Self Esteem on composing for Jodie Comer's play Prime Facie and challenging misogyny with music
Watch highlights from Self Esteem's interview with ITV News Arts Editor Nina Nannar or listen to our podcast, Unscripted, below for the full conversation
Rebecca Lucy Taylor, better known by her stage name Self Esteem, resents the fact that if she dies without having a child some might see her as a failure as a woman.
She also rails against a world where women feel threatened if they are out at night, where being a certain shape and wearing certain clothes are the kinds of expectations heaped on women. And she doesn’t just talk the talk.
In her two acclaimed albums - Compliments Please and her latest Prioritise Pleasure - she deals with all of those subjects. It's what she calls her Trojan way of highlighting issues close to her, while delivering them in infectious pop songs.
Her latest project is on a different kind of stage – the West End. She was invited to compose the music for a new production called Prima Facie, written by Suzie Miller and starring Jodie Comer.
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She plays a working-class lawyer who has risen through the ranks, specialising in sexual offences. When she herself suffers a sexual assault, she finds herself facing the same hurdles that other victims of sexual crimes often do, and trying to get a patriarchal legal system to believe her.
Taylor says her last album could almost be the soundtrack for the production already.
It deals with similar issues, and at heart it’s an examination of what it can be like to be a woman today: the insecurities she’s faced, heartbreak, sexism, misogyny, being told to look and behave a certain way.
She points to a recent review of one of her concerts – and a comment about how she should have worn something different – I bet they don’t comment on Chris Martin’s stage clothes, she says. The fact that she has music to express all these views and frustrations gives her a power that fans are lapping up – her songs are anthems for her concert audiences.
After leaving the band Slow Club, a Sheffield-based duo she was part of since her teens, Taylor discovered her musical calling and her self-esteem, hence the name.
Now a bona fide pop star she has faced questions about the fact that she began her solo pop career in her 30s, in an industry where youth is valued highly.
She has days when she doubts her right to be a pop singer at the age of 35, she says, but then remembers that she’s never looked or sounded better, has higher creativity and, of course, now is in the West End.
She adds that a theatre can be alienating for some, and she hopes that her involvement alongside the powerhouse that is Jodie Comer gives people an added incentive to give it a try.
Rebecca Taylor is an infectious presence: forthright, eloquent and funny. She has critics swooning, has famous fans and is in demand.
This is her moment.