Billy Lloyd is a genderqueer artist with an uncanny musical ability. It isn’t often that one stumbles across talent of such caliber. With the release of his debut EP Who ( / ) on 10 August worldwide, I was lucky enough to preview the first music video for ‘Mirrors’. Here we discuss the song and its symbolism with the artist himself and thereafter you can take a look at this amazing piece of art.
What inspired this song, and eventually the video?
The song comes from a place of being obsessed with my image, both online and in real life, and wanting it to be perfect in every way. But at the same time, what I wanted to look like was changing, as I explored my gender identity and the way I wanted to present myself. But I felt trapped by conventional, gendered standards of beauty and felt unable to make any changes to reflect who I was becoming.
The video style was inspired by Donna Haraway’s ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’, which deals a lot with dualism and the concept of gender as something to move away from. Also robots are visually without flaws, which reflects the obsession with perfection. The kaleidoscope was a visually interesting way to mess with my face, to reflect my ‘fractured identity’ – and it also looked cool.
In your song, you make reference to the term ‘perfection’, what does this word mean to you?
Perfection is something that I’ve always striven towards and have always been socialised to strive towards. I know it’s unattainable but I’m still driven to aim for it in everything I do.
“Hours spent, do I look pure yet?” Within your own personal life, what acts were these that you were spending hours on? Were they ever successful? Where did you learn these from – where did the idea that you could remold yourself come from?
This lyric refers to the amount of time I spent obsessing over my physical appearance, especially my skin. There have been times when I’ve certainly been happy with the way I looked, but when I was writing the song I was dealing a lot with trying to unify the way I felt inside with the way I looked on the outside.
Through my exploration of the internet and other queer people online, I realized that you have the power to control your image and can completely change the way you look if you want to. Something like wearing a bright red lipstick is such a small physical act but it can totally change the way people see you, and the way you see yourself.
“Stains on my skin” – What are these stains?
It’s literally referring to spots, but linking them to imperfections in general, and trying to overcome a feeling of not looking ‘queer’ enough.
Why do the imperfections overshadow? What has allowed them to become so visibly obvious?
I think when you focus on any one thing for too long you start to see problems that aren’t there.
“I don’t look like myself anymore” – Here you lament over how unrecognizable you have become, but was this not the initial aim?
The aim is to change myself to look more like ‘myself’ but the song is from the place where I haven’t made that change yet. So I don’t look like myself on the inside (i.e., my gender identity) on the outside.
Are you familiar with the Social Mirror Theory which states that we cannot have mirrors in the mind without mirrors in the external world? The theory states that all introspection is based on external stimuli. Thus the image seen in a mirror will always be a dynamic of the ideas of those around us. So are mirrors truly deceiving? And if so how can we ensure our reflections are as close to the absolute as possible?
It’s certainly a theory that makes a lot of sense to me. I absolutely agree that the way we see ourselves is controlled by the world around us. We’re taught to see certain things as good and bad and there’s an entire multi-billion pound industry whose entire job is to guide us to see certain things as right or wrong.
I think the first step is recognising the way we are taught to see ourselves and reinforcing the idea that we control our images, not a corporation. But ultimately it’s inevitable that we will still be affected by external stimuli, because it’s designed to affect us.
You can view the spectacular video here from 9pm GMT on 6 July.