For Gakuseii McFly, Being Real Means Being Vulnerable
Written by Vocalo Radio on March 3, 2022
“It is okay to be imperfect. We don’t need to hide who we are. Don’t try to fit in, don’t judge yourself — embrace yourself.”– Gakuseii McFly
Swiss rapper and producer Gakuseii McFly knows emotional vulnerability requires bravery.
Gakuseii McFly uses music as a form of healing — while sharing this healing with others. Constantly pushing himself outside of his comfort zone, he strives to spread mental health awareness through his songs. McFly hopes listeners know they are not alone, expressing openly his own battles with mental health and emphasizing there is hope for those currently struggling.
“It was not until I accepted that the problem was me that I could open up the doors on the way to be free,” he raps on December 2021 single “Rebirth.”
“Rebirth,” featuring Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Breana Marin, centers on self-acceptance and being “reborn” into the best version of yourself over a bright R&B beat. The track was featured on Vocalo’s “In Rotation” playlist for February 2022.
We heard from Gakuseii McFly about Switzerland, his mental health journey and his path toward healing through music.
Where are you from?
I was born in Switzerland to a Swiss father and a Peruvian mother. After they got divorced, my family and I spent most of our childhood/youth overseas, mainly in the Americas — Canada, U.S., Mexico. In 2017 my wife and I returned to Saint Gallen, Switzerland, and we have been living here since.
How would you describe where you live to someone who has never been? What is your favorite part about it?
Switzerland is the country of cheese, chocolate, cows, mountains and expensive watches. Stereotypes aside, it is overall a very pleasant and safe country to live in with a low poverty rate. Nature is everywhere, especially lakes, rivers and the famous Swiss Alps. Four languages are spoken in Switzerland: Swiss German, French, Italian and Rumantsch. The cost of living is high. The country is very organized, which means that rules and regulations exist for everything.
Like every country, it has its problems, drug consumption being one of them. Some describe it as a “golden cage,” but honestly it all depends on your perspective. You can live in paradise and be miserable, or live in hell and still be at peace. I say we are very blessed to be able to live here. It is ideal for raising children. I definitely recommend you come visit Switzerland and judge for yourself. I suggest spring or summertime. I will gladly give you tips on what places to visit. Feel free to hit me up anytime.
Can you tell us about the Swiss hip-hop/rap music scene for those who might not be familiar?
I am not too familiar with the Swiss hip-hop scene, to be honest. I grew up listening to U.S.-based rap and hip-hop, so I am fairly new to the Swiss music scene in general. I haven’t really gotten into it. Some of the Swiss rappers I do like are Bligg, Sektion Kuchikästli, Stress, Nativ. They definitely have a dope sound to them. I can say that the Swiss rap scene is evolving and getting more recognition, especially when it comes to production. We have some very talented producers making noise on an international level. The most well know being Oz, who has worked with Drake, Trippie Redd, Travis Scott, Meek Mill, G-Eazy and the list goes on.
You’re an advocate for mental health awareness, mentioning in your submission bio your own personal hardships and how you want your music to help listeners “overcome their personal struggles.” Can you elaborate further on this? How do you feel your music and story can help listeners who may be struggling?
I have been dealing with mental health issues from a very young age. It began with a minor speech impediment and OCD. I didn’t even know this back then, nor did I care much for it. I was just flowing with life. But, looking back, I do remember touching things multiple times, checking all the doors and windows before I left the house, washing my hands frequently and several facial tics. As I got older, I became a lot more self-conscious — not in a good way — which in turn created anxiety, panic attacks and depression. I was living in a hell of my own making. But what could I do? I simply had no control over what was happening to me.
My social phobias got really bad, to the point where I would avoid leaving the house unless I had to. There were several years where I was in a constant state of anger, fear, self-pity and misery. I started self-medicating, and we all know how that goes. At one point I had to be hospitalized for treatment. I have been on so many different medications, and none of them truly worked.
