Estelle: London's Shining Star

Posted by Mack of Sound-Savvy On 11:00 AM

Note: Please be sure to read this story and others in the newest issue of SUAVV MAGAZINE.

“I just do what I do. I think good music is good music ya know? If you like it you like it…”

The artist is the mold from which the pop star is formed; they aren’t given a purpose, they’re born with it. You can’t give an artist tools and experiences to use in the creation; you can only watch as a masterpiece comes to life. And no matter how many spotlights you turn on, only the true artist will shine. As a singer, rapper, songwriter and producer, 28-year-old London girl Estelle Swaray does just that. She took some time to school this American Boy on what she's been doing since the release of her latest album, and sets the record straight on a few things. Be sure to check the FULL STORY version in the latest issue of Suavv Magazine.

Sound-Savvy: As an artist from the UK, with the release of your latest album Shine, were you nervous at all about your crossover to the US charts?
Estelle: Not at all. I just do what I do. I think good music is good music ya know? If you like it you like it. That [location] has nothing to do with it.
SS: As far as the reception of Shine, do you feel the reception was better here or in the UK?
Estelle: I think people are still feelin the first single over here whereas in the UK we’re 5 singles deep because the singles market is quicker. There’s people that have seen me on both sides of the world and we sell out shows everywhere we go; there’s never an Estelle show that’s kinda half-empty. This is my first go-round off one single so I’m happy.
SS: Okay cool. I read an interview that you had done earlier this year where you discussed what you felt like was a racial divide in the promotion of white artists over black artists in the UK. Do you feel like that may have been the reason that your first album (The 18th Day) didn’t see the same success as your latest release?
Estelle: Nah, I think the first album it was more to do with the way it was presented to the label. They took it as they never had an urban artist to do so much. The way it was presented to us it was meant to be some type of fake G-Unit situation and then I make an album that has nothing to do with killing anyone and they didn’t quite know what to do with it. But you know, it was still a rap album so they still had to promote it in the same way they would a rap album but they didn’t quite know what to do with me talking about growing up and having 8 brothers and sisters and, ya know the real stuff that people go through. So they were a little unprepared with my first album, but this time around it worked, because it was like “You know what you can’t…okay you’ve done this, you did this already. Plus I think it’s a better label… a more equipped label I should say. It was never talk of a racial divide with albums, I was talking about 2 specific singles and they took it and ran with it. But people should read the original article and not read the subsequent ones.
SS: Have you experienced any problems like that with the marketing of your singles on the US Charts?
Estelle: No, not at all. The biggest thing to me is the difference in radio. There’s urban radio, pop radio and rhythm radio and I’m confused. I thought radio was radio! But then it’s the same at home but it’s a lot smaller. Over here, every single you do has to go to every radio station and you have to market to everybody. Basically it’s like a presidential campaign, I just realized that. And it’s like ‘Wow’ I didn’t know I have to do all this but it’s great. It’s a lot of work, and that’s why I say I’m still on the first single here but in the UK I’m on my 5th single.
SS: Ahh okay. Now have you had any involvement with other UK artists like Duffy, Leona Lewis and Natasha Bedingfield since they’ve crossed over? Have you guys compared experiences?
Estelle: I know Natasha Bedingfield because we had our first albums out at the same time. I met Leona a good few times, she’s cool as hell. Never met Duffy at all and I think that’s part of her people trying to keep the peace alive. My thing is, I’ve been in it for almost 10 years and she’s got her first single, first album, she’s like 20 or something? Yeah, I’m not beefin with a 20 year old (laughs) ya know? Tell me when you’re 20 and you’ve been doing it this long, and let’s have a conversation. Other than that, do your thing and I’m doing mine and let that be. But I don’t hate her and I don’t particularly care about her music so…
SS: Ahhh I feel you. So let’s switch gears a bit. With the release of your album Shine here in the U.S. there have been a lot of comparisons to Lauryn Hill. Honestly, when I listened to your album, I did get a Lauryn Hill vibe from it, but a lot fresher. How do you feel about the comparisons to Lauryn Hill?
Estelle: What can you say? It’s Lauryn! You can’t be mad at Lauryn (laughs). Lauryn Is Lauryn. I think, ya know, that I come from a different perspective and a different edge. I feel like I don’t come from the same experiences so I don’t feel like people can put me in that lane so they can judge me, ya know? And that’s as simple as it is. But I think people relate us…which isn’t a bad thing
SS: On your new single Pretty Please you worked with Cee-Lo. How was it working with him and why did you choose that for a single?
Estelle: It wasn’t actually a single over here; it was actually a single in the UK. It just kinda floated back. We just liked the video so much, and with Jackie Long and Taraji [Henson] in it we got the BET airplay. But it definitely wasn’t intended to be a single. But I like Cee-Lo, I love Cee-lo! He opens his mouth and the church walks out, ya know? What can you say about Cee-Lo? The next single over here is Come Over, featuring Sean Paul.
SS: Oh man I love that song! I love Come Over!
Estelle: Thank you Rob. Well that’s featuring Mr. Sean Paul and that’s gonna be the next single. I think people will really love that. They haven’t heard the version with Sean Paul yet so they’re just gettin’ to hear it and I think they’ll love it... We just shot the video too and it’s pretty pretty sexy. It’s gonna be sexy
SS: Oooooh nice. I’m really looking forward to that!
Estelle: (laughs)
SS: Yeah, I actually saw you perform that, I went to your concert here in Charlotte back in May and I think you performed that with John Legend, right?
Estelle: Yeah.
SS: Yeah it was really nice, you’re a great performer by the way, lots of energy.
Estelle: Thank you darling.
SS: So Come Over is one of my favorite songs on the album, do you have a favorite song on the album or a favorite video that you’ve shot?
Estelle: My favorite video is American Boy. My second favorite is Come Over. The video is just great. I did the video with Little X and he gets Sean Paul, he’s done a lot of Sean Paul videos. So he understands that ya know it’s a reggae thing and we appreciate reggae but I don’t wanna go out there representing Jamaica cause I’m not from Jamaica, ya know? So he’s like ‘I get it, you’re gonna do the hard wind, but you’re not gonna be out there with a Jamaican flag on your back!’ I was like ‘Right!’ (laughs) and he understood it. Even though it’s where Sean’s from and its Sean’s heritage it’s still important for me to just do me, ya know? And I did. He understood the look and where we were going fashion-wise and let me push what I wanted to push.
SS: That’s gotta be great to have that much freedom and control. A lot of times we see artists that just get stuck in this robotic phase where people just tell them what to do and they just go with it, so I’m really glad that you have that much control and you can do that sort of thing.
Estelle: Im just gonna change my hair in every video, hopin that people might recognize me, so I try not to keep it similar. Blonde wig purple wig, sometimes just do different shit.
SS: So what’s coming up for Estelle? New album?
Estelle: Single’s about to come out with Sean Paul, video will be out in a few weeks. Workin on the new album now. Tryin to think of a name for it now because I want it to have a whole theme and a whole idea. I think it’s gonna come to me in a minute.
SS: Any collaborations with any female artists coming up?
Estelle: Definite… For damn sure I’m really tryin to work with Mary so we’ll see if that works out.
SS: Cool, well on behalf of Suavv Magazine and I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us. You can check us both out online.
Estelle: Oh wicked! I’ll check it out now.
SS: Thanks again Estelle!
Estelle: Alright.

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1 Comment

  1. ODARA Said,

    Very NICE interview!!!

    Posted on October 27, 2008 at 9:40 PM


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