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Joshua Bassett's Heartbreaking Interview For GQ


He details his experience with online and offline bullying, heartbreak, sexual abuse and self-esteem.
The Hate He Received

  • Joshua feels now that he has the right to stand up for himself. After "Driver's License" was released, he has been getting unwarranted hate and negative attention everywhere he goes.

  • “I would see TikToks with like 50 million views and 10 million likes saying, ‘If I ever see that kid on the street, I'm going to fucking kill him,’” Bassett says. “It's hard to see that and then be living in New York and walking down the street.”

  • He came out at the beginning of this year but didn't go too in depth about his personal life because he wasn't ready.

  • His record label wanted to take advantage of the moment. But at the time, “it sort of felt like a losing battle… If I try and defend myself in any way, it just felt impossible.” He says that although he’s tried, "[Rodrigo] hasn't spoken to me since ‘Drivers License’ came out." Nevertheless, her songs have been unavoidable: “I would be on my way to sessions and I would hear two songs on the same station in one Uber ride.” At a coffee shop last summer, the staff started playing Rodrigo songs back to back until Bassett left, he says; an employee apologized when he came back a few days later.

  • In regards to his relationship with Rodrigo, he says, "People don't realize how long ago that was. It's not as recent as it seems. I'm a completely different person now." Later, he says “I’m not here to expose people. It was eating me alive, and I couldn’t keep it in anymore.”

  • He's open about feeling messy, unpredictable, and nonlinear: "I went to Spain with a couple of friends. There was one night in particular. I finally let go... I scream-cried for three and a half hours to the point where I lost my voice for two weeks," he says.

The Sexual Abuse He Went Through

  • That excavation has turned up other, more serious traumas, he suddenly tells me. Midway through our conversation, Basset out of nowhere states that "I experienced sexual abuse a lot in my childhood.” He looks down and tears up as he continues: “I didn't remember that until last year, which is pretty insane. I buried it so far. And when I was a teen, a much older man routinely abused me, and I wasn't able to see it for what it was at the time." “Set Me Free,” the third song released today, is in part about processing this experience, he says—he calls it “an anthem for me and the sort of people who’ve held pain and power over me my whole life.” He continues: “you’ve taken so much from me, but you don’t get to take all of me.” Bassett plans to explore this further on an episode of a podcast series dedicated to “heavy talks” that he says will launch next year—he says he can “hopefully help people who are experiencing that” and that he wants it to be “the podcast that I wish I had when I was a kid.”

How It's Going Now

  • Tucked away, alone in Woodstock, Bassett has dedicated himself to processing it all. He left his West Village apartment and now “live[s] nowhere.” He's collecting self-help books, which lie thrown around a mattress nestled in a back corner of the estate. When he’s not working on this new body of work, he’s been journaling, crying almost daily (“it’s great”), and in therapy twice a week.

  • Bassett claims he’s now “so much stronger than I was before.” But he’s still wary. "I got a protector screen on my phone so people can't look at it when I'm at a coffee shop," he says. "There are certain people who I can't hang out with in public because they're too loud," he says as he lowers his voice and looks around for no one in particular. Later, he adds, "I feel like a lot of this last year people haven't seen me as a human being."




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Tags: interview, music / musician (pop), olivia rodrigo
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