Estelle Talks ‘True Romance’ Album, Kanye West’s Passion & Her Budding Acting Career [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
Three years after the release of her third album All of Me, singer Estelle is back with a new perspective on True Romance. Led by the powerful single, "Conqueror," the album reveals a mature Estelle, a woman who has struggled with heartbreak, embraced her sexuality and is resilient when love knocks her down.
Estelle's time away from the spotlight was spent crafting her latest release but she also put her efforts into other projects, including her own line of accessories, Swaray. She's even releasing a set of scarves inspired by her album cover. The London native also flexed her actin chops as a voice on the animated series Steven Universe and she's slated to appear on FOX’s hit TV series Empire this month.
As busy as she is expanding her empire, Estelle puts music first. The Grammy Award-winning singer (and occasional rapper) chopped it up with The Boombox about her new album, Kanye West's passionate remarks, her budding acting career and why she plans to remain super busy in 2015.
The Boombox: Which song other than "Conqueror" on the album is very personal to you?
Estelle: Every single song on the album is very personal. I am very excited about the album. The album on a whole is about the in-between period, of just being cool with yourself and being 100 percent with yourself in every situation you find yourself in before you end up married to someone or adjoining your life to someone. Those hard parts can be very extreme. I think the song "All That Matters" is a good example of that. I wrote that with the feeling of who I ultimately wanted to be and feel when I am married to somebody.
You have your own label, New London Records. How has that helped you flourish as an independent business woman?
I started my career in '99 with my own independent label. So now with [New London Records] it feels just like a round two. I was used to coming up with my own ideas, spending money on things and really working as much as the label was working. So then I decided why continue to work adversely, when you don't have as much control when you are signed to a label. So we've been having fun with it, we are all a bunch of creatives. My team is pretty awesome.
Watch Estelle's Video for "Conqueror"
You were on Empire on March 4. How did that come about? Is there more acting opportunities you can tell us about?
Well, [the producers] heard "Conqueror" and they were like "We love this record. Can we have it for a scene?" I said sure and then they told me it was a scene with one of my peoples Jussie [Smollet, who plays Jamal Lyon] and I've known him for a few years. I met him when I lived in L.A. for a year or two. I was like, "Oh hell yeah," because Jussie can actually sing; he's got a great voice. It just made sense, especially the storyline with his father being so far from caring about his sexuality.
You're also the voice of a cartoon character on Steven Universe. What's a usual day like working on the show?
We go into the booth and it's almost like recording a song with somebody else because they're all on the West Coast and I'm on the East Coast. We record our parts separately. But it's fun and it's free [creative control]. I mean the directors are great. They let you get as creative as you possibly could within the role of your character -- as much my voice allows. Sometimes they say make this voice or that voice, but I get a lot of free reign in that space.
You worked with Kanye West at the start of your career. What do you think of his bold statements and actions in recent years, specifically saying Beck needs to "respect artistry"?
I don't understand why anyone is thinking about it as a "bold statement." He's a passionate guy and I don't understand why there is ever a question at this point. Kanye is going to speak his mind, so let him speak his mind. But I don't have an opinion either way. I am out here singing my records and doing things for my album.
What are some of the new ventures you're working on in 2015?
I have an accessories line called Swaray. I started making my own scarves because I wear them a lot. It all came from there then we started working with different prints. We did a collaboration for the True Romance album. We have all the different prints for the artwork. They are really pretty. From there, we have gotten more interest in collaborations and working with different artists and designers. We have something we are working on for this fall. I am also getting into more acting, producing and writing.
Over the years you have evolved into quite the fashionista. What influences your style?
Comfortability. I don't like to be out there doing too many things for the sake of doing too many things. I think when I came out as bold as I came out with half a head shaved, I was definitely way more respected and confident and I'm like well, now you've just got to be Grace jones forever. But I figured I am a grown lady and I should I dress by how I feel not according to what everyone else thinks... and I get bored easily. I hate trends. My body doesn't necessarily work with trends, if that makes sense. So if everyone is naked, cool, I am not for all that stuff. I just do what works for me and by body.
Who are some of the most stylist musicians in your eyes?
Well, definitely Solange. Her patterns and some of the risks she takes, like Diana Ross' influence, she does it brilliantly. I love Tracee Ellis Ross' style as well.