SOUNDchat with Jake Shears and Self Esteem took place at the Cumberland Hotel, Marble Arch on the 3rd December.
When I was invited to hear Jake Shears, along with his Mercury Prize nominated co-star from Cabaret, Self Esteem (Rebecca Lucy Taylor) there was no way I would miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Arriving at the Sound Bar, located within Marble Arch’s Cumberland Hotel, we were greeted with smiles by the venue staff, taken to our seats and began to enjoy our cocktails along with the beautifully presented and yummy-tasting food. Rafael our server could not have been more helpful and charming. The warm chocolate fudge brownie was out of this world!
The venue had created fun drinks to match the evening’s entertainment: You Forever, the Self Esteem-inspired Mocktail and Have a Kiki the cocktail named after a Scissor Sister’s hit.
At 7 O’Clock, Jake Shears and Self Esteem took their seats on stage and, for about an hour straight, they asked and answered each other’s pre-written questions. This was followed by a short intermission, they then answered questions from the audience. For a fan, this event was super exciting, but even if you didn’t know these artists before Cabaret, or you only knew them from their esteemed musical career as opposed to their on-stage (in my opinion) Oliver-worthy performances their stage presence was so vibrant, inviting and interesting that you couldn’t help but be put under their spell and hold on to every word they spoke.
Both revealing, inspiring and fun to hear Jake Shears and Self Esteem talked about the music that inspired them to become artists (Peter Gabriel, Jagged Little Pill and the Spice Girls were listed as well as Nirvana, Labyrinth and Howard The Duck, I’ll let you guess who said what!
Self Esteem regaled her story – her route from band member in an indie group to the confident authentic performer she is now. How at the age of 37 she “can’t be arsed to not believe in myself anymore”, how she loves being able to take the dual role of musician and performer, and if given the opportunity she’d love to pivot and work with Lucy Prebble on I Hate Suzie the Musical! We learned that her ideal future would be 2-year album cycle, 2-year theatre cycle repeat till fade.
Both Jake Shears and Self Esteem talked about the current state of the music industry, how the only two remaining TV programmes to showcase new artists are Jools Holland and the cookery programme Sunday Brunch! They shared with us their ‘evolutions’ from band members to solo performers.
Jake shared with us how he has been addicted to work for the last few years, how he always has multiple projects he is working on, and how he just can’t stop. How he no longer can separate work from life. Self Esteem shared with us how she is “horny for authenticity”– that what she makes, is who she is, how she believes for art to be good it has to be real and why she loves making artistic statements. She is in a place her life where she knows she can do anything.
Their on-stage chemistry was hugely engaging, fun to listen to and I felt privileged to have experienced this event. Where else would you hear that Jake Shear’s most iconic moment/memory is from the time that Jane Fonda invited him to Atlanta to take part in a live workout with 20,000 women, herself and Richard Simmonds, or that Rebecca Lucy Taylor signed up and took a course on how to teach aerobics when the pandemic hit the world.
I’m hugely thankful that these two artists took the time to share their personal stories, beliefs and histories with, us a live audience. It was also great to experience it in an inclusive venue like Sound Bar. Please more events like this. It’s like an immersive version of the South Bank Show where you get to see the real artist behind the art, but with excellent food and drink being served to you, and the opportunity to ask your own questions at the end.