Oliver Sim, the musician probably best recognized as an original member of the British indie rock band the xx, is currently developing his career as a solo artist.
His debut record, Hideous Bastard, is due out this fall. Oliver released a new single, called "Hideous," off the upcoming album today and shared a lengthy statement alongside it that explained how personal experiences have influenced his music.
Pinpointing "fear and shame" as prominent themes in Hideous Bastard, Oliver spoke about his HIV diagnosis for the first time and said creating the record allowed him to "free [himself] of some of the shame and fear that [he's] felt" surrounding his status since he was a teenager.
"Two thirds into the writing of my album ... I realised I'd been circling around one of the things that has probably caused me the most fear and shame. My HIV status," Oliver wrote in a message shared in the YouTube description of his music video for "Hideous" and separately on Instagram.
"I've lived with my status 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," Oliver said. "So quite impulsively I wrote about it in the song 'Hideous' and thought I could release it into the world and be done with it."
Instead, per his mother's advice, Oliver said he "spent the past two years" talking to people in his personal network about his experience living with HIV. "Either people I hadn't told yet, or people I had told but hadn't wanted to talk much further on it," Oliver said.
"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 the people in my life."
"'Am I hideous?' No longer feels like a question I'm asking to the outside world but rather a counter active one for myself," he said. "Scary as it still feels, I'm excited to share this music with you and I hope you enjoy it. Lots of love, Oliver xx."
You can read Oliver's full statement here, or in the Instagram post above. Hideous Bastard is scheduled to drop Sept. 9.