L-FRESH The LION Opens Up On ‘Activist Burnout’ And Releases A New Video Featuring Jimblah

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Both the song and video feature Jimblah, and according to L-FRESH his chorus perfectly captures what the song has to say about the way we deal with struggle and defeat. “Jimblah’s lyric: ‘A ballad of a soldier, defeated by his own gun’ really resonated with me. So many times we are the source of our own defeat.”

Despite regularly covering themes of racism and prejudice, L-FRESH’s music has a reputation for being overwhelmingly positive and uplifting. That’s why ‘unBECOME’, covering deep, personal struggles, stands out. Lyrics like “Saw the state of the world and what some are dealt with, wore my heart on my sleeve and tried to help them, but it affected my health, ’cause in trying to save the world, I couldn’t save myself,” come from L-FRESH’s own recent experiences in asylum seeker advocacy.

“In that verse I’m going into this idea of being burnt out by trying to give to the causes that I’m passionate about. In particular it talks about feeling burnt out from the time that I spent working with asylum seekers in Melbourne and trying to help, but realising at some point that you can only give so much.

“I’m not the Department of Immigration, I can’t give them what they actually want and need, but you try so hard to give you eventually burnout,” says L-FRESH.

The issue of burnout is something L-FRESH thinks is common across Australia’s activist communities. “I don’t know how self-aware we are. I certainly didn’t know I was burnt out until I moved back to Sydney and had to sleep for two weeks. I couldn’t do anything! Sometimes your body just shuts down. I’ve seen so many people, activists, social workers, community workers, community lawyers, the whole spectrum… people get burnt out and they get stressed. It affects everything, and there’s a reason why there’s high turnover rates in these sectors.”

The video for ‘unBECOME’ features messages fans have sent L-FRESH, encapsulating their feelings about the song and their own experiences with anxiety and depression. “I spent four years not knowing that I was living with this thing called anxiety and when I figured it out and realised I wasn’t the only one… it just changed everything. Writing a couple of songs about it was an important way of letting people know that they aren’t alone in it. It’s great to see it’s starting these conversations,” L-FRESH said.

This weekend L-FRESH is heading to Canberra to take part in Junkee’s flagship event, Junket. “The thing that’s excited me the most is being able to connect with people across the country who are in a variety of different fields. That’s kind of rare, to be in a space like that,” L-FRESH said about Junket. “Everyone’s doing stuff, and is active in what they’re passionate about. I can just imagine what that vibe is going to be like. That’s making me excited about it.”