Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Feature

Estelle: Stylish Moves

Estelle @bluesandsoul.com
Estelle @bluesandsoul.com Estelle @bluesandsoul.com

There is definitely something about the Estelle story that smacks of the fairy tale.  There she was in the winter of 2007 sitting in her house in Brentford, working out how she was going to pay the next mortgage instalment and asking God why it had to all be so difficult. 
 
Little did she know that just 6 months later, her life would be practically unrecognisable.  After signing to John Legends label HomeSchool Records/Atlantic, and releasing the single "American Boy" featuring Kanye West, Estelle was catapulted to international stardom.  Estelle describes "American Boy" as a âjuggernaut of a tune.'  Produced by will.I.am of the Black Eyed Peas, it won her a much coveted Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and would go on to sell a staggering 2 million copies worldwide.  Her subsequent album "Shine" went Gold in the UK and broke the US market.
 
Three years prior to this scene in 2004, Estelle had been the most talked about MC in the UK.  Her debut album "The 18th Day" spawned a UK top 20 hit and MOBO had heralded her the Best Newcomer of the Year.  This was undoubtedly a great start for the twenty-five year old West-Londoner, but soon after all the initial excitement had worn off, she was dropped by her record company.  âThey didnât really know what to do with meâ¦and after a while no-one wanted to take a risk on meâ But Estelle tells me that she learnt about determination and purpose from her Senegalese mother and grand-mother, so would never give up on her dream.
 
Iâm talking to Estelle, in New York the day after her 32nd birthday. Growing up in a council flat in Hammersmith, one of seven children, Estelle was taught to âgo getâ what she wanted in life.  âIâm not going to front, it was crazy sometimes, but it was all fun.  I grew up in a house full of music.  Everything from reggae, and afro-beat to Zook and pop.  If mum couldnât afford to send me on a school trip, Iâd look at it like, Iâll get it when I get it.  She taught me to believe I deserved whatever I wanted in lifeâ.
 
Estelle is telling me about her brand new album "All Of Me." âI didnât release anything sooner because I wanted to make a real record.  I had to go away and live a bit.  Thatâs how I make music.  I make it to last.  I want it to really mean something, so it needs to come from a real place.â  
 
"All Of Me" is definitely autobiographical.  âI choose the title because I believe you canât apologise for who you are, youâve got to do you and get on with it.  I also wanted all the pain and joy in thereâ she continues, âI want you to cry when I cry."  She gives the example of "Break My Heart," (featuring Rick Ross) a track that was inspired by a conversation she had with her now ex-boyfriend about how seriously he was viewing their relationship.  âIâve parted ways with him now. I was with him for three years, but he didnât quite measure up to my expectations. 'Thank You' is written by Akon, and when I first heard it, I was blown away. It makes me cry every time I sing it.  The point is, weâve all felt like this at some point in our lives.  Thatâs what I wanted to express with this albumâ.
 
The lyrics to "Do My Thing" were written by Ne-Yo in an hour.  âThat mans a geniusâ Estelle laughs, "Heâs got such a way with words.  I decided to get Janelle Monae on the record because I get her style and energy.  I love working with Janelle, sheâs so singular and genuinely nice energy.  She came in and killed it.  Her vocals are so beautiful on this record.  âDo My Thingâ, thatâs about me and her saying, we do our thing, it might be a bit different, but thatâs what lifeâs about!â

Estelle's new album "All Of Me" is released March 12 on HomeSchool/Atlantic Records

YOU CAN READ MORE FROM ESTELLE BINGHAM'S INTERVIEW WITH ESTELLE - INCLUDING ESTELLE'S THOUGHTS ON ALBUM COLABORATOR JANELLE MONAE + WHAT ESTELLE DOESN'T LIKE ABOUT CREATING A NEW ALBUM - ALL IN OUR PRINTED VERSION OF B&S OUT NOW - CLICK BELOW TO ORDER YOU COPY NOW.

PHOTOS: KEITH MAJOR
Words Estelle Bingham

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