In the beginning Self Esteem was a joke - or at least a half-joke. A band name coined 10 years ago, by the singer Rebecca Taylor as two fingers to the insecurities and self-doubts that had long mithered her life. But over the past 18 months, Self Esteem has come to mean something more; the humour fading as the name has reflected the shift in Taylor's own opinion of herself and her place in music.
Taylor was always wrestling with the task of reducing herself, with the challenge of being quieter, smaller, well behaved. Raised to try to be "good and polite and ladylike", at school in Sheffield she was the consummate performer, the girl they "wheeled out when the Korean exchange was there and I'd give my Fantine again."
But always she felt she was containing herself. "Because I was mad and loud and all my school reports said 'She's too much'. I felt what I was really like was squashed," she says. "And then I went straight into the band, and I was Too Much there as well."
The band was Slow Club, the duo Taylor formed with Charles Watson in 2006 and recorded five albums, including 2016's critically acclaimed, Matthew E White - produced 'One Day All of This Won't Matter Any More'. While the band enjoyed success and great adoration, the fact of being in a duo at times left Taylor feeling somehow crushed. "I had to grow up half of something," says Rebecca Taylor. "Ever since I was 17, I couldn't be 100% myself because Slow Club represented two people. There would be the moments on stage when I would let rip, but I was always a meek version of me."
When Slow Club announced they were placing the band on the backburner to pursue solo projects, there was an immediate musical divergence: Watson strode off in the direction of warm west coast folk rock. Taylor, the band's extraordinary, heart-swelling vocalist, took a different route.
In her post - Slow Club life she decided there would be no compromises, no reducing herself, no hesitating. She would write the songs that had been rising up inside her all these years - big songs, that spoke of love and sex and chaos, that brought in huge basslines, gospel choirs, the kind of polished, provocative production she admired on the biggest pop records. Songs that could be danced to, lost in, devoured. That captured, finally, the enormity of what she wanted to be.
It's been a long time since we had a big British pop star, and in that time the landscape - musical, political, sexual, has changed markedly. What 'Compliments Please' brings is a new kind of pop - not the processed, conveyor belt, teen fodder of yesteryear, but something proudly, powerfully female.
The album received acclaim across the music industry and her live show is a very different beast to Slow Club. We are thrilled to have her performing at AYL.
"her new alter ego provides an exceptionally welcome fresh start for the Yorkshire-born songwriter"