British singer, songwriter, rapper, producer and Grammy Award winner Estelle has successfully mixed her sound across the music board with her take on R&B/Soul, Hip Hop, Reggae and more. With successful albums under her belt and more than a few high profiled collaborations, the artist takes on the role as boss and drops her latest album True Romance. RoJay spoke with Estelle about about the new project, why she lives for music and what she wants her fans to experience.
RoJay: You’re on your 4th album. Tell me what inspired you to go independent for this one.
Estelle: I took a look at the industry and what was going on around me and I decided that ownership was key. I’ve been doing music for almost 15 years and why not have my own label. Why be signed to different people and never see the bottom line? I started as independent so it’s full circle and it’s easy for me. It wasn’t hard work. We did the work anyway and since it was like ‘We’ve been doing it’ so why not just continue? It’s independent, but I still have a major backing.
RoJay: Seeing that you have been in the game for a minute and you’ve grown with each album, what would you say the major difference with this particular project is?
Estelle: It’s grown up. It’s the next installation. I think people would have expected me from the last record to go from this album to I’m happy and in love and there is sunshine and birds and I’m chilling on the beach… no one’s doing that so I couldn’t write about it. So I wrote what I’m bound to which is living life, dating, being a better human being and getting my shit together. That’s simply what a lot of people are going through right now. A lot of people spend a lot more time in this space than they do marriage or broken up anyway so it’s just an easier thing to relate to than the idea of having everything awesome and everything together. I kind of wanted to write about being a human being versus what I was expected to write about which was a fake happy relationship that I’m not in. It’s aspirational but it is real. I had to write about real life.
RoJay: I know you have a machine behind you, but it’s a little different now. So since you’re in control of this ship how will you deem this album as being successful or not?
Estelle: It’s never a worry. I don’t create music to make it ‘I need this to sell a trillion records’. I never did that with ‘American Boy’ and I didn’t think that record was going to blow up so I can’t call it. I’m an artist. I do music. The machine is no different from the main machine because my team has run labels and been the heads of labels and all of that so to me it’s no different. I don’t really look at it in that aspect. I just do what we do. My team is great at what they do and we just put the work in and do what we do. This is my third album in the U.S. so it’s the same amount of work that I’ve done before. I gain the same amount of exposure as before so it doesn’t really make a difference to me.
RoJay: Well since you take that approach to things would you say there is a hard part to the business or what would you consider the hardest part of the business?
Estelle: No sleep!
Estelle: That’s kind of what you sign your life up to when you sign a record deal or any deal of any sort. It’s a real issue. The hardest part is no sleep. You need to be well rested to make real great decisions, but you have no sleep and you have to make great decisions at the same time so that’s the hardest part for me. Being awake and catching everything and every tone and everything that was spoken and things unspoken and still smile and be ready for the cameras everyday too when you’re thinking that you didn’t get a fresh relaxer last week because that’s the first thing on your mind too next to sleep…
RoJay: I hear ya!
Estelle: It’s a lot of stuff, but no sleep would be the hardest part.
RoJay: I know you did the series of EPs before the album came and I am sure albums are more important to you, but how do you approach them? Is there a difference in your approach to an EP versus an actual album?
Estelle: Well the music, no. The EPs were a result of me having so much music. I was making them and they weren’t quite gelling together in a sense of I wanted it to be an album, but they were great songs and they were great records so we were like ‘let’s create a way to put these records out instead of letting them sleep for three years’. So while I’m out creating these albums people were still getting something from me so that they wouldn’t go into withdrawel in a sense. That was the main complaint from my fans you know… ‘You just go away’. So where I am like I wanna just go a live, they are wondering where the music is at. So I kind of wanted to have something to tide them over almost like a snack before dinner time and that’s what the EPs were. And it’s the precursor to kind of explain and give context to what the album was going to be about.
RoJay: Gotcha! Well you know we have to talk about some of these songs on the album! Especially one in particular called ‘Make Her Say (Beat It Up)’. You owned this one with such confidence. Tell me how you came up with this concept for that particular track.
Estelle: Well the record was talking about great sex. If you’re following the album you will see that it’s about the aftermath. What happens after you break up with somebody and it’s not marriage. I think the first thing I did was go and find some great sex. I think that’s the reaction for a lot of people after a break up is ‘Man, I’m gonna go get laid. I’m gonna go find some good peen and get it crackin!’ So that was me being very literal. I had written a good bulk of that album at that point and there were all these metaphors and deep words and sometimes you don’t feel like metaphors and deep words so you need something real visceral. Something that is ‘Hey, how you doing?’ and in your face and simple. That’s what that record was and it’s part of romance and feeding yourself. Knowing yourself sexually and being comfortable with yourself.
RoJay: Oh yea.
Estelle: And I don’t know nobody that doesn’t like great sex.
RoJay: I don’t think you will. That person doesn’t exist.
RoJay: Now which type records do you find are easier or that people gravitate to the most. The records that are loaded with metaphors and deep words or the simple and literal ones?
Estelle: They like both. That’s when it becomes real human. When you deliver records like that and then you deliver records like ‘Conqueror’ in the same breath that’s when you find out and realize that we’re all just human. The same people that liked ‘Conqueror’ loved ‘Make Her Say’ and again we’re the people. We are human. I don’t know anybody that hasn’t been through a shit time and had to pick themselves up again. That doesn’t mean they don’t like good sex. I don’t think that one thought is mutually exclusive. Like not one thought is mutually exclusive to one type of person to the other. We’re all human and we are what we are. We’re gray. We’re black. We’re white. And we’re purple. We’re five different colors at the same time. So I think people like them both. We just have to be in the right space and preferably no kids around so we can ‘make her say’… But they definitely like them both.
RoJay: Well you obviously speak through your art so tell me what you would want the average listener or the hardcore listener to take away as an experience after listening to your album?
Estelle: I want the hardcore listener to be like ‘Man, she didn’t disappoint! Thank you!’ and I want the average listener to say ‘This is a good ass album! I’m gonna play this all the time!’ That’s my whole thing. I just wanna make great music. I just want to make dope music and I want people to like it and play it before they leave the house and when they are riding in their car or on the subway and in the elevators or going to their friend’s house. We have the Parental Advisory versions for the parents who have kids or grandparents. I just want to continue to make music that people like. That humans like. I’m not worried about any particular lane of person. I want EVERYBODY to like this. I want EVERYBODY to relate to this at the very least. You ain’t gon like it the fact that I say ‘Make my pu$$y say’, but you will relate to the fact that you like good sex. You might not like that I’m talking about being a conqueror, but you will relate to the fact that no one likes to be stepped on. No one likes to be downtrodden or left on the ground. I just want people to relate to it and relate to it in some way. That’s what my wishes would be.
RoJay: And there is nothing wrong with that. Well I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me today about a few things. We will be sure to let our readers know that Estelle has returned and got some heat for them to check out.
Estelle: Thank you.
RoJay: No problem. So you enjoy your day and holler at us if you need anything.
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