About a month ago, just after finishing up writing 'Nude', I started writing a new song: 'Known'. I had been spending some time over the Christmas break reflecting on how a number of areas of my personal and professional life had been converging towards a central idea.
That idea came to be expressed in the lyric:
"Crash against the stone
Wear away the old"
The stone — the culture we are born in to; the society and structures we live within — is both that which holds us up, and that which holds us back. As we grow to better know ourselves, and become known by others, we crash against it: learning to both accept it's wisdom, and to reject that which is old, dead, and lifeless. In that process, we renew and refine both ourselves and the world around us.
A few weeks later, those lyrics found a whole new life, when, on Monday 18 February 2019, I made the decision to take my Instagram account private.
Without being able to explain specific details, it was suggested to me that the images I had been presenting in my daily videos were not appropriate for all audiences, and therefore, would jeopardise my professional position. This was heart breaking.
To my mind, I was proud of the videos I was sharing, and was happy for them to be seen by all. I would workout and make my breakfasts topless as a way of showing the progress I had made over time: growing from someone who, at the darkest times of suffering with Ulcerative Colitis (and for many months after), would hide their body in all black, into someone who could celebrate feeling happier and healthier in their own skin and mind.
Over the past couple of weeks, I've talked to many good friends, each sharing different perspectives. I've come to see that it is not simple.
Being topless on the internet may be partly about celebrating body confidence and positivity, but it also is about seeking the validation and approval of others. To create a video and soundtrack each day is a process which is both disposable and permanent at the same time. Sharing my journey, and being able to be known by others opens up both new possibilities and new risks.
Do I change the videos, so they can be public again? Do I keep my videos private? How and when do I push back against constraints being put on my creative self-expression?
And so, the lyrics of 'Known' have taken on a new meaning to me, leaving me to question: when am I the waves, and when am I the stone?
Known will be available on all major streaming and digital music platforms from Tuesday 12 March.