In the chorus of ‘Rollout’, the second single from Self Esteem’s 2019 album debut, Rebecca Taylor asks herself: “What I might have achieved/ if I wasn’t trying to please.” It’s a question many of us will be familiar with –dampening ourselves to get by at school or work, shrinking our femininity to be taken more seriously, staying quiet because it will cause fewer problems than speaking up.
Having achieved quite a lot in the past few years, Taylor is leaning further into the power of using her full voice. Introduced to the world as one half of indie-folk duo Slow Club, her talented lyricism and commitment to performance was always there, but shrouded in the very nature of compromise that comes with being part of a larger machine. When she went solo as Self Esteem in 2017, it was an opportunity for out-and-out autonomy, shedding past skins and striving towards glossy, behemoth pop.
“I just had such a desire to do what I wanted, and ‘Hot Pop Star’ was a digestible, succinct way to describe it,” she explains. “I have been an indie girl since I was about 13; I was exhausted at having to communicate that supposed authenticity. And so the first thing you saw of Self Esteem wasme realising that nobody was telling me no anymore. I could make things as fun and as funny and creative as possible. With videos, shows, photoshoots…every time you’ve got an opportunity to do something, why wouldn’t you do the most amazing thing you could cook up?”
On her new album, Prioritise Pleasure, Taylor states “I suppose this record is just me going, what if this isn’t failure? What if this is actually pretty good?”
Pretty good feels like a modest estimation as Taylor wins awards, including BBC Music Introducing’s Artist Of The Year and Attitude Magazine’s Music Award, a BRIT nomination and continues to sell-out shows at ever-growing venues across the UK and plays the largest gigs of her career –in recognizing herself and others, Rebecca Taylor has made countless people feel esteemed.