VIXEN: You’ve talked about how this album is your emotional release after a breakup with your boyfriend of three years. Why did you decide to sing about it and not keep it in?
Estelle: It wasn’t really a choice. It was happening while I was recording the album, unbeknownst to me. I ended up writing about somebody I’d break up with at the very end of recording. I kind of got the balls to do it right at the end. An epiphany hit one day coming back from the “Break My Heart” video shoot. I was like, “I deserve better.” And that was it. And then I listened to the album and I’m going into it, like, this really feels like the story of my breaking up with this guy.
What was the biggest issue that made you question that relationship?
I didn’t feel good. I didn’t wake up in the morning smiling. In a relationship when that starts to happen, you might want to push them while you’re in it. They say through thick and thin, but when it’s always thick and it’s always bad and it’s always negative, it’s never really going to turn into something. You know it’s going to be wrong but you’re like, no I want to stick around. It’s a waste of your life.
A lot of people say they like certain artists better when they’re sad, like Mary or Keyshia.
Well, I fall into the category of having had “American Boy.” That’s the happiest song on the planet. So I don’t know; people love both. What I always wanted to do is give a balanced opinion and viewpoint of what a real life is like. It’s not always sad. It’s not always happy. It’s a bit of both. I just talk about how you get through both.
Were you surprised with the “Thank You” reception?
I was surprised because in my head it hasn’t been out that long. But when I did the tour this entire month, people have been singing it word for word, the entire room, men and women. That surprises the hell out of me. That makes me cry now, where before it would be the song would make me cry. That reaction makes me cry, like, ‘Oh my God, so we’re all in this together? I’m not crazy?’ It kind of affirms and reassures me of my choice.
People love to hear songs about heartbreak, especially when they’re going through the same thing.
When people sing “Thank You” to me, with the lyrics, it’s a different spin. It’s talking about what really happens every single day and not settling and not just being party to that stuff. And not in a facetious way. More in an “I’m cool. I’m actually cool” way. And the part that people sing out most is: “Sometimes I wonder/If she was more of a woman to you than you were a man to me.” That’s something that’s never been said in a song before, that real and that directly. People scream that bit at me and I’m like, So you understand! People are saying that like they never had the chance to say that before. They never had the option or the words to say those words to somebody before.
Did you speak to the guy after the song came out?
He loved the song. I sung it, so he heard it and then two weeks later I broke up with him. So he had heard it and liked it. He was like, “This is a beautiful song” and didn’t think it was going to be the song that helped me through therapy, through his situation. Life is funny. It will throw you a curve ball when you think everything is great. It really will.