Proud Silence: Never Too Late To Reach Out

As someone who has many male friends, I often get a glimpse of the inner turmoil that these men face when going through tough times, battling between needing to express themselves and what they’re going through, and upholding stoicism and masculinity.

With the loss of several men in the music industry in the past couple of years, it is more important than ever that we have these discussions about mental health, especially men’s mental health, not only in general, but in the arts and creative industries.

I came across ‘Proud Silence’ mid August when Chris Panousakis, better known as Timberwolf, posted an open letter on Facebook the night before the track’s release:

“…In all honesty, I have a difficult relationship with music…
Something I’m always re-discovering is how hard it is to bring a vision to life in the way that you dreamed it to be. It’s always a tango with compromise and dollars, and that can be testing…

Changes within me, changes to our social terrain and infrastructure have ignited a curiosity of mine to write for a broader horizon than the topic of romantic love. And so, where I have been obsessed in the past by the idea of vulnerability within a romantic relationship (Íkaros), now I’m looking at the evolution of vulnerability beyond romantic love.”

From the outset, the voice and piano captivate your attention and transport you to a space that feels safe and emotive.
It is no accident the instrumentation that is found on this track.

“I’ve always seen the piano as an emotionally evocative and soothing instrument. So it was quite a leap of faith for me to choose this song to be delivered as a piano-dominant track. I thought it needed that sensitivity and careful approach, much like the kinds of conversations we’re hoping for/ need between people.”

Usually seen onstage with guitar in hand, Chris chose to step out from behind his guitar and get vulnerable, in the hopes of encouraging others to do the same.

“In the past I’ve always felt more comfortable playing guitar, but there’s nothing comfortable about bearing your soul and your struggles to someone, so I guess I hoped that in an effort to lead by example, I wouldn’t hide behind my guitar this time, get a bit vulnerable, and encourage listeners to sense the same fragility in the message of the song.”

The music video for this track also touches on our need as humans to connect with one another and our emotions abilities to “leak through the cracks” when suppressed.

 

“The director (Tash McCammon) and I wanted to expand on the idea that we are born to want to connect with each other, and we asked each pair to sit in silence for the duration of the song on the one condition that they had to look each other in the eye. What we saw were different waves of emotions pouring out in facial expressions, kind of like the expressions were begging for a platform to be heard or shared. Whilst this was a heartwarming connection to capture, it’s a scary reminder that whatever has been suppressed will find a way to leak through the cracks… In extreme cases – especially when we’re talking mental health imbalance in someone without a support network- sometimes this results in tragedy, but we were hoping that through the film clip we can see the benefit of having someone to share something with outlined. I was hoping that through discussion about these themes, the song and the clip could kind of become that icebreaker in allowing someone to feel comfortable about opening up, perhaps a difficult conversation in a social setting. Personally I find it much easier to approach difficult topics with a little bit of common ground. There’s also some awesome imagery in there – like the delicate flower being pulled both ways by fragile string – which relates to the tension in these lyrics, and the glass of milk that forever almost spills. I think that’s the perfect wobbly representation of how it feels to be juggling all these ‘bottled’ emotions all the time…”

When talking about the track, Chris touches further on the topics of mental health, in particular men’s mental health, his own reflections and the disconnect that is currently found in our society.

“Initially I wrote some lyrics specifically addressing men’s mental health and the toxicity of stoicism, or ‘over-masculine madness’ as I touch on in the song. I’ve always been terrified by how silently people seem to suffer. That depressed or anxious haze takes over too slowly to tell. Way too often you hear that ‘nobody had a clue’ about somebody’s suffering and it can be so well hidden.

“Me writing this (track) was ignited by the tragic loss of someone who meant the world to a friend I love, and involved me reflecting on whether my friendships/relationships are healthy, or if I’m being a good son, a good boyfriend? Am I an open communicator? What do I persist to suppress? I came up with the theme ‘proud silence is sadness’ while I was running and it all kind of unravelled in my mind that although I noticed this stuff more in guys, I was really talking about a broader topic of suppression for everybody. There is a huge disconnect. We all know how vital it is to be communicating with each other, but it seems to be so hard to find who we believe to be the right person to listen or the appropriate moment to share.”

Touching on mental health in the arts:

” I think it can be really hard to maintain a bit of mental stability when you’re in this bind of, ‘I’ve gotta work to make enough money to support my art, because the art doesn’t support itself, but when it works I can’t be creative, and I want it to be creative and for it to work.’
Then your mental health suffers and you start to go a bit crazy and I think riding that line is pretty tough.

Just these last few months there have been two really sad mental-health related deaths of young men in the music industry and, although the intention is great, I think it’s too little and too late for everyone to be sharing mental health hotlines following a tragedy. I think we need to lead by example, so I would love to see us all taking time to keep each other accountable when we can for the things we know improve our mental health: time in nature, less time on phones, less phone-related validation, time off the booze, eye contact, exercise, compassionate listening.”

This track shines a light on the loneliness felt by those living in “Proud Silence” and the struggles people have in trying to uphold stoicism around mental health in the absence of open, vulnerable conversations. It’s a call to action for those living in sadness and silence to speak up and reach out to those they love and trust, step into a space of vulnerability, and that is gets easier the more you talk about your struggles.
I feel that “Proud Silence” is a great conversation piece that will allow more discussions around (men’s) mental health to be had amongst groups of friends, families, and in the workplace.
I agree with Chris, we need to hold each other accountable when it comes to our mental health and implementing more things into our lives that we know will improve our mental health, before someone is at crisis level.

“My hope is that the song in itself provides a disarming medium to encourage the conversation.”

If you or someone you know are seeking help, you can go to:


You can catch Timberwolf next on his ‘Proud Silence’ Single Tour at The Gasometer Hotel (Upstairs) on November 23rd.


Be sure to check out the “stripped back” version of Proud Silence.

 

“To celebrate 200,000 streams I asked the enchanting Bree Tranter to help me strip Proud Silence right back to how it was written.”

 

No copyright infringement is intended in the use of images or videos contained within this post.

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