I was lost in the city / You could see it in my eyes / But I was still a dreamer / In the middle of the night / Now I’m a-live, alive / I’m alive, Yola beams through her new single, “Stand For Myself.”
The vintage soul queen enlivens her Black female power anthem with a brand new video. Directed by Allister Ann, the hypnotic footage features the folk star escaping structural entrapments. She grows impassioned as she navigates through a labyrinth of neon tunnels until she finally breaks free from the maze on a motorcycle.
“My school years were during the ‘90s and ‘00s, and Missy Elliott’s videos were always aesthetically superior to me.” Yola shared.
“I feel that the video is set in the antechamber to freedom. The feeling of escaping something truly oppressive and heading towards an unknown with a sense of hope and choice you haven’t felt in a long time. We all have the capacity to go through this process in our own minds, I kinda look like a superhero at times, but I’m not. I’m just a person trying to be free.”
Co-penned with Dan Auerbach, Hannah V, and Natalie Hemby, “Stand For Myself,” strips bare the constructs of tokenism and bigotry to reflect the challenges the Grammy-nominated artist faced with her ideas of identity. With the backing vocal strength of The McCrady Sisters, Yola exhibits what she’s overcome as an inspiration to others tampered by the societal expectations of what it means to belong.
“The song’s protagonist ‘token,’ has been shrinking themselves to fit into the narrative of another’s making, but it becomes clear that shrinking is pointless,” the artist describes. “This song is about a celebration of being awake from the nightmare supremacist paradigm. Truly alive, awake, and eyes finally wide open and trained on your path to self-actualisation. You are thinking freely and working on undoing the mental programming that has made you live in fear. It is about standing for ourselves throughout our lives and real change coming when we challenge our thinking. “
The fierce single serves as the title track of her forthcoming record, Stand For Myself, due July 30 via Easy Eye Sound. Produced by Auerbach, the 12-track collection traces a musical thread to Yola’s most eclectic musical inspirations. From the seminal albums Yola discovered via her Mother’s ‘70s record collection, to her love of eclectic British radio, which featured a fluid mix of ‘90s neo soul, R&B and britpop—all which soundtracked her childhood and teenage years in Bristol, England.
In a newfangled pop-rock fashion, Yola wields her experienced prejudice, homelessness, stress-induced voice loss, and other shape-shifting traumas to deliver a message of hope through her candescent strength.
Yola concludes, “This is who I’ve always been in music and in life. There was a little hiatus where I got brainwashed out of my own majesty, but a bitch is back.”
Pre-save Yola’s forthcoming album, Stand For Myself, here and watch her new music video below.
Photo Credit: Seth Dunlap