The “American Boy” R&B Songstress, Estelle, Chats About Her Latest Album, “True Romance”, Being on the Hit TV Show, Empire and Much More!
Posted On 30 Mar 2015
Tag: All Access, All Access Music Group, All Of Me, American Boy, Artist Interview, Barbara Streisand, Canadian, Cartoon Network, Conqueror, David Guetta, Dynasty, Empire, Estelle, Fox, Gladys Knight, Grammy, John Legend, Kanye West, Lionel Richie, Martina McBride, Mary J Blige, Minnie Ripperton, Misty Copeland, Nashville, Robin Thicke, Shine, Sia, Skyville Live, Steven Universe, Stevie Wonder, Tony Bennett, True Romance
Estelle is a Grammy Award winning Pop & R&B songstress. Her latest album, True Romance was released last month on February 17th. “Conqueror” is just one inspirational single found on the collection. True Romance explores the themes, passion, courage, true romance and the bs. It is about finding love and happiness on your own terms.
In the following interview with Estelle, she explains these themes of the album further. She also talks about the hit FOX show, Empire, which she got to act in this season. In addition, Estelle reveals what it was like singing with her idol, Gladys Knight and Martina McBride during the first-ever Skyville Live webcast in Nashville.
Learn all this and much more in the following interview with Estelle:
Growing up, was there ever a time when you wanted to be something other then a performer?
No. Pretty much that was it. I knew I was going to be involved with music in some format. I knew I was going sing or I was going to write, arrange or produce music. I was going to do something in those fields. I tried different careers and they just didn’t work. I never was fulfilled so that’s kind of what it was going to be.
What was it like growing up in a household with 7 siblings?!
It was loud but cool. There are actually 9 of us total now. It was good. There was lots of energy. It worked out. I am absolutely close with every single one of them now today which is great.
You’ve collaborated with so many incredible artists. David Guetta, John Legend, Robin Thicke, Kanye West and more. What collaboration has really stood out to you and meant the most?
Well, I have known John Legend for 10 years. He was part of making my first two US releases. So, that’s one. But also I can’t discount doing “American Boy” with Kanye. He’s a great guy and a facilitator of one of my records. That song was part of my re-birth. I’ve been blessed to work with a lot of great men! Now, I’m on the journey to find great female collaborators.
Who would you still love to work with in the future?
There are so many women and so many men. I mean, yeah, there’s so many. Take the different genres.. There’s Tony Bennett and then there’s Lionel Richie, and Barbara Streisand and then there’s Diana Ross. I just sang with Gladys Knight actually. You really get to legendary levels after awhile.
Did you know that “American Boy” was going to be so successful? Did you know it was going to be the hit that it was?
Yeah, I did. (Haha) It was going to be what it was going to be. I think everyone saw the light in people’s eyes and they reacted to it. You don’t go on the reviews or predictions of people. I go on the genuine reactions of people I know and people that I see and people that come to the studio or even complete strangers and babies! They’ll tell you. Kids will tell you.
You just released True Romance. It’s been a few years since you’ve released anything. Why that gap of time?
It’s been 3 years. You know, I had to live life and I had to take time to write the record. I had to make sure it was right. I think I create albums that when they come out, I don’t need another one right away. I do write at an alarming speed. There’s a lot of music. Sometimes, by the time I write one song, the energy of the record has changed so I don’t have to go back maybe and re-vamp. That’s my process and it takes a minute. I don’t microwave songs. Some of the bigger artists are coming out with two or three albums a year, there may be a few re-vamped versions of their album but that one album took 3 years to get to. They are doing other things in between. That’s not me.
How exactly is this album anchored by the themes – passion, courage, true romance and the bullshit?
They are real life themes. Some days I am really polite and some days I’m not. That’s what this album is about. It’s a real human account of what happens in the between and when you are trying to just live and trying to get to true romance. I take hold of that and I do it.
Well, I was working with a bunch of producers and songwriters towards the end of the album and I wanted one song that we could all relate to. I wanted a song that really touches people’s spirits and they played this song for me. I said, “This is wonderful! Let’s go cut it.” They said, “Are you sure? Do you want to hear it again?” And I said, “No. Go cut that one.” There’s something about the words and the feeling of the song that really resonated with me.
This industry changes so much and everyone is always telling you who you should be and I always say, “I’m going to do what the hell I want to do.” So the song is about standing on my own terms. This song to me is the feeling that no matter what, you’ll be alright. You’ll get through it and you will be OK.
