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Freddie Lewis pines and pains over being his lovers’ “Prettiest Secret”

28 July 2023, 12:00 | Written by Thomas Turner

Identifying the amalgam of excitement and excruciation at dating people who are DL, 23-year-old Freddie Lewis infuses his charm and honesty into latest cut “Prettiest Secret”

Although liberating, irreverent, and undeniably fun, the LGBTQ+ dating scene can well be a minefield of insecurities, internalised homophobia, and uncertainty. The experience is only amplified for trans folk, who are often not afforded the common decency of honesty and upfrontness given to their cisgendered peers when dating. Freddie Lewis, a Bristol-based singer-songwriter, takes aim at the fetishisation of trans people on his latest cut “Prettiest Secret”.

The track delves into Lewis’ relationships with people who are DL (“down low”), who outwardly present as straight whilst harbouring conflicting feelings. As Lewis describes, they “don’t want to admit their attraction to you publically,” and leave you with a myriad of conflicting emotions to sit with, mainly feeling like a dirty secret.

Accompanied by a lilting synth-pop line that is the sonic translation of an ambient stroll down the street, the track's production buoyantly shades the sarcasm palpable in its lyrics, opening "don't look me in the eye / don't ask about my evening." Layered with two meanings, it could be argued that Lewis is both recounting the behaviours of his usual hook-ups, or telling them not to bother with the niceties that will take up time before the main event, as part of him enjoys being treated like this.

The track’s title “Prettiest Secret” is a similar oxymoronic wink to Lewis’ paradoxical thoughts: both loving, and loathing, the situation as it unfolds. “It’s specifically about sleeping with straight women when I was younger, and I guess about sleeping with straight men now,” he explains, “about being a fetish or a phase, about both loving and hating that, about people being confused by me but deciding not to onboard their confusion and just having fun. There’s a definite underlying sadness for me in this track, its total joy vibe is sort of ironic once you listen to the lyrics / off the back of the second verse. I guess it’s about nuance!”

Nuance is the cornerstone of Lewis’ artistic makeup, in relation to both his mission in the music space, as well as the always candid, and at times conflicting, lyrics he pens. As a transgender person himself, he continually finds power in rewriting the oversimplified and impersonal way in which mainstream society views and records the trans experience.

"Prettiest Secret" is a case in point - whether pained by the actions of his lovers, or pining after the encounters in some sadomasochistic way, Lewis presents himself as wholly human and not just one-sided. In a similar vein, his previous single "She Wouldn’t Believe” was made to simply exist as a song for “trans people to dance to,” counteracting the often dystopian narratives trans people are faced with in the mainstream.

Infusing his witty and personable personality into every sound he turns his hand to, Lewis has come a long way from when he was eight years old singing for his Nan as she played piano. The shuffling production and warmth from which he writes makes all his songs a textural, tangible, and touching experience - like a friend recounting a night out for you, or an older sibling giving you advice and then laughing at how contradictory it was afterwards.

Having already turned heads in the Bristolian music scene, and among queer pop circles, now Lewis’ sights are set much wider. Shortlisted as one of PRS’ Keychange Artists of 2023, a group of up-and-coming European and Canadian talent to watch out for, and already gracing stages at The Great Escape and Glastonbury, Lewis’ trajectory is nothing short of hyperbolic.

"Prettiest Secret" is out now. Find Freddie Lewis on Instagram.

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