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Estelle Opens Up About the Underbelly of Fame

The singer reveals what it’s like writing about her exes and creating music while unapologetically sad

Seven years ago, London R&B diva Estelle crashed onto the global music scene with the double-platinum hit “American Girl,” featuring none other than Kanye West. Today, she’s releasing her fourth album, True Romance, and there’s no doubt that this collection comes from a range of emotions. It’s raunchy, soulful, independent and unapologetic in the way that only truly grown women are. So we caught up with Estelle to take her pulse in the moment—and we’re happy to report that she’s very much alive.   

On her new album, and making music as a single girl:

“Every album I’ve written before has been in a space where I’ve been in a relationship. This is the first album where it’s like, oh nope, I am single! I am out here! So my perspective is a whole different thing. I think you should go have sex—do all of it. And that makes for bigger and better and more risqué songs.” 

On writing about her relationships:

“I’ve written about them, yeah. But I’m not usually saying their name or writing exactly what the point is. I did that one time, and I wasn’t even dating the guy at the time, but I felt so bad. I spent the next year and a half apologizing.” 

On having kids:

“I knew I was having no kids until I was married. Whew, I am not doing that alone! My mom has nine of us, and my stepdad wasn’t a very good stepdad. I want to be able to say to my kids, ‘Go to your dad, go to your father, get the hell out of here. Don’t want to talk to you right this second because I’m gonna choke you. Go to your dad!’ I just need to be able to say that.”

On finding her inner strength:

“You can’t let anything in life put you in a space where you say, ‘I give up.’ People may view you a certain way, because you’re supposed to be this famous person who is happy and has all the money in the world, but I’m like, I’m sad. You know? You motherfuckers don’t give a fuck if I’m sad. You just want me to write a song. I don’t want to write a song, I want to cry! They look at you like you’re ungrateful, but I’m not; I’m just really sad today. But no one owes you anything, so you have to find that strength within yourself and get on with it. And that’s all there is.”