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VAUGHAN articulates the struggle of queer shame and sexual repression on the ‘Isabella’ visual 

An intimate yet fervent dynamic between VAUGHAN and Isabella symbolises the young artist’s own internal struggle of confronting a love that he believes will be the answer to his sexuality.

VAUGHAN is the pseudonym for Thomas Harvey; it’s a project through which the soloist alleviates his complex life-experiences with lyrical themes of a bruised reality and thickly-layered alt-pop production. Born in 1995 to a traditional family in the English countryside of Kent, VAUGHAN was naturally drawn to music and the stage from a young age.

Though he was outgoing and at ease on the exterior, he struggled to truly express his identity and sexuality. Coming out to his parents as a queer man at the age of 19, he embarked on a strictly hedonistic pilgrimage, pursuing a self-indulgent lifestyle. He later returned to the UK and studied at Leeds College of Music, inching further towards artistic autonomy, honing his talent and building a portfolio writing for the likes of BMI, Universal, Sony ATV, Hospital Records and Mahogany. Seeking aural reference points, the singer/songwriter has been compared to the likes of BANKS, FKA Twigs and RY X.

Since the release of his debut and official introduction ‘I AM’ earlier this year, VAUGHAN has released a string of singles in the run-up to the EP of the same title. The accompanying video for third single lifted from the forthcoming body of work, ‘Isabella’ stars model and actor Laura Gwyneth and actor Josh Maddison. The visual was filmed and directed at Bush Hall, West London by Masses Collective (Giorgio Armani, Boy & Bear) and styled by Ryan Wohlegemut (Harry Styles, PAPER Mag).

‘Isabella’ captures VAUGHAN’s ascension to self-acceptance. Thematically the single is shackled with repression and queer shame; “We created such an honest reflection of how I was feeling at that time and I’m really proud of what we’ve all created,” commented VAUGHAN. “I was so torn between wanting to be honest with my sexuality and who I am, but also afraid to face that truth. Isabella showed me that being queer was something that I couldn’t change.” Isabella was his last attempt to supress his queerness. Ultimately, VAUGHAN decides to embrace his fragmented self and at the conclusion of the clip, unexpectedly breaks free from his own repressions, bravely facing his truth.

Musically, the track’s ever-present low-frequencies capture the claustrophobia of VAUGHAN’s experience. Mixed by Cameron Gower Poole (Mahalia, Mabel, Lauv), the topline exhibits both tension to the point of fragility, and also optimism, feeding the song’s narrative.

“For the ‘Isabella’ clip we wanted to play on the theme of identity”, comments Matt Dempsey of Masses Collective and director of the visual, “Vaughan’s lyrics are about trying to be someone he’s not so we wanted to reflect this with a sense of disorientation. He’s also looking for clarity so we created an arc in the narrative that shows this, going through feelings of passion, intimacy and even aggression because he’s fighting these conflicting emotions.”

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