Proud Silence - a song, an open letter and an important message from Timberwolf
‘Proud silence is sadness,
But the more you talk the easier it gets.’
Timberwolf is a young Adelaide-based singer/songwriter. . His music is incredibly personal and beautiful, and listening to the lyrics almost feels like someone is singing poetry to you. His songs aren’t just songs; they’re experiences, and him exploring his vulnerability. Last year he released his debut album ‘Ikaros’, and Proud Silence is the first release since then. Chris (Timberwolf) accompanied the release with an open letter - where he delves into the matter of mental health - with a focus on men and the music industry, and the sadness behind suppression and struggling to speak up. It’s incredibly raw and honest, and the message is SO important. It’ll take 2 minutes of your time to read…
It’s never too late.
So, what IS ‘Proud Silence’? What’s the story?
Well, I had written lots of songs since releasing my debut album Íkaros, but Proud Silence was the first song I had written that I think expands beyond the topic of romantic love. To me it feels like it tackles a relevant and broad sentiment. One of my best friends tragically lost a family member around Christmas last year, and the immediacy and shock of it all really upset me. I couldn’t believe how much of a surprise it came to all of his family/friends/partner, and so I frantically started to reflect on the health of my friendships, my relationship with my partner, the relationship between my parents, and the way we all relate to each other. I became concerned and a little obsessed with dissecting the nature of this kind of shocking disconnect and originally wrote the song to raise awareness for men’s mental health, and realised quickly that the topic was much bigger than that.
I do a lot of my thinking while I run along the beach at night, and the sentence ‘Proud silence is sadness’ popped into my head while I had kind of switched off to let my mind wander.
I had spent all day trying to think of a way to condense the kind of danger and sadness involved in suppression that I associate with someone who is either too ‘proud’, or acting too stubborn to communicate their emotions. There’s a beautiful innocence in the way that kids tend to openly vent their emotions, they’re never too embarrassed and seem to be so present… I think it’s a shame that we become stubborn and conditioned to feel like that’s not acceptable.
What made you think to write the open letter to accompany the release?
Yeah I was kind of hoping that the letter would afford a little context to what people were about to hear, which is definitely a digression of sound from anything I had released in the past. I guess I saw it like how a masseuse doesn’t just go right for the raw spots on your body the second you get on the table. They spend a good amount of time relaxing all of your skin and getting you comfortable with their touch first before hitting the real money spots…
The message behind Proud Silence:
One of my favourite quotes is ‘the rising tide affects all boats’ and I’m a firm believer that when it comes to mental health there’s way too much reactionary support, not a collective responsibility for maintenance.
I think the way everybody is marketing and selling themselves on social media, combined with the way that industry is rewarding this as a form of credential and means for employment is causing massive mental health problems. I don’t think people realise how much of their identity they are investing in these platforms, and if you’re promoting this idealistic kind of highlights reel of your life all the time then you too will quickly feel edited and fake. What I see is this status anxiety driven trend where people (myself included) are becoming less confident in posting anything that’s not an achievement, or their best angle, or a sign that their brand’s following (which is ironically just themselves in most cases) is growing, and that’s so dangerous. I blame industry as much as I do the individual, because it takes someone to post it, but then it takes the industry to reward it and therefore perpetuate the circle of illness here.
I’m pretty sick of people in positions of power openly posting their support for initiatives like ‘Beyond Blue’ or the mental health hotline for musicians, and in the next click of the mouse return to their emails and validate this mentally unstable behaviour on social media by rewarding it with employment, money and status.
For anyone reading this that has ever been depressed or anxious, you would know that you definitely don’t just feel like you could ‘open up’ at any time, especially when someone is forced to ask you. So I think the message I wanted to portray is quite well summed up in the lyric ‘the more you talk, the easier it gets’. For me it’s touching on the fact that it’s NOT easy to just reach out and trust that people want to help you, and that’s why I think maintenance of mental health is an all-year-round practise of lifestyle, not just something to focus on once or twice a year, or even worse; after a huge tragedy like a suicide.
It’s always scared me how people ‘never see it coming’, but once you establish a routine of trusting in your support networks, it does become easier to regularly maintain your mindset. If we’re holding each other accountable all year round to do the things that we know improve mental health regularly like exercise, diet, honest conversations, taking the pressure and spotlight off of social media validation, then I think we’ll be much better off.
Where do you draw your inspiration from - musically? and in particular, for this song?
From memory I was listening to a lot of Frank Ocean & Paul Simon around the time I wrote this, but I really do draw inspiration from honesty first and foremost. I like the idea that a song can be a great icebreaker to help people discuss emotions they might otherwise struggle to unlock.
Your lyrics almost like poetry, are your lyrics in a sense some kind of window into to your inner thoughts?
Sometimes I actually think there’s not enough separation between the two for me. My lyrics are very confessional and anybody that takes the time to get to know them will almost always get a pretty intimate view into the deepest corners of my thoughts.