“I had written quite a few songs before it, and I was waiting for one that would have a lasting sentiment behind it before I released it.”
Folk singer-songwriter Christopher Panousakis, known under the moniker Timberwolf, brings an unrivaled authenticity into his songwriting.
“It was at a time where one of my best friends lost someone in his family… It was a really scary thing. He just kind of disappeared.
“I was noticing how hard it was to be reading people… I started reflecting on my mental health and how in the past I’ve gone through some pretty-” Christopher pauses for a moment “-Yeah, some pretty dark shades of depression or anxiety and come out of it.
“The thing that I was reflecting on is how undetectable it seems to be, and there have been some deaths in the music industry as well and I just feel the same way.”
Christopher’s introspection through his music relays a wider truth, that many are unaware of the battles that even their closest friends are facing.
“I can see a really big disconnect between people saying ‘You need to speak up, it’s good for you’ and how difficult that seems to be to actually find the help.
“I wanted to write a song that would ease the conversation, kind of like an ice-breaker, you know? ‘Have you heard the song?’ It talks about how proud silence is sadness, meaning depression and sadness.
“I was hoping that by talking about the song, it would encourage people to talk… I wrote it before, way before these recent deaths have happened and I think-” he pauses again.
“The music industry can be pretty brutal, and I think it can be really hard to maintain a bit of mental stability when you’re in this bind of ‘I’ve gotta work to make enough money to support my art, because the art doesn’t support itself, but when it works I can’t be creative, and I want it to be creative and for it to work.’
“Then your mental health suffers and you start to go a bit crazy and I think riding that line is pretty tough.”
Christopher doesn’t shy away from confronting these issues at the core of his lyrics: “I think it crystalised in the lyric ‘The more you talk the easier it gets’, ’cause it’s true. It can have a bit of inertia behind it, where you open up once and you realise you didn’t get your head bitten off and the world didn’t fall apart… you’d be much more happy to try again.”
Open and honest in both speech and music, it’s easy to see that Christopher has a way of connecting with people at a deep level. His recent single Proud Silence is art in the classical sense band a testament to his talents producing as well as writing.
The song also has a function – it’s open-ended, but seemingly applicable to more than just Christopher’s own struggles.
“I had this conversation with a good friend of mine and sent him the song and he went ‘Oh! I actually thought that this was about relationships, I was relating how my ex and I were in the kitchen and how we weren’t talking to each other and we were balling up all these things.’
“The theme Proud Silence and sadness is actually much bigger than what I was experiencing in myself or between my friends, and I think it just relates to everyone in terms of suppression.”
Christopher also calls out “masculine toxicity” as a barrier that prevents the kind of openness he champions in his music.
“I like to think that regardless of your gender or how you identify, we have masculine and feminine counter-traits and I think sometimes the masculinity within any of us would guide us to be a bit more suppressed or proud.
“I started to see it in my parents and how they talked to each other, I started to see how I related to my parents and I started to see it in how my friends relate to each other, relate to their own world, how they relate to social media.
“There’s a disconnect with what people are posting, what they’re trying to be and what they actually are, and in a way, it’s another form of ‘proud silence’. So this thing kind of exploded to a bigger, much more universal message than I initially intended.”
Go and check out Proud Silence and make sure that you catch Timberwolf on tour, probably at a venue near you.