Slime. Flesh. Feelings of emptiness. Feelings of fullness. A disconnected self. The musician MSEA explores these themes in her latest single and music video, “Sex Self.”
Coined by MSEA, the term “Sex Self” refers to a feeling of wholeness; of being unified with your own body. “It’s about feeling powerful, confident, and feeling sensual,” MSEA explains. “It’s a place with no insecurities. Or maybe a place with insecurities but you embrace them. It’s a place of unification.”
MSEA is a Reykjavík-based Canadian who studied music at Humber College in Toronto. Her music consists of experimental pop with added elements of jazz and electronic sounds.
“I miss my sex self” is the first line her new song, which was released as part of a greater art exhibition at EKKISENS on July 19th by the same name. The song and video focus on themes of feeling disconnected from your body—of having lost your “Sex Self”—and the possibility of unification between the mind and body.
MSEA based “Sex Self” on one-line journal entries she wrote over the course of a year after a bad break-up. She describes that time period as difficult, not least because she did not feel like her body belonged to her anymore.
“It was a year of feeling completely disconnected from my body and not feeling any desire or anything,” MSEA relates. “A feeling of not knowing what to do; feeling awkward and heavy. Feeling empty.”
More than just sex
For MSEA, “Sex Self” is acutely related to sensuality. “When I’m feeling disconnected from this thing that I am,” she says, gesturing to her body, “then I lose any sensuality.” As a result, she had no sexual desires during this time, and she questioned whether anyone could see her as a sexual being.
However, MSEA stresses that the idea of the “Sex Self” is not strictly sexual. “The song came from a place of sexual desire, but I think it’s more than that,” she explains. “When you’re feeling this disconnect, it’s bigger than just sex. You also feel disconnected from social life. You can feel isolated in other ways.”
“Sex Self” is also a reflection of standardised sexuality and the societal pressures that dictate what it means to be sexy. The lyrics “I’m lost in heavy / I’m lost in empty” refer to how MSEA went through extreme weight loss and extreme weight gain following the breakup. She feels that society puts too much emphasis on one kind of sexy, which results in unhealthy relationships with our bodies.
The video for “Sex Self”—created and directed in collaboration with artists Claire Paugam and Katerina Blahutova—highlights this observation. MSEA dances across the screen with slime covering her body, and she wears no makeup. “We wanted to explore these ideas of something that might be considered ugly or grotesque,” MSEA explains. “We wanted to shine a spotlight on it. Flesh in general can be sexy. It doesn’t have to be one look.”
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