“The video is in part inspired by the Truman Show and is about being trapped in a false construct,” Yola said in a release. “It is supposedly perfect, but you're trapped in a life that wasn’t meant for you. I wanted to convey the feeling that everything you know to be true is not quite working the way it’s supposed to. The island at the end is a paradigm of mental conditioning, we are all trapped on an island of our own thinking, until we change it.”
The song taps into the civil unrest many have been feeling over the past year. Yola asks listeners “to unite and turn our focus to those with a stranglehold on humanity” instead of falling prey to “the false divides created to distract us from those few who are in charge of the majority of the world’s wealth and use the ‘divide and conquer’ tactic to keep it.”
Last year, the pandemic derailed Yola's plans to tour stadiums (with Chris Stapleton and The Black Keys) as well as numerous festival plays. In addition, her plans were sidelined to fly to Australia to film a role as Sister Rosetta Tharpe in the new Baz Luhrmann Elvis biopic. Yola used this unexpected gift of time and space to become grounded both physically and mentally, as she began to craft the songs that would eventually become Stand For Myself.
Some songs began in the twilight hours of Yola’s pandemic isolation, reflecting on her personal and our collective moments of longing and awakening. Other songs germinated years ago and were inspired by personal moments, including “Break The Bough,” which Yola started to write following her mother’s funeral. Tracks were also co-written with Ruby Amanfu, John Bettis, Pat McLaughlin, Natalie Hemby, Joy Oladokun, Paul Overstreet, Liz Rose, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Hannah Vasanth and Bobby Wood.
“It’s a collection of stories of allyship, black feminine strength through vulnerability, and loving connection from the sexual to the social. All celebrating a change in thinking and paradigm shift at their core.” Yola said, adding, “It is an album not blindly positive and it does not simply plead for everyone to come together. It instead explores ways that we need to stand for ourselves throughout our lives, what limits our connection as humans and declares that real change will come when we challenge our thinking and acknowledge our true complexity.”
Yola also announced today that she will be one of few artists to perform at both Newport Folk and Newport Jazz in the same year, when she joins the lineup of both events this summer. She will also be performing dates with Chris Stapleton on his rescheduled tour in 2021 and will headline The Ryman Auditorium in 2022. Head here for more information on tour dates and Stand For Myself.