South London based singer and songwriter Sipprell latest release “Personal” opens up about coming to terms with losing someone that you love to suicide. The song is hauntingly beautiful and stirring and makes you pause for a moment or more.
Sipprell shares with us her most honest and vulnerable writing, as she sings about losing her brother to suicide. “I wrote Personal about my big brother Vince. Its explores the mixed emotions, the self-blame and guilt that come with losing someone you love to suicide. The questions you ask yourself, like, ‘How could he leave me if he loved me? Could I have saved him? Why didn’t we see this coming? I eventually came to terms with the fact, his suicide wasn’t anything to do with me, but was about his own internal struggle that he could see no other way out of. I sing about the memories I have of us growing up, the questions I asked my self over and over, and finally the realisation that I probably couldn’t have saved him from himself.”
‘Personal’ features musicians such as Samson Jatto (Drums) Rocco Palladino (bass) and Sipprell herself playing the string parts.
Your new song is about your brother who committed suicide in 2015. How long have you been working on the track? And how difficult was it for you to process the theme as a song?
I wrote ‘Personal’ in autumn last year. It took me a few months to get all the music to a stage where I was happy enough to release it. I’m such a perfectionist and I was extra precious with this track.
It wasn’t difficult for me to process the theme, I found it quite healing actually. I’d already written numerous tracks about my brother but this was the first one I felt could be accessible to my listeners.
How did your parents react to “Personal”?
I haven’t played it to them, to be honest. I’m not sure if they’d understand the meaning of the song from the lyrics but I’d be afraid of upsetting them, especially mum.
What sort of help would you expect from society when it comes to dealing with mental issues? And do you think that society can actually do anything here or is it something so personal where you do not have proper access from the outside. And sometimes even family is helpless?
It’s a difficult one because there are a lot of factors involved and every case is individual.
I think raising awareness is important. Back in 2015 I had no idea suicide was the biggest killer of young men. If I’d known, I would have taken my brother’s illness much more seriously. Since then, I’ve noticed a big increase in publicity around the issue, which is great. Hopefully breaking the stigma will help some men to know they’re not alone and maybe they’ll be more likely to seek help sooner.
I also think teaching mindfulness in schools is a really good idea so there’s more focus on emotional wellbeing and giving children the tools to combat anxiety from a young age.
The trouble with depression is; you can’t ever see inside someone’s head or keep an eye on someone who is suffering 24/7. I’ve learnt that a lot of the times there’s no sign at all that person is suicidal. Family can sometimes be the most helpless in these situations and often the last to know cos I think most suicidal people don’t want to be a burden on them. That seemed to be the case with my brother.
I hope there’ll soon be more information on the links between physical health and mental health; I strongly believe there are mental and emotional consequences to how we treat our bodies and what we put in them.
“I’d already written numerous tracks about my brother but this was the first one I felt could be accessible to my listeners.”
When talking about men’s health I think there are still prejudices that a man should not be “weak”, etc. What do you think is particularly important in the topic of men´s health?
Yes, I agree. Generally, men are much less likely to speak out when they’re struggling, because they’re made to think they should just ‘get on with it’. There’s more pressure on men to be efficient and strong whereas it´s more socially acceptable for women to be vulnerable and to confide in others about their problems.
I think its important to try and break down these stereotypes. If men are more encouraged to open up from an early age it will probably make them feel less ashamed to ask for help later in life if they face mental health issues. We should never teach boys that showing emotion is weakness; it is in fact a strength.
How has this incisive experience changed you as a human? And your view about life?
It’s a big reminder of how temporary everything is, and in a way I value life more now. Your priorities change and certain things you had time for before you don’t anymore. You wake up out of your bubble where you believed things like this only ever happened to other people. It softens you and it hardens you. I like to think its made me a more compassionate person and that’s the most positive thing I can take away from it. I think the more we experience in life, the more people we can relate to and understand the pain of others.
“I think the more we experience in life, the more people we can relate to and understand the pain of others.”
What was your brother’s favorite band?
He was a massive Beatles fan, and played their music a lot growing up. He was also a big fan of Radiohead.
What was a wonderful moment with your brother that you love remembering?
I have so many amazing memories of him! He was hilarious and always made Christmas and birthdays so much fun.
Vince was amazing at karate and Wing Chun. On one of my birthday parties as a kid, he jumped out of his ground floor window into the garden fully dressed in ninja clothes and did his karate moves in front of my friends, like he was straight out of a Bruce Lee movie! My boy classmates said it was the best birthday they’d ever been to (because of Vince.)
One of my last memories of him was when he was helping me with my string arrangements. He was so encouraging. I could tell he believed in my music and that left a lasting impact on me. He was such a talented musician.
“I doubt I’ll ever stop making music, but whatever I’m doing I hope I’ll be making a positive impact on other people’s lives.”
What are you most thankful for?
Thankful that I got to spend my childhood with Vince. Grateful for the healing power of music. I try to be thankful for every day but I don’t always achieve that.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I don’t really like to look that far ahead. Things can change so drastically year to year and so much of life is out of our control. I doubt I’ll ever stop making music, but whatever I’m doing I hope I’ll be making a positive impact on other people’s lives.