By Sierra Porter
Estelle, the British singer, and songwriter have been no stranger to the music industry releasing music beginning in 2003. However, she rose to prominence in America in 2008 with her hit single “American Boy” featuring Kanye West from her album Shine. In the 2009 GRAMMY Awards, Estelle won an award for Best Rap/Sung Performance.
The songstress went on to release projects like All of Me in 2012 and True Romance in 2015. Estelle has returned to her West Indian roots with her 2018 album Lovers Rock. So far, Estelle has released music videos for records “Better,” “So Easy,” and “The Mike & Deen Story.” Currently, on tour and gearing up for the road yet again, Estelle discusses the story behind her LP, performing in the south, possibly working with Kanye West, plus more.
Tell me about the inspiration behind your new reggae album Lovers Rock?
Lovers Rock is based on my parents’ love story and the idea that you can have love at anytime or place. They had my two sisters and me and were separated for twenty years. My mom got married, had five other children and then she got divorced. My parents met the same year again that she got divorced and they’ve been together for five years ever since. The whole story to me was a reawakening that I was going through. I had to learn them and get some things right with myself.
What was it like working with actor and musician Luke James on the project?
I’ve known Luke James for over ten years at this point. He’s a sweetheart and a very nice guy. We met when we were about to go on tour with BET, and we went into the studio while wrapping up my second album True Romance. We recorded this record called “So Easy” in 2012 with Jerry Wonder. By the time we came around for this album, I had gone back working with Jerry, and I was like, ‘Hey, let’s work on the records and he’s like, ‘hold on, remember that record that you did with dude? And I was like, well, ‘I think we have a record.’ We didn’t have to do anything again.
You performed here in Atlanta at the City Winery on Feb.11, what was the crowd’s response to your new music?
I think they had a ball. They cheered, it was sold out, and to me, it was just beautiful. Atlanta came up and turned up with us and had a good time.
How much do you love performing in Southern cities like Atlanta? Why?
I found I had the most fun when I would go to Atlanta, New Orleans, or Miami. It feels like home to a degree. I found I had the most amount of fun in those cities in general; it’s always just good vibes.
How has your sound grown or matured since your 2015 project True Romance?
Oh, the freedom. I was doing things a little differently on True Romance; it was a bit more like, well let me try this, let me try that. The recurring favorite from True Romance other than the “Conqueror” was “All That Matters.” It was like the first record and the last record or the ones that people love the most. Everyone keeps telling me that “All That Matters” is their wedding song or their favorite love song.
What do you do in between your album releases?
Living, because I write about my life. I have my l own label called the New London Record. I’m working with new artists, writing projects, writing out proposals for TV. I’m consistently doing shows, recording and then in between all of that catch up with my friends, do regular things. The reason why my music is good because I take a minute, and I go live a little bit and put some reality behind it because I want it to be here forever. My idols are the people that has longevity in the game such as Mary J Blige and Faith.
When your Grammy-award winning song “American Boy” was released, did you expect it to have such a massive response from the masses? What were your initial thoughts after finding out the record was nominated for a Grammy?
I knew the record was going to be good. I had the blessing of being able to have a career in the U.K. way before I got to the U.S. When I heard “American Boy,” I was like ‘duh, this is a hit, people are going love it.’ Even before Kanye got on it, I was like this is a hit. I judged it on the reaction of everybody in a room whenever I played it; everyone would be like, oh my goodness, this is so good. It didn’t matter race, age, or vibe. The joy people felt in that full moment is something I’m just grateful for.
I had no clue that this was going to be GRAMMY worthy. We were on the road, and I remember being in Europe doing the European part of the tour run, it was like four in the morning. It was eight at night for my team in L.A., and they called me like you got two Grammy nominations. I remember thinking like OMG! I think we bought out the hotel and did a whole dance on the tour bus. I never take it for granted, and I’m super grateful.
Would you consider doing another collaboration with Kanye West considering all the controversy surrounding his support for President Donald Trump?
I’ve known Ye since 2002, and I don’t see that we have too much in common other than just music, but my viewpoint of working with people isn’t based on their politics. I refused to judge him as a human because we all change. You look at the fact the same people who were one week cussing him out are the same people who were turning up at the Sunday services. The song would just have to be right, you know?
What is currently on your playlist? Who are you listening to?
I haven’t taken off Beck’s last album, Colors. Now, Megan the Stallion is my new favorite. That whole Tina Snow album gets me through work. It keeps you hype. I like it because it shows owning yourself as a woman and f**k all the opinions people have of your life.
What’s next for you?
I’m doing the next round of tour dates in April, so we’re doing the west coast, and I think the south right after that. I’m in a film that comes out on BET called Back to the Goode Life in April. I’m excited about that because it’s my first role of me not singing. I’m writing TV pitches and I have a documentary coming out that talks about this entire Lovers Rock project. I’m analyzing how we look at our parents’ relationship and sometimes pick an unhealthy and occasionally healthy path. Then you hit a point of realizing that that’s not who you are and then you start again. I’ve interviewed my mom and my dad and talk to them about their story, and there are other stars and other artists who helped me through the album that will be in the documentary.
This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Voice.