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13th of November 2018


Estelle's 'Lovers Rock' Takes On A New Meaning Of Love

At three years old, Estelle’s parents went their separate ways. When the “American Boy” singer turned 23, her parents rekindled their relationship. Once she hit 33, they got married. Now at 38, Estelle is ready to put her parents’ love lost, yet love found storyline at the center of her new project, Lovers Rock (VP Records/Est. 1980).

The West London native says it took her three or “close to four” years to finetune and be more than satisfied with writing this chapter in her musical journey. She stressed that the album was not a “concerted effort,” but something that came naturally to her as she was in the studio day in and day out. With the green light from her team—all of whom noticed Estelle’s new musical direction—she began to piece together her parents’ melodic memoir based on their relationship and even found the process therapeutic. Looking to prominent artists like Dennis Brown, Bob Marley and The Wailers, and Fela Kuti, Estelle noticed that not only did the sounds of her childhood help guide her throughout this album, but the lyrics served as an outpour of locked away thoughts and unnoticeable realizations. “I started reading like, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m really talking about things I’ve been through but relating it to my parents.’ I realized I was repeating some things,” she says within our 35-minute conversation. “I had to work my way out through those songs and write a different ending.”

Prior to sticking to the concept of the album, the Grammy winner also had to work her way through getting answers from her father’s separation from her mother. Questions like “Where the hell were you for 20-something years? What did you think was going on?” rapidly flowed out of Estelle’s mouth. But her father responded in a way she didn’t expect; he remained steadfast in answering the hard inquiries that loomed over his daughter’s head. “He showed up and he wasn’t embarrassed, he didn’t punk out on hard questions and was respectful when he was answering them with respect for my mother in a way I’ve never seen a man have respect for my mum,” she admits. “And he didn’t have to do it.”

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These revelations and the most personal parts of Estelle’s life carry out through the course of her layered 13-track soundscape. “Love Like Ours,” which boasts a hip-swaying bass line, fully captures the scope of her parents’ bond. Her parents initially separated because of their families’ doubtfulness. “No, we don’t like this, we can’t see nothing good,” was just one sentiment the units spewed. She adds her parents refrained from tackling their goals and dreams together due to outside influences. Another song that speaks to that experience is “Sweetly.” Estelle says it was the hardest track to write given that it depicts the break-up period of a relationship.

“How do I write that, how do I describe how that goes down bearing in mind all of his efforts and bearing in mind all of her efforts?” she says. “How do I write this into a song without making them feel crazy, without it sounding wild, just saying you hurt me and I’m going to kill you, or I wish everything bad on you? Sometimes it’s not that, sometimes it’s a complete dissolution of the relationship and that’s what essentially happened. They didn’t get to break up properly and be like, ‘I don’t see it anymore.’ ” From that perspective, Estelle had to figure out how to translate decades of ups and downs from her parents’ relationship into a 45-minute album.

To reflect that journey, the Steven Universe actor hosted a listening party at New York City’s swanky Gold Bar on Thursday evening (Sep. 6). Burrowed within the Bowery section of the Big Apple, eager fans lined the gold-skulled walls to hear the musician speak on her 20-year prowess as an artist, which was commemorated by a congratulatory voicemail from her parents. Before the bashment occurred, which promoted a mix of new school vibes like Ding Dong’s “Lehbeh Lehbeh” to Destra’s 2015 soca hit “Lucy,” Estelle gushed about her musical baby and thanked everyone in attendance for their support throughout her career.

“We’re so delighted about the launch of this new album,” her mother said. Her father added how Estelle captured life experiences over “crisp, flowing” rhythms.

Although the concept record has a niche tale, Estelle also inserted her own experiences of love and the good and bad it entails. “I used to repeat the idea of needing it to be a whole mess of a relationship before it got to be good. I don’t believe that anymore, I don’t want that anymore,” Estelle says. “I realized that’s living in a state of turmoil on purpose. I refuse to do that because I love myself. I realized that I was living in one version of love versus what true love can actually be and it doesn’t have to be tied to pain just to get to that point.”

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