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Watch: Welsh drill artist aims to normalise conversations around men’s emotions

21 Apr 2024 5 minute read
Sound x Sage Todz

A Welsh drill artist has opened up about the complexities of modern relationships and the difficulty for men to open as part of a campaign aimed at ending violence against women and girls.

Talking to presenter Luke Davies, Eretoda Ogunbanwo – who goes by the stage name Sage Todz – discusses modern relationships and perceptions of masculinity in 21st century Wales, saying he wants to see conversations on these topics become the norm.

Sound is an award-winning campaign from the Welsh Government that was launched in 2023 as a community led platform encouraging young men to take personal and collective responsibility in ending violence against women and girls.

“Normalising”

Sage moved to Gwynedd from Essex in 2007, where he learnt the Welsh language.

He was keen to be involved with the Sound campaign to help normalise the idea of men opening up about their emotions and having good people around them.

However, he doesn’t want to just tell people to make it a normal thing.

He said: “I got involved with the [Sound] campaign because instead of telling people to normalise things, it’s best to just be normal about things. If someone sees someone they look up, to talk about a subject, it can feel empowering or enabling to them.”

During his chat with Luke, bilingual rapper Sage shines a light on the challenges faced by young men around expressing their emotions, saying “it can be difficult to open up.”

Growing up as a young man in Wales, Sage has been influenced by strong male characters in his family, particularly his father Pastor Olufemi Ogunbanwo.

Talking about his dad, Sage said: “I have good blueprints, my dad is definitely a huge example of a great, great male role model. Discipline. Strength of will. Strength of character. Integrity – be a man of your word, don’t snake around things. He’s instilled those things in me. Be someone other people can rely on as much as you can.”

Alongside the influence of his dad, Sage also believes having a dependable friendship group is key to being able to talk.

He said: “There are potential barriers for men to talk, but if you have a good friendship group that you know you can trust, it omits those barriers.

“It’s important to have a group of people that you can be open with, share your emotions, talk about deeper topics and feel accepted within that.

“There is a lot of knowledge and information out there and we’re more [emotionally] ‘intellectual’ than previous generations because we have access to a lot more information, but it’s also about applying that.”

Cymuned / Community

He added: “It can be difficult to open up because as a young man, I work better with solutions rather than by speaking. If I am speaking about something, I’d rather have a solution rather than just talk about how I feel. I think a lot of young men feel that way and there’s not always a place to go for a practical solution.”

Sage believes young men need a sense of community and purpose to be able to help direct their emotions.

Going to the gym and eating healthy food is an important coping mechanism for Sage’s mental health. But he believes men should try different approaches and see what works for them.

Sage Todz

He said: “I think a lot of young men desire and need a sense of community and purpose. It’s about directing that purpose and opening up to people you feel safe around. I have seen a gardening mental health club for older men, and they don’t necessarily talk loads [about their problems] but they feel like they are applying their problems to something.

“Some of the best coping mechanisms when going through times are going to the gym, keeping healthy and eating the right food, talking to your friends and therapy. I have done counselling sessions, and it can help.

“I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all approach, you can try different approaches to see what works for you.”

Sage’s latest single, Gone Seen Blocked (GSB), is about relationships in the modern day and how they can be disposable.

He said: “It’s about relationships in the modern day and how they can be quite disposable. Gone as in from your life. Seen, left on seen, and then blocked – you have the option to completely block someone out of your life.”

One aim

Sage also explores the notion that to reduce problematic behaviours towards women, it is important to surround yourself with the right people and open discussions around appropriate behaviours. 

“I surround myself with like-minded people and I think there’s a wider conversation to have with your friends if you don’t morally agree with their views.

When asked who Sage would describe as ‘Sound As,’ he said: “I look up to a lot of my family members including my dad and my uncles, they are Sound As.”

Sound is a bilingual platform for young men, saying no to abuse and violence against women and girls. It has one aim: to make Wales the safest place to be a woman.

It was created to be the ‘go-to’ platform for positive masculinity in Wales.

It empowers young men to champion and celebrate positive masculinity, to hold each other accountable for their actions, support one another to become the best versions of themselves, and, in turn, end violence against women.

Find out more here.


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Glwyo
Glwyo
28 days ago

Laudable. But! it’s very sad that a campaign to improve men’s mental health cannot have men’s mental health be its goal. Another demonstration of society’s implicit assumption that the purpose of a man’s life is to be a means to some other end. And you wonder why we’re so inclined to suicide.

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