Interview Series: Estelle Speaks to

She may be a born-and-raised West London girl, but Estelle Swaray is right at home in the energy of New York, her newly adopted city. She’s got the self-determination with a bit of swagger. The get-up-and-go hustle. And this is one singer/songwriter/producer/rapper who is not afraid to take risks.

She was the first artist to release under John Legend’s Homeschool label, in partnership with Atlantic Records. Her American debut album “Shine” featured the huge hit single “American Boy” featuring Kanye West. Estelle is finishing up her up-coming release “All Of Me” due out in September and currently getting ready to premiere the video for the lead single “Break My Heart” featuring Rick Ross!

Recently J. Dot from caught up with Estelle to speak with her for our Black Music Month Interview Series! Estelle speaks about her up-coming album, who she worked with on the new album, her new single & video with Rick Ross, The British Invasion, what Black Music means to her and much more!

————————————— When can fans expect “All of Me” and what can they expect from this release?
Estelle: It will come out around September. I took about two years off to just live a little bit. I’m definitely not one of those artists to just put music out there without feeling it. I write 90% of my records, so I have to live a little bit and really get into. I had to take time with this album, make sure it was right and pick the right producers and collaborators. I would describe this album as the stages of my life. This album is for my fans and family. What made you go with “Break My Heart” for the lead single and how did you hook up with Rick Ross?
Estelle: It just felt good. I had the beat sitting there for a while. I wrote and recorded it and the reaction from everyone was like “where the hell did this come from?” Then we sent it to Rick Ross and he was like I’ve been a fan of yours since the first album and he said he always wanted to work with me. We sent him the track; he layed down his vocals and it was perfect. Who else did you have the chance to work with for “All Of Me?”
Estelle: Producer wise I did a lot of stuff with Jerry Wonder (Wyclef, Fugees) from Platinum Sounds. I wrote this song called “Back to Love Again” with him. He was one of the first people I got on with. I wrote it and he produced it. It’s very easy to work with him. It’s like family, very easy. Never any drama or egos. We go in and do the best for the record. I also did a song with No I.D. called “Victorious” featuring Common. It was another great writing/producing process. I did another record that Ne-Yo wrote that features Janelle Monae. The song talks about being different and flaunting it because we can. We are definitely the ones that don’t give a shit. We knocked it out and killed it. It was so fun recording with her because the industry tries to put us female artists against each other and that didn’t apply to us. We had a great time recording the record. The British invasion has taken over. How do you feel about other UK counterparts Estelle, Jessie J & Tinie Tempah.

Estelle: Let me tell you, every three years they are talking about the “British invasion.” It’s been ongoing. It’s been an invasion for the last 10 years. We are here! We crossed over. I’m like one of the first black British artists to come over here and win a Grammy. We are here! I don’t personally know Jessie J or Adele. I’ve met and hung out with Tinie. I’ve seen his whole run down, so I respect the hell out of him. He’s a hustler, he gets it and he’s working three steps ahead. He’s learned from the elders and he does it right. That’s one of the things that I’m so happy about. A lot of people get over here and loose their minds and do some stupid shit. So I’m proud of him. Jessie J; same thing… I don’t know much about her, she has her own swagger and she does her own thing. Adele; I’m a big fan of really good singers and voices. She has a brilliant voice. We had a little thing that the media blew into a beef between the two of us, but we met at the Grammy’s and it was all love. You can’t pay attention to the media trying to start stuff. Tell me about the two tracks that previously came out “Fall in Love” and “Freak.”
Estelle: These weren’t literally album tracks. I’ve been recording for almost three years. People were asking me every single day where the new music is, I need a new song. A couple years ago, people that actually used to take the time out to write records, they did that. They would say give me five minutes and put out a record. So due to the demand I said, here’s “Freak” cause that sounds like now…take that. Here’s “Fall in Love” because that reminds you of American Boy. Hold them both and leave me alone for a minute. Let me live. I need to take some time off to write. I have to live this for the next three years of my life every single day. I take it very serious because the music changes people’s lives. Every single record/album I put out…people come up to me and say on your first album “Free” helped me leave this guy that was abusing me, and “Free” helped me do that. Or someone might say “Just a Touch” was just my shit and you helped me do this as a black girl. Or “American Boy” makes me happy and helped me get skinnier on the treadmill. It changes people’s lives. I can’t just put any old thing out. I can’t just say okay here are two singles and rush the album out because people want it now. It’s kind of like the mother doing the best thing for the kids. I can’t just feed you all this sugar although you want it right now. You have to wait for dinner, hold on. And that’s the way I look at it. Take a biscuit, take some chips and dinner is on the way. And the label stands behind me with that. They said let’s present you properly so people take you seriously. “Break My Heart” is the official jump-off single. The next record is coming out in a few weeks and we are going to just keep going. Have you already shot the video?
Estelle: We are shooting the video next week. I’m so excited. It’s going to be so sexy. Can you reveal who is the director?
Estelle: Chris Robinson is the director. I’ve been trying to work with him for so long. I can’t wait!
[*Images from The Video Shoot*] “American Boy” was such a huge single. Did you ever worry about topping the success of that song?
Estelle: Not at all. After the second album winning a Grammy, I said “yes, we did it.” So I’m over trying to top anything. I feel like I over-delivered as far as topping the first album. Tell us about the Bronx Charter School Art Auction recently?
Estelle: I wanted to be involved with that because Swizzy is a very good friend of mine. I’m definitely into educating kids and telling them what they can do outside of their range and what they have been told that they can and can not do. I started my own foundation, “All of Me” which raises money to help mentoring charities. Just to give back and help these kids into seeing things outside of what they have been told. That makes me happy. The problems are still the same and probably worse than ten years ago when I was in one. There are fewer teachers and kids are being told its okay to be average and stupid. And that’s not okay. I’m all for extra education. I had to support Swizzy, he’s a very good friend of mine and he’s like my brother so it’s always love. In celebration of Black Music Month, What does Black Music mean to you?
Estelle: It means music from the soul, music from the mother land. I think it all originates from there anyway, so definitely music from Africa, music from the soul. A pleasure interviewing you and much continued success.
Estelle: Thank you; make sure you shout out my website, Take care!


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