Wonderland.

PREMIERE: RHYS LEWIS

The singer-songwriter on his mesmerising multi-sensory olio of dance, art and music with “No Right To Love You”.

Shadi Al-Atallah My hands have a brain and it hates me, 2018 Mixed media on unstretched canvas 1800 x 1200 mm_ Courtesy of the Artist and Cob Gallery
Shadi Al-Atallah My hands have a brain and it hates me, 2018 Mixed media on unstretched canvas 1800 x 1200 mm_ Courtesy of the Artist and Cob Gallery

Hear that? That, is the collective sound of hearts breaking and nerves being soothed everywhere with the seriously mesmerising new project from Rhys Lewis.

To mark the release of the singer-songwriter’s enthralling single “No Right To Love You”, London-based multidisciplinary artist Shadi Al-Atallah – known for their distorted self-portraits which explore powerful themes of mental health, queerness, and racial identity, and was recently enlisted by Kanye West to paint the Kardashians – was commissioned to paint continuously for a staggering 24 hours in a gallery space, all in order to explore the cathartic expression and connection between art and mental health.

For the visuals of the strings version of the haunting song, Lewis also invited dancer Becky Namgauds to choreograph a piece of work inspired by both by his song and the surrounding artwork – a raw, impactful piece exploring the meditative potential of art, music and dance.

And the track itself, taken from his debut album released earlier this year, Things I Chose To Remember, is a heart-wrenching earworm with hypnotic lyricism and soul-soothing production.

We caught up with Rhys Lewis on the music video below…

Congratulations on ‘No Right To Love You’ – what was the track inspired by? Any real-life experiences?
It was inspired by a breakup I went through a few years ago. It’s never a nice thing to go through, but I think I prefer being broken up with than being the one doing the breaking up. I wrote this song to try and articulate the inner conflict I was feeling emotionally about choosing to let go of someone. Breakups can be quite psychologically distressing and exhausting, something I know is at the core of this song from when I wrote it.

And amazing that you commissioned renowned Shadi Al-Atallah to paint continuously for 24 hours – what did you want to highlight here?
Well Shadi’s work immediately struck me as raw and uninhibited – a real outpouring of emotions. I’ve often leant on music and songwriting as an outlet for my own emotions and I feel lucky to have it as a way of processing and understanding how I feel. I know Shadi feels the same, so by collaborating on this project we hoped to raise awareness of the positive impact art can have in dealing with mental health issues. Anxiety is something I struggled with and having music as a distraction from or an outlet for my anxiety has been invaluable. Hopefully Shadi’s amazing artistic achievement with this event can encourage more people to use art as a way of dealing with whatever’s going on in their heads.

And why is this important more than ever in these uncertain times?
Well 21st century life feels like it’s becoming more and more challenging psychologically. We all have a lot to deal with mentally, from issues arising out of social media to stresses related to political turmoil, not to mention the environmental crisis and the global pandemic…! If your mind isn’t a mess some days at the minute then you’re probably superhuman, so having an outlet for your emotions or a way of maintaining good mental state could be invaluable in these uncertain times.

PREMIERE: RHYS LEWIS

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