Back to your question, these painful experiences allowed me to become more accepting and understanding of others. I was a judgmental victim for so many years, blaming the world for my problems. My self-esteem was non-existent, empathy was erased from my vocabulary and I was just a body of anxious numbness. For anyone that has been through it, mental health problems are no joke. The challenging part is that they are mostly not visible to the naked eye, so it is a lot harder to understand. A broken arm is clear to see. When it comes to mental health issues, many people still don’t understand it and label them as excuses or laziness. Many of these people actually have their own mental health issues and don’t even know about it.
I want my listeners to know that I hear them, I feel them. I can relate to their pain, to their story. I am also here to tell them that we have the power to overcome these struggles and live a joyful, peaceful life again. We all deserve it. It is a long process of learning, healing and rebuilding, but I am living proof that it is possible. I still have lots to learn, but I am on the right path. Music helps me so much with this. It is the best therapy. It pushes me out of my comfort zone in every single way.
I made a promise to always be honest and real in my music, and guess what that means? It means I have to open up and be vulnerable. I need to talk about some shit that might be uncomfortable, but my listeners deserve that. I deserve that. Being honest with yourself and others is the only way to grow in this life, and I am tired of telling lies.
I feel this part has always been lacking in the hip-hop/rap genre. Don’t get me wrong, there are many exceptions to the rule. But as a whole, you just see too many dudes bragging, being disrespectful, supposedly keeping it real — but are you truly being real? Real doesn’t mean hard, real means honest. Tell us what scares you, show us your vulnerable side. Do the shit you are afraid to do. That takes guts. So that is what I choose to do, wear my heart and my flaws on my sleeve. You can love me, you can judge me, but I will still keep doing me.
How does your new single “Rebirth,” featuring Breana Marin, share the philosophy behind your music? What do you hope listeners will take away from it?
“Rebirth” is about acceptance. I have problems that I need to deal with. It is a moment of clarity. It is no longer the world that is at fault, I know the problem lies within. I have to look within in order to make a change. Once you realize this and decide to take action, you will slowly be reborn into the person you want to be. I am doing exactly this, and “Rebirth” is the beginning of a new era. I hope listeners can take away that it is okay to be imperfect. We don’t need to hide who we are. Don’t try to fit in, don’t judge yourself, embrace yourself. As long as you are kind to yourself and others, you are perfectly imperfect and a wonderful being.
Your next single, “Be The Change,” is set to release soon. What is this single about?
“Be the Change” is a song about a universal problem: bullying. Having been bullied myself and having bullied others in school, I have been on both sides of the coin, and they both suck! Bullying can cause long-term mental health problems in individuals, so it is something that needs to be addressed more seriously.
What’s one piece of advice you wish you’d been given sooner in life, especially pertaining to mental health?
That I am good enough the way I am and others are good enough the way they are. The world would be so much better off if we just accept and respect one another. We don’t have to be best friends, but just be kind. Everyone has their story, everyone has their struggle.
Can you share something that makes you smile daily?
My beautiful wife, my daughter, my family and friends. My dogs. My beautiful momma in the sky looking down upon us. The opportunity to live a new day and grow as a person. I am just grateful, at this point.
What’s next for Gakuseii McFly? What should listeners be on the lookout for?
I am ready to face all my fears and take my music to the next level. I owe it to myself and to my listeners. My goal is to release a new song each month, take on as many gigs as possible and keep the momentum growing. I am 35 years old and nowhere near reaching my prime yet as an artist. I want my music to be heard worldwide so we can spread a positive message that will empower people. I want to make a change with my music and prove that if I can make a change, so can you. This is coming from a guy who has spent many years trapped in the darkest mental pits of hell, sedated on various drugs, with no perspective in life, and I pulled myself back out.
Now I’m going all in. See you at the top.
Follow Gakuseii McFly on Instagram and stream his music on Spotify below!
Interviewed and edited for length and clarity by Milo Keranen
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