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Self Esteem is shining a musical spotlight on the experiences of queer women

The Attitude Music Award winner isn’t afraid to really go there with her warts-and-all songwriting.

By Alastair James

Words: Brian Leonard; picture: Provided

Self Esteem has come a long way since her humble beginnings as part of an indie band from Sheffield. Fast forward to tonight’s Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards sponsored by Jaguar and the star is the winner of tonight’s Music Award.

Starting out in the Sheffield-formed, indie-folk band Slow Club, Rebecca Lucy Taylor, and her bandmates released five critically well-received albums between 2009 and 2016, plus two EPs and a string of singles.

However, in 2017, she eventually decided to spread her wings and fly solo – forming a project named Self Esteem, a name inspired by the self-confidence she gained in her 20s.

Since then, she has proven to be a sonic force to be reckoned with, melding experimental pop with mighty choruses and a dollop of camp.

Striking the right chord, describes herself as “the people’s pop star” and isn’t afraid to really go there with her honest, warts-and-all songwriting.

To find out why, let’s dip into her discography. On her debut album Compliments Please, she showed her hand as an artist who is in equal parts frank and funny, whether she is tackling an ex-lover, or taking aim at the patriarchy with tracks celebrating female empowerment.

Girl power – we love to see it.

With new album Prioritise Pleasure – preceding by the tracks ‘How Can I Help You?’ and ‘I Do This All the Time’ – and a nationwide tour on the way, this diva-in-the-making is also taking up space as a queer artist (she’s been out as a member of the LGBTQ community since 2013) and shining a spotlight on the under-represented experiences of queer women. 

The star – who was recently profiled in the first issue of Rolling Stone UK, which launched last month and is out now – likes to turn a look or two as well, and once performed in a minidress fashioned from Boots advantage points. Give her all the points!

In the Rolling Stone interview in question, the 34-year-old spoke of her pride in playing the recent Green Man festival – and the rapturous reception she received. “I’ve been playing music since I was 17; I’ve walked onto hundreds of festival stages, like hundreds. Never have I walked out to a tent as full as that was, ever.”

“It was just this mad feeling of relief,” she explains. “Something shifted in my head seeing it, like I can wake up every day now not scared that I’m unemployable, worried that I didn’t get a degree, worried about what I’m going to do. For the first time, I feel like I can probably chill out on that for a couple of years and it’s just a beautiful feeling.”

She also spoke of her disappointment at missing out on a Mercury Prize nomination for her debut album. “I was like, ‘Fuck’s sake!'” she admits. “And I wasn’t embarrassed for the first time in my life to go ‘Ah, fuck, I really wanted that – and I didn’t get it.”

We love her talent, we love her honesty, and we love the representation she brings… making Self Esteem a shoo-in for this awards. Congrats, girl!

The Attitude Awards issue is out now.

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