Oliver Sim shares new single ‘Hideous’ about his HIV diagnosis

Taken from his forthcoming debut solo album 'Hideous Bastard'

Oliver Sim has shared his new single ‘Hideous’, which addresses the xx musician’s diagnosis with HIV at the age of 17.

The track is the latest preview of Sim’s newly announced debut solo album ‘Hideous Bastard’, which has been produced by Jamie xx and is set for release on September 9 via Young.

Sim has today (May 23) shared ‘Hideous’, which features Bronski Beat and The Communards’ Jimmy Somerville on guest vocals. It’s also been accompanied by a new Yann Gonzalez-directed video, which you can see below.

In a note accompanying its release, Sim explained that ‘Hideous’ explores his experience of living with HIV.

“Early on in the making of my record, ‘Hideous Bastard’, I realised that I was writing a lot about fear and shame,” Sim wrote. “I imagine that might paint a picture of a dark, ‘woe is me’-sounding album, but in recent years I’ve become a firm believer that the best antidote to these feelings can be bringing them to the surface and shedding some light on them.

“I haven’t written the record to dwell, but rather to free myself of some of the shame and fear that I’ve felt for a long time. So, I hear a lot of the music as joyous, because the experience of writing and recording it has been the complete opposite of what fear and shame have been for me.”

Sim continued: “Two thirds in, having a good idea of what the record was about, I realised I’d been circling around one of the things that has probably caused me the most fear and shame. My HIV status. I’ve been living with HIV since I was 17 and it’s played with how I’ve felt towards myself, and how I’ve assumed others have felt towards me, from that age and into my adult life.

“So, quite impulsively, I wrote about it on a song called ‘Hideous’. I thought I could release it into the world and be done with it. After playing the song to my mum, being the protective and wise mum that she is, she gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received. She suggested that I spend some time having conversations with people in my life first. Either people I hadn’t told yet, or people I had told but hadn’t wanted to talk much further on it. Since writing ‘Hideous’, I’ve spent the past two years having those conversations, which was difficult and uncomfortable to start with, but has allowed me to feel a lot freer and has only strengthened my relationship with myself and with the people in my life.”

Speaking about Somerville’s contribution to the song, Sim added: “One of the most special relationships I’ve gained from this has been with Mr Jimmy Somerville. I knew for ‘Hideous’ I wanted a guardian angel to appear in the song and sing to me the words I needed to hear. Not only has Jimmy been such a powerful voice around HIV and AIDS for decades, but the man quite literally sounds like an angel. I reached out to him as a complete fan boy, but now consider him a real good friend. He encouraged me to do the song for myself. He taught me ‘glamour’ is a Scottish word. And, most importantly, he reminded me to not take myself too seriously, no good comes from that!

“‘Am I Hideous?’ feels far less like a question I’m asking the world now. I know the answer. As scary as it still feels, I’m excited to share this music with you, and I hope you enjoy it.”

Oliver Sim - 'Hideous Bastard' artwork
Oliver Sim – ‘Hideous Bastard’ artwork

Speaking in a statement today, Ian Green, CEO of the Terrence Higgins Trust (the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity), said: “Oliver’s exploration of the shame he felt following his HIV diagnosis in his debut solo material will have a huge impact. The song ‘Hideous’ is a powerful insight into the shame and internalised stigma many of us living with HIV experience where we pre-empt other people’s opinions of us to the detriment of our mental health and wellbeing.

“As Oliver shows, you can now live a long, healthy life with HIV and a diagnosis doesn’t have to stop you from achieving your dreams. But that doesn’t mean that diagnosis is an easy one to receive and why we must continue to do the work required to end the stigma still surrounding HIV. No one living with HIV should feel hideous or lesser, but too often we know that is the case.

“We’re sure that many more people will find out about the incredible progress that’s been made in preventing, testing for and treating HIV because of Oliver. Including that we can say with absolute confidence that someone living with HIV and on effective treatment can’t pass it on to their partners.

“But, as Oliver’s song shows, stigma remains a huge issue for people living with HIV and has a significant negative impact on wellbeing, sex and relationships. It also stops others from coming forward to get tested and access life-changing treatment. That’s why it’s so important we’re all working towards a world free of HIV stigma – because only then will we also be able to end new HIV transmissions.”

Sim has previously shared the singles ‘Romance With A Memory’ and ‘Fruit’.