Happy Valentine's Day! Get ready to get emotional with VINCINT's debut EP The Feeling. It could not come at a better time, and is sure to have you crying, laughing, dancing, and on the verge of texting your ex. Most importantly, The Feeling will make you feel heard. Only VINCINT has the range to verbalize the intense emotions that embody the end of a beautiful relationship. PAPER had the opportunity to sit with the rising pop star and discuss his six song project, how to get over a breakup, and the importance of radical honesty.
Top: Theophilio NYC, Pants: Dior, Jacket: KidSuper Studios, Earring: Area
Your new EP, The Feeling, is so vulnerable. Why was that important to you?
In my day-to-day life I tend to be pretty unguarded, but I don't wear my heart on my sleeve. For me, I wanted to make sure everything on the project was open and honest. I didn't want people to question how I felt about things. I wanted people to know exactly how I felt in the moment and that there was honesty in the songs, so that when it came out there was no question of authenticity. I wanted it to be so genuine it felt uncomfortable.
That raw honesty seems to be rare these days. How do you carry that with you in your relationships and as an artist?
It's so strange that it's rare because I think that's what art should be and is. Your art should be exactly what you're feeling and exactly what you want to say without any barriers or metaphors to cover it up and make yourself seem safe. Art isn't supposed to be safe. It's supposed to be honest and sometimes honesty is dangerous.
In my relationships, I'm big on telling the truth. I've been in relationships in the past where I've lied or the other person has lied, and it creates a toxic foundation because you're either lying out of fear of being seen or you're lying out of fear of being hurt. It's a waste of time because you could just tell the truth and go on that journey together, as opposed to building lie upon lie and never figuring it out.
Pants and earring: Gucci, Belt: Calvin Luo, Thong: Theophilio NYC
Can you talk about what you were going through while you made The Feeling? It had me in my feels!
When I wrote "Please Don't Fall In Love," I didn't intend for it to be a single or for anyone to hear it. I had seen my ex somewhere and he was talking to someone else, and in my mind — you know, because we're all psychopaths — I figured they were dating, going to fall in love, and have children and that would be really stressful for me. But! I went to the person I wrote the song with and told them how I was hoping my ex wouldn't fall in love with someone new because that would hurt. I still love them and I want it to be us, but at least if it's not going to be that way please don't do the special things you did with me with someone new. At the time I wrote all these songs (like "Miss You") I was still missing him. I was still sad and heartbroken. I think I needed to be in that space to write all these.
It almost sounds like writing this album was an exercise in healing.
Oh, for sure. I wrote these songs to get out of my head because if not, I'll go nuts.
Top, pants and shoes: Gucci, Blazer: Boss, Earring: VINCINT's own
Do you find a sense of closure now in putting this body of work together and releasing it?
Yes, definitely. After I write these songs I don't listen to them. I put them away because for me it's supposed to be my therapy. I put the emotion and everything I'm going through in the song, and I tuck it away. I don't listen to it for weeks until it seems time to go there again. Every song on this EP was with a producer and writer, and I went in not exactly knowing what it was going to be, but I knew I needed to have a body of music that had this feeling of nostalgia. My memories are super vivid. They pop up and play in front of my eyes like television, and I needed to have that in every song. I didn't let anyone listen to the songs we put together until the very end because I wanted it to be cohesive.
What are you bringing to this project that's different from anything you've previously released?
Directness. My past songs are fun and you can dance to them. There's a message in each of my songs, but I think this project represents a whole story. I'm not giving my audience a glimpse of who I am. I'm showing them raw parts of me. I want people to hear all of it. Yes, I was really sad and depressed, but I was also really happy! And sometimes I was horny! And other times I was really joyful because that's what life is, what relationships are. Breakups aren't always sad. You can find joy, anger, or any emotion in that space. That was the overall context I wanted to express.
Top: Theophilio NYC, Pants: Dior, Jacket: KidSuper Studios, Earring: Area, Bracelet: Gucci
What is the importance of acknowledging all those different emotions?
It's healthy. I want to feel everything because you only live so long. I think exploring what emotions can give you is a beautiful thing. Like I said, you can find joy in anger. I've destroyed things and been like, That made me feel great! I'm angry, but expressing it made me feel better. I've also been really happy in being super sad. Have you ever watched a really sad movie just to cry and feel good? That! The perspective of anger only being anger or sadness only being sadness is kind of cheating your feelings.
What song do you connect with the most on the project?
