As the question was posed, “How has life changed for you?” you could visibly see the wheels spinning in Estelle’s mind, the immensely talented British singer who exploded onto the national scene with 2008’s “American Boy.” For her, the answer was a lot more complicated than the typical musician’s answer of “my music is more mature now.”
Since her last album, Estelle’s life has seen ups, downs, lost love, broken friendships and so much more. But through it all, what’s most important is that her life’s journey has renewed her passion for music, which has, in turn, brought us a new album of songs, titled All of Me.
The new music and new life perspective brought Estelle front and center with rolling out to discuss the path that led her to this moment of renewal.
Lately, you have been on a whirlwind promotional tour. You’ve got to fill us in on what you’ve been up to.
I am everywhere right now. And it’s a good thing when people want to see you, because it means that you are doing the right thing musically. I just completed a new album, and I’m excited. It took me three years to get it together and I am finally at a place of peace about it. I have nothing else to write about, and I feel like I am at a place where I can put this music out and sing it with passion and conviction. That’s what takes me the longest, being able to write and sing songs that I actually care about … I finally have that with this album.
What were you going through over the past three years that made it so hard to make music?
Oh boy, where do I begin? It’s just been a busy three years. “American Boy” was a juggernaut and it kept me busy. That was the last song that I recorded for that album, and it just took off with all of the remixes, and it’s being used for “American Idol.” That train took off so fast that I was on the back of it, hanging on for dear life. So as my profile got higher, people who I thought were close friends started losing their minds. And I understand that when you enter show business, you’re going to gain some friends and lose some friends, but I really didn’t expect this. I would be on tour buses with people who would be smiling in my face, but then going behind my back and talking so bad about me. And I would get that on my team, with my friends and with my family. [There] was just a lot going on.
How did that affect your music?
It made me not want to do this anymore. I was dealing with the people in my life changing and also dealing with fans only wanting to hear “American Boy.” Like, they would get mad if I sang anything else, and for me, that got to be so frustrating. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love where that song has taken me, but I just wanted to be an artist and have people listen to and appreciate all of my work. But that didn’t seem to be possible. So, I became very bitter and very disenchanted with it all.
What changed in your life to help you return to a place of happiness with your music?
I just disconnected from it all and went back into the studio. I shut out the world as much as I could, and I just fell back in love with music. It was something that I needed to do, and it helped me arrive here. I even broke up with my boyfriend of three years and also cut out a lot of other people from my life. For me, this just feels like a fresh start on so many levels.
Three years is a long time to be in a relationship. When will you be ready for love again?
Who knows? The reality is that love can happen at any time. It can happen tomorrow, it can happen two weeks from now, it can happen six years from now. Now, though, I’m just enjoying people dating me. Before, I never let people date me … I just always dated guys who I assumed couldn’t take me out.
So what has changed?
I just decided that I was worth a man taking me out. So, I’ve been having fun letting men date me. I had to reorder myself and tell myself that I was worth them taking me out, and proving to me that they are worth my time, my energy, and ultimately, my love. I don’t [think] that women do that enough … but we should because we are all special and worthy of a man treating us in that way.
The question has to be asked: Are you a good catch?
Oh, I’m a great catch. I’m a good ass woman … I think that my ex-boyfriend would attest to that. I’m super loyal, almost to a fault. It’s so bad that I was doing a video, and I had a sexy scene that I had to do. But I couldn’t really put myself into it because all I could think about was him. I’m that person. I go all the way in for my guy. When I’m in, I’m in.
Switching gears back to the album, how is this work going to speak to the public?
I think that the first time around, all people thought I had was “American Boy.” I had this big pop record, and John legend co-signed the hell out of me, and that’s all people knew. They didn’t know that I had my own record label at the age of 19, or any other thing about my story. But now, with this record, they will get to know all about me. They will get to know that I am a grown ass woman who sometimes feels beautiful, sometimes feels ignorant, sometimes feels silly … I accept everything that is both wrong and right about me. Period. Every song is so empowering to me, and I am so excited for the world to hear this album. I think they will appreciate the story that I have to tell and the passion in how I tell it.