fun!” »

The Guardian’s last live interview is with Angélique Kidjo at 10.20am on the William’s Green stage on Sunday.

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