How did you get the ballerina, Misty Copeland to dance in one of your videos for “Conqueror”?
She loved the song. I’ve been to watch her dance at the Opera so I’ve been a fan of her’s. I played the song for her and I asked her to dance and she said yes! She is an amazing looking woman. There’s so much muscle on her body. It makes me want to go to the gym everyday! She’s an inspiration in perseverance and an inspiration in staying power. I think the song goes well with that. She’s still here maintaining. She’s getting more awesome and really inspiring young girls who thought that they couldn’t be ballerinas. Yes, you can be ballerinas. You can see that as an option. It’s a reality. That’s what we are aiming for and to really touch people.
Let’s talk about the mega smash hit TV show, Empire!
It’s the best show ever. I love it! If you haven’t seen it, go watch it now! (Haha) You’ll binge watch it for sure! Now, I may be a bit biased because I know a lot of the actors. But either way, they do so well.
Yes, I’m featured in one of the episodes. When I first read the script and I was reading about it, I was like this is going to be dope! I know Taraji who plays Cookie. She’s actually in one of my videos. So we’ve been friends for awhile so it’s amazing to watch her just continue to soar and watch her be Cookie. She is brillant! Oh my word! She’s amazing.
It was an honor to be apart of it. There’s some really amazing powerful characters that are reminiscent of people in the music industry. (Haha) And it’s fun to watch. Its almost like watching like Dynasty. It’s awesomely glamorous. My episode was back in early March and I sang a duet with one of the lead characters, Jussie playing Jamal. It’s great. He’s got a great voice either way but watching him do it in person. He’s the real deal, a great actor and great singer.
What was it like singing with Gladys Knight in Nashville?
Oh my word! I just stood there and learned. I literally just stood there with her and Martina McBride and just learned. I mean, that’s how you do it. That’s how you get there to watch a legend. It was a reminder. This is how you set yourself up to be great. It was amazing being there. I was like whoa. I was like, “Wow, I should probably sing really good tonight!” (Haha) It was quite a moment.
How did your foundation, All of Me get started originally? What do you hope to accomplish through it?
Well the foundation was a reaction to me wanting to find a way to help inspire kids that ask “How do I become a singer, or how do I become rich?” I wanted them to know that there are many other things out there then that. It was about the fact that people are coming to me with wrong ideas about all that. That’s not going to help.
So I was mentored so I wanted to give that back. I partnered up with 5 organizations. I helped raise funds and more. I work with 10 children across the Atlantic and UK. And I personally support them and give them the help they need and partner them up with people who do the actual work that people talk about doing.
It’s relatively new organization. For the past three years, we’ve been really in action. Our first year, we sent kids to Senegal. For some of them, it was their first time out of the country so that was a huge moment. Some of their paretns got to come too so it was really cool.
How did you get involved with the Cartoon Network show, Steven Universe as the lead animated role?
Well, I’ve always had a passion for voice over work. I’ve done jingles and all that and I’ve been telling people that I’ve really like to do a cartoon. And this came up. I auditioned and I got it and I was so excited. The process has been such a learning process. Every time I go in, they tell you to change your voice and what to do. You feel like it’s a training. It’s a whole other feeling then recording an album. It’s more vocal training, which is pretty cool and it’s fun too. We are recording once or twice a week sometimes in LA but mostly in New York.
What artists have consistently inspired you through the years?
I think at the start of my year, it was Mary J. Blige, I got to the middle of my career and it was Stevie Wonder and Minnie Ripperton,I listened to them when I was younger and I kinda rediscovered them when I was older and then it kinda moved over to Sia, she’s been a different inspiration for me for the past 5 years. She’ so good. I’m around so many great artists all the time and you absorb them. I absorb the most that I can. I just want to be better all the time.
We will be touring all March, April and May. Everything will be on the site. We actually finished a tour in December which was a mini presentation tour.
Is there anything in particular you’d like people to take away from this album?
I want people to take away that it’s alright to be human and it’s OK to live and be who you are and who you want to be. It’s ok to be in love. It’s ok to be. We get so many restrictions and expectations placed on us, I don’t think it’s healthy or right. Music is the one place you should be able to express who you want to be and if this album makes you feel that way whether you are a singer, a doctor, whatever just know that it’s ok to be human being, its’ ok to be honest. Whatever you want to do, it’s OK. Just try to be loving when you do it.