The xx’s Oliver Sim has released the affecting video for his new song “Hideous,” where he discloses for the first time that he has been living with HIV since he was a teenager. The song appears on his first solo album, Hideous Bastard. It arrives on Sep. 9 via Young.
The xx songwriter, bassist, and vocalist enlisted bandmate Jamie xx to produce the album inspired by Sim’s adoration of horror movies and deeply personal experiences. It features guest vocalist Jimmy Somerville, who has been a “powerful voice around HIV and AIDS for decades,” Sim said in a statement. Sim added: “He encouraged me to do the song for myself. He taught me ‘glamour’ is a Scottish word. And, most importantly, he reminded me to not take myself too seriously, no good comes from that!”
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The Yann Gonzalez-directed video for the song confronts the monsters and fears that haunt us — literally and figuratively. Sim explores loneliness and questions being “hideous” contrasted against buoying string arrangements in the lyrics. Gonzalez also teamed up with Sim for an upcoming queer horror short film of the same name.
Sim wrote and recorded over the last two years. In a statement shared alongside the new music, Sim says that much of the writing for his album was informed by his feelings of fear and shame, particularly surrounding his HIV status. Despite the heavy topics, he said he’s “become a firm believer that the best antidote to these feelings can be bringing them to the surface and shedding some light on them.”
“Two thirds in, having a good idea of what the record was about, I realised I’d been circling around one of the things that has probably caused me the most fear and shame. My HIV status,” Sim said. “I’ve been living with HIV since I was 17 and it’s played with how I’ve felt towards myself, and how I’ve assumed others have felt towards me, from that age and into my adult life.
“So, quite impulsively, I wrote about it on a song called ‘Hideous.’ I thought I could release it into the world and be done with it. After playing the song to my mum, being the protective and wise mum that she is, she gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received. She suggested that I spend some time having conversations with people in my life first,” he continued. “Either people I hadn’t told yet, or people I had told but hadn’t wanted to talk much further on it with. Since writing ‘Hideous,’ I’ve spent the past two years having those conversations, which was difficult and uncomfortable to start with, but has allowed me to feel a lot freer and has only strengthened my relationship with myself and with the people in my life.”
He added: “‘ Am I Hideous?’ feels far less like a question I’m asking the world now. I know the answer. As scary as it still feels, I’m excited to share this music with you, and I hope you enjoy it.”
Hideous Bastard Tracklist
2. “Romance With a Memory”
3. “Sensitive Child”
4. “Never Here”
5. “Unreliable Narrator”
7. “Confident Man”
10. “Run the Credits”
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