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Lostchild on overcoming drink and drug addiction to make his best music yet

"I can't use substances to run away from my problems anymore."

By Will Stroude

Words: Alex Blynn

This article first appeared in Attitude issue 317, December 2019.

Honestly is the best policy for London-based singer Lostchild, 27, as he charts his journey from the depths of addiction to sobriety on new EP Like Like.

How did you settle on the stage name Lostchild?

It’s taken from the cover of the Radiohead album, OK Computer. The isolation I felt as a child never really went away, so the name makes sense to me.

Sticking with the “lost” theme, what one item would you be at a loss without?

My sobriety key ring. No matter what happens in my life and in my head, it always reminds me of where I’ve come from.

Photography: Lexy James

Tell us about your new EP, Like Like.

Like Like is my first EP written sober, since I came into recovery a year and a half ago. Although my last record [Blacklist] contained songs about my life falling apart, this time around I’m painting a picture of my life without alcohol and drugs. It’s a positive energy in some aspects, but the struggles of [being] sober are definitely the main focus here. I can’t use substances to run away from my problems any more.

What was the writing process like?

There is a lot of reflecting, and a lot more honesty. Before, the songs were about either celebrating how messed-up my life was, or despairing about how out of control I was. This time, I’m able to speak about the realities of my life through clean eyes, which is painful, but there’s hope there, too.

Photography: Lexy James

What advice do you have for anyone who is struggling with substance abuse?

All I can say is, if you think you have a problem, you probably do — but you don’t have to deal with it alone. When I realised I had nowhere left to turn, I reached out to someone I knew in recovery and he took me to a meeting. Being around other people going through the same thing encouraged me to be honest for the first time. It made me [confront] the problems in my life that I was suppressing with drugs and alcohol, such as social anxiety and low self-esteem. With a clear head I’m finally able to address these issues head-on.

How do you look back on the days when you were dependent on drink and drugs?

It’s all part of my story. A lot of songs I wrote wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for my experiences. I just hope that people struggling with themselves and their patterns of behaviour can hear similarities in my songs and realise that you can come back from them.

You also tackle 21st-century gay life and relationships. Where does that stem from?

I grew up in a small town in the Midlands, and didn’t even meet another gay person until I was 18. I felt severely lonely. When I discovered the gay scene in the cities I went to, the rush from getting attention from other men suddenly became the most important thing in my life. I became addicted to it, and because I hadn’t grown up with images of happy gay couples, I convinced myself that casual sex was the best I could hope for. I’m sad to say it’s still a perspective I struggle to shake today. I’ve spent the best part of a decade pushing people away that care about me and chasing guys who don’t.

Are you still looking for someone you ‘Like Like’?

I’m still learning to ‘Like, Like’ myself. I’d love to have a Hollywood romance on paper, but in reality, my insecurities ensure that all relationships are basically dead on arrival.

Photography: Lexy James

If you could write with anyone, who would it be?

The 1975’s Matty Healy. His lyrics are so brutally honest, intelligent and self-aware. I like my pop songs to be life-shattering and achingly personal. Anything less isn’t for me.

What song means the most to you and why?

Robyn’s ‘Dancing On My Own’. It’s the first pop song that really spoke to my social anxiety in clubs — they always made me feel invisible and self-conscious. The only thing I could do was drink until the feelings were numbed.

Photography: Lexy James

What’s next?

I’ve always been a shy, socially anxious person, which has held me back. But now I feel I’m finally ready to fight my fears and to share my story with the world.

Like Like is out now @lostchilduk