Hi Wren! Thanks so much for talking to me today! You recently released ‘Game Over’- what was the inspiration behind this song?
‘Game Over’ is about how anxious I can be in regards to creating, and to life in general really; the track is specifically about music but it could be related to anything. I feel like everyone feels a lot of pressure to succeed in whatever they do and it can really strip the joy out of things. It can make things feel like a chore and it’s hard to even celebrate your successes that you do have when you’re constantly waiting for the axe to drop, so to speak. That’s pretty much what ‘Game Over’ is about and just like that general feeling of anxiety and being able to navigate through that.
The line in the song ‘secure yourself before the bank’ is a very powerful one and for me is a great commentary on a society that often prioritises success over mental health - how important do you think it is that we take the time to focus on ourselves in an increasingly busy lifestyle?
I think that it’s crucial; and that’s where that line comes from. There’s this overwhelming narrative, especially in the last few years, that productivity just relates to getting money; getting as much money as possible and monetising everything, monetising your passions and your hobbies and your existence. It can be really draining and I think that it’s really crucial to take time for your mental health for “self care”, therapy and all of those things. If you don’t do those things success doesn’t really matter because you’re not going to be able to enjoy it, and what’s the point if you don’t enjoy it? Also, if you are accumulating a lot of money but you’re not mentally stable then chances are you’ll spend the money in the wrong ways, unhealthy ways, or you’ll lose it all anyway.
In ‘Game Over’ you say ‘one day you’re gonna miss this part that went too fast’ - why do you think it is important that we sometimes re-focus our attention on the present and enjoy the smaller things in life rather than always worrying about the future?
I think that it’s important because obviously the future is not guaranteed regardless. If you’re always looking forward to the future it comes back to that question of 'What is the point of it?' If you’re always thinking about the future then when you get to what you’re thinking about today, if I’m then thinking about a month from now, a year from now or five years from now, then when I get to that deadline I’ll be thinking about five years from then. If you don’t stay present your finish line so to speak will always be bumped ahead a few feet, then another few feet. I think, personally, I’ve had a few crazy experiences in my life that so many people would say ‘That must have been great’ or ‘crazy’ or ‘exciting’, and I can’t relate at all because I wasn’t emotionally present and I didn’t appreciate it while I was in it. I feel like I cheated myself out of moments that I was physically there for but wasn’t emotionally participating in.
The song tackles some big issues relating to mental health and modern society but is presented in a way that sounds so relaxed and chilled out - with a simple drum beat, smooth vocals and a steady tempo. Was this a deliberate choice, and if so, why did you choose to go this way?
It wasn’t deliberate in the sense that I didn’t set out for it to be this way. I don’t write to music, generally speaking. A theme that’s maybe not so apparent but is just there for some reason in the lyrics and the artwork is playing ‘Mario’ on Nintendo 64. I don’t really know where it came from - I wasn’t like, ‘I’m going to write a song that’s influenced by mental health, the music industry and ‘Mario’’. Sonically it’s just about being laidback and that kind of reminds me of playing that game a lot when I was a kid. It kind of goes back to not being present when you’re doing things. I also like the way that it sounds like someone reminiscing and going about your day absent mindedly thinking about those things. It’s not super climactic or anything like that, it’s just for me run of the mill daily thoughts.
Mental health is a very individual thing and you’ve been open in the past about living with borderline personality disorder. Can you touch upon what this means to you and how it affects your life?
For me, I have pretty intense mood changes and an unstable sense of self. I dissociate quite a bit and I have a lot of ‘all or nothing’ or ‘black and white’ style of thinking. I also have unstable relationships; friendships and otherwise. Historically, before I was diagnosed, it controlled every aspect of my life; I never had a steady group of friends or social circle. I was a very volatile person growing up. I was diagnosed in my early twenties and since then it has gotten a lot better. For me, self-awareness is the most important thing, so while I still suffer from, or deal with as I prefer to say, the black and white thinking for example, before that would impact my decisions and how I react. I can make better decisions now and I’m more aware. Not only that, the mood changes, the unstable sense of self, the impulsivity, once you’re aware that you’re prone to that it’s much easier to not let it affect your day to day life. It will still affect me every day; emotionally I’ll still be impacted, but I think that’s something really important that I’ve learned over the past few years in that we can’t just react based on how we feel, and I think that’s helped me a lot.
In the past I’ve written a piece about channelling your mental health into your creativity - do you find that your music helps you with your own mental health?
I do think that it can help. I think that writing can help, it’s a good outlet to not only express yourself in the moment but also to look back in hindsight and work through things, to better understand yourself even. I do definitely feel like writing and singing in particular can be really beneficial to your mental health. I wouldn’t recommend to people who struggle with mental health that it’s always a good idea to do music for a living because it’s so stressful and it’s just so much. I think the business side of it can be taxing on your mental health, but music itself in terms of art is definitely beneficial and can be very therapeutic for sure.
Music can be a very personal thing - and often we can put so much of ourselves into creative projects. As an artist, can you describe what it is like to release music where you’ve been particularly open and honest, or so much of your heart and soul has gone into its production?
It can be kind of odd sometimes, it can be strange. Especially as I change my mind a lot. I can release something and be totally comfortable with it then hear it again once it’s already out and think, ‘Oh, everybody knows that now’. I’d never say I really regret it, but it can be strange in hindsight – that’s definitely one aspect of it I notice.
Finally, one thing we ask all of our interviewees is to name their top three songs that relate to mental health. What would be your top three?
1. Waiting for the Clouds – Nujabes Ft. Substantial
2. Love Yourz – J. Cole
3. My God - Tianda
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