By Clare Martin
Belfast-based artist DYVR is premiering their single “Holding Back” featuring Benjamin Yellowitz here on Nameless Faceless today ahead of its wider release tomorrow. The electro-pop track is the first off their upcoming EP Part 3 and serves as a lush, thoughtful look at “the masks we wear in order to feel like we’re part of the world,” DYVR explains. “Before I began my journey into self-acceptance, I was performing a role; going through the motions of what I had been taught was the natural order of things.”
“As queer people, we aren’t educated about the possibilities of what our identities could be, so we can only choose to try and fit as much of ourselves into the limited space we are given,” they continue. “I wrote ‘Holding Back’ as a way of asking the question, ‘should real love hold me back?’ This song is about dropping the mask, and learning to love who you truly are. This is a journey I’m still on, but one that empowers me more every day.”
“Holding Back” feels like a sonic journey itself, ascending until it culminates in a moody bop. Glittering synth propels the melody forward and the thumping beat rattles in your chest, urging you to move. DYVR discusses embracing their queerness in their smooth falsetto: “Anger, lust, mercy, shame / All the ways you say my name.” Yellowitz adds his own story in a spoken word segment, cheekily alluding to the pervasiveness of heteronormativity as he muses, “I long for thick hair upon my lips / But Barbie and Ken were still riding that Jeep.”
The song ends with high chipmunk vocals stirring over a clip from the 1963 film The Haunting (an adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s beloved novel The Haunting of Hill House). In it, the character Eleanor (Julie Harris) throws barbs at the more worldly Theodora, whose character is often interpreted as queer: “I’d rather be innocent than like you. The world is full of inconsistencies. Unnatural things. Nature’s mistakes they’re called. You, for instance.”
These harsh words echo DYVR’s thoughts about “going through the motions of what I had been taught was the natural order of things” and the harmful words so many queer kids hear growing up in relation to their sexuality. On “Holding Back,” we can let go of the expectations thrust upon us, and find peace in exploring our authentic selves.
Listen to DYVR’s single “Holding Back” featuring Benjamin Yellowitz below.