There's nothing more powerful than our ability to become — a gradual process of undoing and rebuilding that takes time, and ultimately results with arriving at the person we've always been. For Flynn Sant, the rising 20-year-old transgender musician from Sydney, Australia, this personal experience has bravely been made public under his moniker flowerkid.
His debut EP, everyone has a breaking point, documents years of introspection and "everything I have thought about for a long time," as he describes. "This body of work is a feeling that has been bottled up inside me for all of my existence on this earth." From lead single "it's happening again" to "vodka orange juice," flowerkid captures his coming of age beautifully.
"It took me a while to be where I am now," flowerkid sings on "vodka orange juice," before declaring, "I learned how to fight back/ You don't even wanna know how." The accompanying Bailey Watts-directed visual features makeup artist Sean Brady, who transforms flowerkid with high-femme makeup in homage to his teenage years.
"Having had the opportunity to listen to how poignant the song was prior, it was important to me to subvert the idea of feminine beauty with a nod to Divine [the iconic drag queen] and to intertwine punk elements into the look," Brady says of carefully painting a deadpan flowerkid throughout the powerful clip.
Ahead of everyone has a breaking point, which arrives November 11 with new single, "I Met the Devil at 4 Years Old," PAPER caught up with flowerkid to talk about how he turned "hurt into healing" through music.
How do you see this music video amplifying the song's original message?
When we were discussing the treatment for the video, there were a few ideas that popped up, but the treatment we decided on made me feel the most vulnerable. Having makeup done on me was a huge challenge against my gender dysphoria, which is a constant theme throughout the song itself. The video challenges and questions the idea of what a "real boy" is, as I don't want that (gender binary and norms) to control me anymore.
How has music-making helped your personal experience through self-discovery?
Music-making has changed my life for the better. It really challenges me to confront serious issues and feelings in my life. From this song alone, I learned so much about how I process the trauma that comes with being trans, and how to deal with it in a healthy way, turning my hurt into healing.
"everyone has a breaking point is a collection of songs exploring the trauma and negative experiences I've had up to this point."
What is your reaction to watching this back? Is public opinion nerve-racking or liberating?
When "vodka orange juice" was released, I felt so very nervous. It is probably the most vulnerable I've felt releasing a song and video. I was so worried that people just wouldn't understand and that this song wouldn't make a difference. But once the song and video were released, I was flooded with lovely support and stories from people who have had similar experiences. These people are the ones that make music-making so rewarding and liberating.
In the context of your EP, where does "vodka orange juice" live along the journey towards a "breaking point"?
everyone has a breaking point is a collection of songs exploring the trauma and negative experiences I've had up to this point. "vodka orange juice" is set in my teen years, however it's symbolic of the day-to-day misgendering many trans/ non-binary individuals face.
This year particularly I had reached my breaking point emotionally and mentally as I experienced a psychosis, set off by a hospital visit where I was misgendered and called by my dead name even after explaining my situation. I felt neglected and unsafe where I was supposed to be protected. So in short, "vodka orange juice" is an amalgamation of the countless experiences I've had and how they directly led me to my breaking point.
Photos courtesy of flowerkid