Musicians Recite Their Own Lyrics in This Emotional Campaign Around Mental Health
In a 10-minute film from Warner Music Asia and Iris, international recording stars raise their voices, though not in song, to help destigmatize conversations around mental health.
Artists including Nathan Hartono, Jasmine Sokko, Anari Kumaki, St. Wolf and Kiiara read some of their most stirring lyrics and chat about challenging times in their lives.
Dubbed "Project Unsung" and timed to World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10, the campaign supports Speak Your Mind, an initiative that urges governments to hear the voices of those who are suffering and take steps to improve their lives.
"The music industry is no stranger to the ills of depression and mental health issues," Ed Cheong, creative director at Iris Singapore, tells Muse. "But what inspired us was an interview Dave Grohl did when he spoke about how, in hindsight, he would go back now and find new meaning to Kurt Cobain's lyrics. And that he didn't realize Kurt was feeling that way at the time. It struck me that music, as wonderful as it is, can also mask the pain that musicians feel."
Some heartfelt lyrical highlights include:
—"Dig a little deeper and find the love I keep to myself. I'd show what's underneath here, but I can't do it if you don't help. So help me. Help me dig deep." (From Hartono's "Dig Deep")
—"Nobody is blaming you. Maybe they just don't live in the same season as you. There are those who love summer. And others who dislike winter. You just need to be the season that only you can be." (From Kumaki's "Hare")
—"I don't think you'd even try to understand. I don't like it when these demons hold your hand. Why don't you come and talk to me?" (From St. Wolf's "Jealousy")
With the artists speaking directly into the camera, sans accompaniment, the words feel fresh and intimate, as if the subjects are sharing heartfelt, hard-won wisdom, or revealing deep truths about themselves. Some performers well up with emotion, recalling the experiences that inspired their lines.
This playlist collects the songs from the video and other tracks.
"Project Unsung" recalls these Ad Council PSAs from last year, with musicians Aminé, Hayley Kiyoko, Christina Perri and Lindsay Sterling speaking out about teenage depression and suicide.
"I think music at its heart is one of the most beautiful forms of self-expression," says Cheong. "No matter what genre, it becomes a voice for a generation. By getting these musicians to strip away the beats and melodies, and step away from the bright lights, and simply speak up … [such campaigns] ask music listeners the question: What does it take to be truly heard?"
Here's a full list of participating artists:
• Nathan Hartono (Singapore)
• Jasmine Sokko (Singapore)
• Leanne and Naara (Philippines)
• St. Wolf (Philippines)
• Hanin Dhiya (Indonesia)
• Suara Kayu (Indonesia)
• Rahmania Astrini (Indonesia)
• Aizat Amdan (Malaysia)
• Young Hysan (Hong Kong)
• Dough-Boy (Hong Kong)
• Kiiara (USA)
• Soleima (Denmark)
• Anri Kumaki (Japan)
• D Gerrard (Thailand)
• Pyra (Thailand)
• Sam Feldt (Netherlands)
• Elderbrook (UK)