Self Esteem: “I went in the studio imagining I was making a Rihanna record”

Do you recognise that face? It’s only Rebecca from Slow Club, back as SELF ESTEEM with a debut solo effort that’s packed with attitude and good times.

Words: Martyn Young.

Rebecca Lucy Taylor is preparing to step out from a decade in Slow Club for a whole new experience. “Ten years is a long time to do anything,” she laughs. “I have to start being able to say something beyond an Instagram account.”

Self Esteem is the blossoming of years of dreaming and thinking, what if? Fuelled by a new sense of freedom, her latest project is beginning to take flight.“I’ve wanted to do something on my own for about six years,” she begins. “I gave it the artist name Self Esteem all that time ago.

“Now and again, I’ve been making songs with people that don’t go anywhere, and I’ve been keeping it very much on the back burner but rumbling inside with the intense desire to do it. I’ve also had the duty to be in Slow Club though and not confuse the two.

“I’ve laid low, but a couple of years ago it spilt over, and I wanted to put something out. That manifested itself in art things – I did and exhibition of a load of paintings and prints. That was under the artist name Self Esteem and scratched the itch of it.”

While art and her lifelong passion for filmmaking are at the heart of Self Esteem the step forward into recording and releasing music pushed it to another level. To do this, she was aided by a welcome confidence boost from a fellow indie hero.

“I finally showed some songs to Jamie T,” she explains. “He called me and was like” – cue a perfect Jamie T impression – “’This is great, you’ve got to do this’.” That gave me the kick up the bum I needed, and we worked together. It’s been rumbling on for a while.”

Rebecca is constantly brimming with creative thoughts, funny quips and a genuine passion for making things. All sorts of exciting things. Self Esteem is an all-encompassing monster that allows her to do everything she dreamt of doing.

“All the way through Slow Club and my whole creative life I’ve got a desire to write, to make films and dance and I want to do too many things,” she says. “Music affords you the opportunity to do anything. Even if you do it badly, you can do it with conviction. In a band you have to share everything though; if the other person doesn’t want to do it, then you don’t get to do it.”

This time though, there are no compromises and no debates; all of Rebecca’s creative ideas can be fulfilled. “Everything Self Esteem – from the music to the art and the films, even the play that I’m writing – was forced out through the orifices while I was being myself playing in my band,” she explains.

“It’s a gamble because Slow Club is safe for me and I know what I’m doing, but every tea cup you can buy in every service station will tell you to do the things that scare you and follow your dreams.”

“I’ve had this realisation where I’ve learnt everything about strength and love and standing up for yourself.”

Rebecca Lucy Taylor

Fortunately, Rebecca has a bunch of loyal fans earned over the years who eagerly await Self Esteem’s progression. Her first single ‘Your Wife’ is a bold statement and represents a different side to Rebecca that was only hinted at with Slow Club.

“All I listen to is Destiny’s Child, Rihanna and Kanye West,” she says.

“I love the music that a lot of people might say isn’t real music. American R’n’B pop music is my jam. I’ve always had this idea that because I was in this indie girl folk box that’s what I had to make, but I always wanted to do that pop stuff.

“So, I went in the studio imagining I was making a Rihanna record, but it’s me, and I’m going to sing like this with my lyrics. We took it back to the two things that I can offer which are rhythm and melodies. It’s been a different way of approaching it.”

Helped by pal Dave McLean from indie mad scientists Django Django, Rebecca is currently busy beavering away on an album that promises to be drastically different than anything she’s done before. Self Esteem though is more than just about musically shaking things up. It’s about something bigger and more important.

“I grew up when being equal as a woman wasn’t accepted. School didn’t promote it,” she says. “I love that now it’s a given in the world. Even though I’m young, we did grow up with the girls are weaker, you need to be a gentleman thing. I’ve had this realisation where I’ve learnt everything about strength and love and standing up for yourself.”

“The project is me saying all these things, and that’s alright,” she continues. “Over the last ten years in music, I’ve sometimes felt it’s not okay to like pop music or want to dance or do something funny. There have been rules for me as a girl in a band. Self Esteem is quite a terrifying overspill car park of ideas and frustration.”

There’s a primal thrill to what Rebecca is doing now, a feeling that anything is possible. Or, as she puts it, “I’m excited about cutting your chest open and letting whatever it is fall out.”

Despite forging ahead with Self Esteem, Slow Club are very much still a going concern. “I’d like to do another album as soon as we feel we’ve got one in us. We’d like to treat ourselves like a national treasure,” she confirms, laughing, “build it and they will come!’

For now, Self Esteem is her primary focus. Oh, that and Ru Paul’s Drag Race of course. “Ru Paul’s Drag Race is my religion,” she enthuses. “Every single day I watch it. I think about it all the time. That show changed my life.”

Fittingly then there’s a quote from the great Ru Paul that sums up everything about Rebecca’s new adventure: “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?” We can all get an amen on that.

Self Esteem’s debut single ‘Your Wife’ is out now.