It’s been 10 years since one song catapulted British singer-songwriter Estelle to fame, and since reaching the top of the charts, she hasn’t looked back. The musician teamed up with Kanye West for “American Boy,” an insanely catchy hybrid of pop hooks, electronic production and a particularly memorable verse from West, and all that culminated in one of the most memorable hits from the past several decades.
Now, Estelle has a new album out, and this one might mean more to her than any of her other works...but that doesn’t mean she isn’t also keeping busy with plenty of other projects. Read all about the Grammy winner's new tunes, her work outside of music, and what she has coming up.
Congrats on your new album! What made you want to go deep into reggae with this one?
Thanks! It was a natural progression. I've always done reggae on my albums, so this is kind of a compilation of that energy that I feel has sort of been creeping up all the way through my career.
When you try new things sonically, are you ever worried about how fans might react?
Nope. I've always done "new things" on my albums. No album is ever one genre, so my fans know to expect something "new.” This album mixes soca and afrobeats, too.
You have some really great features on this record from the reggae world. How did you find them and how did you decide who to ask to appear on the album?
I'm fans of them all. I asked and they said yes! No hesitation. I'm happy because everyone I asked makes perfect sense for each record. That’s how I like to work. Features are not just about the hype but to make GREAT life-changing records that remain as part of my legacy.
What made you want to create an album that tells the story of your parents and their love?
My albums are primarily about my love and life as they relate to themselves, I write from a deeply personal space which is what takes me so long.
I started writing records and realized I was repeating my stories and therefore my life patterns, and I realized that I had some self-work to do. I started talking to my parents as was suggested in therapy and discovered more about their beautiful love story, but also saw reflections of my behavior and thought I’d like a different ending to my life.
You can't heal what you don't reveal. I’m notoriously quiet about my personal life, but it's affected me in so many ways. I wanted to honor this glorious story that so many people can relate to, but also free myself from having to live it over and over again.
Tell me about the title. Why is that significant?
Lovers rock is a subgenre of reggae music that began in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, exactly the period I was born - 1980. The lovers rock sound formed the soundtrack to my parents love story, but also became the literal backdrop to my childhood.
In addition to making music, you have a lot going on outside of this industry. What else is happening with your acting roles and everything else?
I'm acting! I've done a bunch of small roles, and am constantly going out for roles. Also, I'm the voice of Garnet on Steven Universe, an animated show on Cartoon Network.
I have a film and TV development company, Est 1980 productions, and we gather and help develop TV, film, documentary and music ideas for broadcast.
My Label Est 1980 Inc has artists Nick & Navi—twin sisters from California via Chicago and Jamaica—who are brilliant musicians and self-starters in music and fashion. They currently have a record out called "Hot" and we are working on a new EP and album with them.
Also, Elle-Vie.com is my curated fashion site. I am sent so many amazing pieces and stumble on so many great new designers - with the way that we consume fashion nowadays it’s a great place for newer designers to exist in a specially curated virtual marketplace.
It's been 10 years since "American Boy," the song that helped millions of people catch on to your music and which won you a Grammy. Are you planning on doing anything to celebrate?
Yes, we'll do a re-release of “American Boy” with special remixes. So look out for that. I may do a special show date also...stay tuned to my Instagram.
What's on your schedule for the rest of 2018 and 2019?
More Lovers Rock and a tour early 2018