Oliver Sim’s Radical Honesty | GQ

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What got you to this place where you could be so open about yourself?

I don’t exactly know. I reached a point in my late twenties where I realized that the way that I’ve been navigating things hasn’t been working. It’s been around fear and around shame. Slowly, over time I’ve become a convert to sharing stuff, and especially sharing what I struggle with. Shame thrives on being concealed and hidden. Vocalizing things I feel shame about slowly over time, I realized I was experiencing moments of relief. That was the place where I was at when I started to record.

Also, songwriting is so much easier than conversation. I don’t have to be in the room when a person listens to this. I don’t have to make eye contact. Even before I started really having conversations, I was putting it into songwriting.

You have that line [in “Hideous”] about how “radical honesty might set me free” and you’re talking about being more honest through your songs, but have you found yourself being more honest in your personal interactions?

No. I have not been described as honest very much in my life. But I think this record, the special thing that it’s done for me hasn’t even been the making of the music, it’s been all the conversations it inspired. When I wrote “Hideous,” the second person I played it to was my mom. My mom was like, “This is a bit drastic. How about some baby steps first?” She knew where I was at. She knew there were some people in my life that didn’t know about my status. There were quite a few people who did know, but I told them one time and then just put an invisible force field around it.

She was like, “Have the conversations.” And that’s exactly what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to make eye contact. I didn’t wanna be in the room when people were hearing this. [The conversations] were incredibly uncomfortable to begin with, but each one I had was slightly less uncomfortable and slightly less heavy. So the making of the music has been cathartic, but everything around it has really been healing.

How are these new feelings reflected in the music itself?

I knew that from writing songs, this could be quite heavy. I just didn’t want it to be a Debbie Downer. Although I keep saying fear and shame, and I’m sure that sounds sad and scary, I didn’t want to present it in that package. I like joyous songs that have a bit of melancholy. I like sad songs that have a bit of joy. If I described my ideal song, it’d be a song that you go out and dance to and then take home and have a cry to if you actually listen to it.

There is this sense of honesty and revelation to the album. But then you have the song “Unreliable Narrator,” and after hearing that for the first time, I did have a moment where I did question whether some of the things you sang about were actually true.

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