Self Esteem on her next album and quest to be a judge on ‘Drag Race UK’

Watch Rebecca Lucy Taylor talk to us at the launch of the Mercury Prize 2022 about musical survival, moving into theatre, dressing up as Meadowhall at Glasto, saving The Leadmill, and "making glamour meet reality"

Self Esteem has spoken to NME about being nominated for the Mercury Prize 2022 – as well as plans for her next album and quest to be a judge on Drag Race UK. Watch our video interview with Rebecca Lucy Taylor above.

Taylor was speaking to NME from the London launch event for the prize yesterday (Wednesday July 27), where the Sheffield star’s second solo record ‘Prioritise Pleasure‘ was named as one of the Albums Of The Year alongside albums by the likes of Sam Fender, Nova Twins, Harry Styles, Little Simz and more.

“I’m not being coy, but I can’t believe what’s happened,” Taylor told NME. ‘I’d really made my peace with being consistently underground and under-dogged. Something has happened where people have connected to [the album]. It’s still kind of a slow-burn and slowly growing – it’s not like my life has changed overnight – but my greatest joy is making music.


She continued: “I’ve been making records since I was 18, always with this not-too-far-away fear that I’d have to stop soon and probably have to train to do a different job. It’s so hard to keep going in this industry, and the idea that people are listening and caring about it makes it feel like I can’t go away right now, and that is just beautiful. That’s why I don’t feel as alone…You can’t get emotional on NME, Jesus!”

This week also saw the opening of Prima Facie – a West End production directed by Justin Martin and starring Killing Eve actress Jodie Comer with a score penned by Taylor.

“It’s been a real passion of mine for ages to make soundtracks,” Taylor told NME. “My hyper-emotionalness lends itself well to scoring. I love being told, ‘This needs to feel like this’. It’s a nice side hustle. Music as a job is always the dream, and that has been what my whole life has been. Just the idea that I can do it and be free of this terror and feeling of me not being good enough. That’s close to being gone, and that’s exciting.

Asked if she has any other ambitions beyond her popstar day job, she replied: “I want to be a judge on Drag Race UK – that’s what I’m putting out there. I got all the things I wanted on this record, so now I know how powerful manifesting can be. I want to take my time. I want to find treasure.”

Self Esteem
Self Esteem (Picture: Jamie MacMillan for NME)

The last time we saw Self Esteem was back in June when she was making headlines at Glastonbury 2022, where she appeared on the John Peel Stage with an outfit in tribute to Sheffield landmark and shopping centre, Meadowhall.


“I’m always referencing Madonna and I’ve always had this idea of doing a cone bra but it’s the domes of Meadowhall,” Taylor told us. “Meadowhall opened in 1990 and I was a kid, all wide-eyed, thinking that it represented so much glamour, America, and all of these things. I spent years upon years in that joint. It was the first place I ever went without my parents and it was a hotbed of growth! I also worked there in Quicksilver and it’s represented so much.

“I love making glamour meet reality.”

On the subject of Sheffield landmarks, Taylor also told us why she supported the ongoing campaign to save the Steel City venue The Leadmill.

“Venues start to become carbon copies of each other,” she said. “You want this authentic, in-the-moment feeling, but when a venue isn’t run by people who are from there then you lose the warmth and the connection,” she said. “It happens everywhere. The music industry is a difficult beast and there’s a lot of injustice in it. I hope they can do something.”

During a previous interview with NME at the BRIT Awards 2022, Taylor also revealed her hopes for the third Self Esteem album – telling us that she wanted it to be loaded with “Olympic opening ceremony euphoria”.

Asked if that was still her goal, she replied, “Yeah, throw those curtains wide-y!,” before bursting into the chorus of ‘One Day Like This’ by Elbow. “That’s what I’m gonna do! I’m too busy and I haven’t had time to think about it, so it’s gonna be ages now. I’m just so busy being awarded things! It’s so hard being talented! It’s killing me! It’s still on the agenda but you never know!”

Due to a busy schedule and much-needed holiday, Taylor said we’d be unlikely to hear new music until next year at the very earliest, but said she had been considering the lyrical direction of the next record.

“I’m still whinging about loads of other stuff,” she added. “‘Prioritise Pleasure’ was only the start of the penny dropping. I’m still this hyper-emotional person, I find it all a bit hard and that’s where I’ll always write from. You know how Ed Sheeran just sings about loving his girlfriend? One day I’ll just be able to do that. For now, I’ve just got to fight injustice at every corner. It’s difficult, but I’ll do it!”

Watch our full interview above, where Taylor also tells us who she’s tipping to win the prize. The Mercury Prize will reveal the winner at a ceremony on September 8 at London’s Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith.

After a run of summer festival dates, Self Esteem will embark on another UK tour through February and March 2023. Visit here for tickets and information.