You take on the weighty subject of difficult father-son relationships in “Unknown (To You).” Why?
I’ve had that song for about three years. It’s taken numerous meaning to me every couple of months really. When I wrote it, it was about a relationship I was in. We both had to leave but didn’t know how to tell each other. But when I put it out, it started to mean more of a father-son relationship. I felt like growing up in an immigrant background, as men, we are told to put our feelings in the back of our mind and not address them. Most men that I know don’t get to speak their mind. We don’t get to address how we communicate with our partners, and I think it all stems from how we communicate with our fathers. I think hypermasculinity is a massive issue. It’s not okay to show your feelings. It’s a universal thing—not just where I grew up. Most men will tell you it’s hard to communicate because we’ve been taught not to for so long. We are used to pretending stuff just isn’t there. It’s not about my father really—it’s any relationship between men.
Especially now with all that’s going on in the news with sexual assault, addressing hypermasculinity seems like a good place to start to change.
I tell my friends that if we can address hypermasculinity, we will sort 80% of our troubles. We will treat women better, we will learn how to be more compassionate about same-sex marriage. So many things will be sorted naturally if we address it. It’s just how we’ve been raised. We’ve been taught to shut so many things out. It’s going to take time, but it can start with how we raise our sons, how we raise our brothers, how we talk to other men.
I’ve spent most of my life by myself and I’ve always struggled, in rooms of people, to ask for help. I don’t know how to communicate. Even in relationships, I don’t know how to allow myself to be there. And so the music is all I have. All my energy goes into that. I want the album to keep people company, and to do that, I have to be honest.