Self Esteem (real name Rebecca Taylor) has never been one to mince her words. Whether speaking openly about queerness, mental health or relationships, her ability to speak honestly to her fans is what makes her so relatable and loveable. With her new album Prioritise Pleasure (out October 22) she is continuing that work, her lyrics covering everything from sexual violence, and consent to how women and femmes are socialised to people please so much we often forget to prioritise what makes us happy.
In a recent live chat at Green Man Festival, Self Esteem spoke about the age-old and frankly very tired narrative that breakups are failures. It's an idea so widely accepted, it seeps into everything we think we know about relationships and the very framework we use to measure their success. And it's a myth we could all benefit from unpicking.
"I go into [relationships] thinking, 'I don't know what this will be'. I see what it is. Communicate as much as possible. Don't change them, won’t let them change me, just accept each other and see how long we want to get off with each other for," she tells me of her approach to dating. "And then if you don't work out, it's not like, 'I'm now back to square one'."
It's a refreshing attitude, and one she came to after seeing so many couples who are considered 'successful' due to the longevity of their relationship, end up unhappy. "I’ve just witnessed everyone being so bloody miserable, but they're not alone. Well, I would rather be alone... being bored kills me, I can’t bear it," she says.
Rebecca, who is bisexual and has had partners of multiple genders, says she is in love with many people at once - romantically and platonically - and that she isn't specifically looking for a long-term relationship.
"[Relationships] in my teens and my 20s were very similar. 'I’m solo, I’ve got nothing, I’ve got nobody. Can’t get a boyfriend. Can’t get a girlfriend. I fuck it up every time.'" she explains. "My heart was broken. It was so horrible that the weight of a partner just can’t be as heavy for me again.
"I've had relationships that aren't just one night stands, but I'm just not someone who has a boyfriend or a girlfriend. At weddings, I don't get plus ones. If I've been with, say, Sarah for five years it's considered legitimate. But if I've been with say Dan for six months, it's not."
She points out that heteronormative couples tend to get automatic legitimacy and are considered successful simply because they've been together for years. "Doesn't matter whether they’re happy. Or having any fun. Or whether they have good sex, which is all what's important to me. None of that matters because they've got the mortgage, the holidays. I don’t have any of that and that gets me down, but what I do get is a hilarious, brilliant life."
Her next single, Moody, plays off the unhappy couple trope. "[The single] is me saying, 'Oh, I'm just moody, and it's up to you if you can be arsed with that'. Because cycle-wise I have PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) and for like 20 days of my cycle I’m just moody."
She goes on to explain, "I want to do like, a ‘We Found Love’ style music video with tropes of heteronormativity. The nagging wife element, with me doing his head in. Obviously playing it off or whatever. Because it becomes a little performance and I think that’s terrifying. I want to not be able to get enough of the person I’m sleeping with, not be like ‘uh’ about them."
Self Esteem's new album Prioritise Pleasure is out on 22nd October via Fiction Records Pre-order it here
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