That's hard. Maybe "Save Myself" for right now because I'm feeling like I can do this myself. I can find my happiness and find love. It's a self-journey of realizing what you want, what you like and what you will or won't put up with. Right now, that's really what's resonating with me. Tomorrow might be "Miss You" because I could be really sad, so don't quote me. [Laughs]
Clothing and accessories: Gucci
What does love mean to you? How do you know it’s the real thing?
It's so funny, I was just reading @humansofny about how a woman finds out that her husband was a literal bankrobber and has been lying to her for 40 years. At the end of the story she says, "I knew that I loved you because in the worst of it all I still wanted to know if you were okay." And I was like that's it for me! That's how I know I really, really care about someone. If in my worst moment I'm still wondering if you're okay and hoping that you're good, I know that I love you. I think it's selfless. Love for me is softness, trust and honesty.
How do you get over a breakup? Especially if they moved on?
I'm a massive romantic, and in my opinion, I don't think you ever get over a breakup. I think I just live with the fact that it's not going to work out and you have to just move on. I don't think you "get over it." I eat a lot [Laughs], and I go out drinking and dancing with my friends. For the most part, I write songs. I get out on stage and literally dance and sing it out because, if not, I'm going to hold it in. That's just how I deal with it personally. Other people deal with it in different ways. Some people cry. I cry a lot. I cry everyday [Laughs]. I cried today. It's finding ways of release.
Top and earring: Area, Pants: Dior
Do you believe in love at first sight?
I do. I think I'm a little cynical now and I'm hoping that goes away. I'm a big believer in the spark. When you meet someone and you're talking to them and you realize you don't ever want this to stop. The genuine moment of realizing you could talk to someone for the rest of your life even if you met after five minutes. I fully believe in that, but I also believe it takes more than a few weeks to really fall in love with someone.
What is special to you about queer love?
Being queer is incredible, like what an amazing life. I think it's the best thing because we have this kind of built-in ”we don't give a fuck” thing because we've been told by everyone that we should. Our lives mean something more to us because we had to fight for them. There's so much that goes into being us, so when it comes to being in love with someone else who knows that experience it's a very powerful thing. I'm a big believer that being gay is a magical thing. People alienate us; they see us with our freedom and honesty and joy, and they wonder how they can achieve those things. It's like, Shut up and live! Stop caring so much about what other people think and just be yourself. That's the real thing that makes us so powerful. When you get to see that in a context of intimacy, beauty and love it's just like, Woah!
Clothing and accessories: Gucci
What does your ideal relationship look like? What's important to you in a partnership?
Someone I can rely on. Someone that pushes me to be better than I am. Someone who doesn't let me let myself down. When I'm tired, they push me to keep going. And in turn, someone who wants that for me as well. Desire is a huge part of that and it's such a sexy quality when they can push you to be better than you are and want more for you than you want for yourself.
How does your sexuality affect your creativity?
It's definitely a big instrument in it. My sexuality plays so many different parts. There are times that I don't want to have sex at all. Yes, my sexuality attributes to my music, but it's my empathetic side that probably drives it more than anything. It's knowing that desire is out there that turns me on, and inspires me to write music and play shows. My sexuality isn't just sitting on a shelf. It's all in a big bowl, and it turns on when I need it to. I let it play out the way it wants to.
Top, pants and shoes: Gucci, Blazer: Boss, Earring: VINCINT's own
How do you deal with feelings of loneliness?
I have a really great support group of friends and family who don't let me sit in my feelings for too long. Whenever I'm feeling like I want to wallow in my own self-pity, my two best friends lift me up and remind me of who I am and my self-worth. Feeling sad about something is fine, but wallowing in it for the sake of wallowing in it is a waste of creativity.
What’s the larger message of The Feeling?
It's okay to feel things and express that openly and not be ashamed of it. Sometimes bad things happen in relationships, and it's okay to talk about it and learn from it. We, as humans, mask things and that's not healthy. Of course! The message I want people to get from The Feeling is that it's okay to be in love. Don't let love terrify you so much that the thought of it is so daunting you don't want to give it a try because that would be a waste of a life and great experiences you could have. These songs came from love. Even though I'm not with that person now, the love is still there. There's a reason all of this was created. I have no regrets about any of it. This feeling — the sadness, the anger, the beauty — all of it is the culmination of love. It's serendipitous that it's coming out on Valentine's Day, but it played out that way. I'm happy.
Save and share VINCINT's V-Day cards, featuring lyrics from The Feeling EP, below.
Photographer: Kimber Capriotti
Photo Assistant: Vicky Roseburgh
Stylist: Roberto Johnson
Stylist Assistant: Brianna Castillo
Groomer: Sadhvi Babu
Botanical Artist: Lutfina Janania
Valentine's Day Cards: Jonathan Conrad