After spending a decade as part of indie duo Slow Club, Rebecca Taylor launched her solo project Self Esteem. The week after supporting Florence and the Machine at Edinburgh Summer Sessions, while on “a sunny walk” in Sheffield where she’s from, she talks to Sam Bennett about missing out on a Mercury Prize nomination, her album Compliments Please, and returning to Oxford for Ritual Union Festival in October.
How did the Florence gigs go?
Great. I’d never met Florence before, she got in touch when Compliments Please came out (she really likes it) and invited us on her shows. She always has really good support – Young Fathers have supported her on the High as Hope tour – she picks who she wants. On the first night there was torrential rain and storms, so we didn’t think it was going to happen. About an hour before stage time we were still sat in the van – then we got the ok. Her audience were really good for me – they get it.
Do you ever wish you’d started Self Esteem sooner?
Yeah, of course I do [laughs] it’s my main sadness… but then if I hadn’t done what I did before, Self Esteem might not be what it is now. I don’t know… it’s depressing, but you literally can’t do anything about time.
Do you see yourself as more of a role model now that you’re fronting your own project?
I wouldn’t say I’m a role model, ever, because I don’t do my life very well. But I definitely finally feel like I’m represented, which is difficult to do when you’re in a band with someone else because you have to respect their boundaries – my boundaries are quite a lot wider and weirder. I’m happy to be opening myself up now and don’t feel bad about it.
What were the best things about being in Slow Club?
It was my whole twenties. We travelled the world, learnt how to make music and how to play shows. We played so many gigs that now, in Self Esteem, I know how to put a gig on.
On Instagram you posted a video of your reaction to not being nominated for the Mercuries this year. Firstly, you’re eating a white chocolate Magnum in it – good shout.
Secondly, who would you like to see win?
Cate Le Bon because she’s my buddy. The whole thing’s been quite funny. We were excited about it and then it didn’t happen, but I think that’s pretty Self Esteem – it’s important I don’t fully succeed at any point or I might become a monster. Imagine my ego actually being proved right… it would be a nightmare.
How did the title Compliments Please come about?
It was always on my radar as a phrase. It’s backfired because people actively don’t give me compliments about it – I’ve learnt from that, the next one will be called I'm Not Bothered.
What album titles have you actually got planned?
I know what the next album’s called, but I’m not going to tell you. That’s an exclusive. I’d need £25 putting in my Monzo.
You’re coming to Oxford for Ritual Union Festival – are you familiar with the city?
I did a panto a few years ago at the Playhouse.
What was it?
Jack and the Beanstalk.
Oh my God! I saw that.
Yeah… I was a fucking fairy. When you leave a band and go solo, times are hard on the old wallet. So, this is my triumphant return to Oxfordshire.
Would you ever do pantomime again?
Depends how badly my next album goes.
Do you know what other artists are on the Ritual bill?
Are Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs on?
I love them.
And Psychedelic Porn Crumpets…
I like them too. I’m excited for the fusion of genres – you can put that, that’s a good quote.
Are you recording at the moment?
I’m writing and demoing. I’m eager to get on with the next album. Apparently I’ve got to have a holiday and stop thinking about it.
Do management tell you that?
Yeah, just because I’m mental. They’re like ‘you’ve done quite a lot this year, you can chill out.’ But I don’t really do that. I’m going to burn out at 52 – it’s going to be fine.
Ritual Union takes place 18 October, at various Cowley Road venues. Compliments Please is available now.
Photography: Charlotte Patmore