Mitchell Jay's solo debut 'I Don't Know' leans into healing, catharsis

Mitchell Jay's solo debut 'I Don't Know' leans into healing, catharsis

  • While known for The Weekend Run Club's upbeat pop-rock hits, Lisle's Mitchell Jay heads in a more personal, emotional direction with his solo debut "I Don't Know."

    While known for The Weekend Run Club's upbeat pop-rock hits, Lisle's Mitchell Jay heads in a more personal, emotional direction with his solo debut "I Don't Know." Courtesy of Mitchell Jay

 
 
Posted11/19/2020 6:00 AM

With his new solo single, "I Don't Know," Lisle's Mitchell Jay revisits a time in his life that still brings him great pain.

In fragile, emotional vocals drifting across the song's moving melody, Mitchell -- the lead singer of Chicago alt-indie band The Weekend Run Club -- hopes that telling his story gives him and others the strength to start healing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It comes from a very authentic place. It comes from a very personal place," he said. "I really wanted to write a song that people wouldn't be able to just discount."

Adolescence can be a difficult time, with shifting alliances and a never-ending chase to adhere to social norms leaving many without solid ground to stand on. For Mitchell, the tightrope walk of being gay while growing up in a religious school was a struggle. Even more so when he came out to his community and faced rejection from many while a junior in high school.

"There's a lot of anger in there," he said, "but there's confusion and rejection and feeling alienated. My whole community, I felt like they kind of turned on me. I had some very traumatic instances personally with teachers or priests just telling me that there was something wrong with me, which is very alienating to feel like as a kid."

"When you're an adolescent, it's already a confusing time. And it's very easy to blame yourself for things. And I think a lot of what I felt is, 'This isn't something I can control, and there's something wrong with me,'" Mitchell said. He struggled with self-harm, anxiety, depression and spent time in the hospital because of it.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Last weekend's release, nearly eight years after his first stay at the hospital, also features a video -- shot by Weekend Run Club bandmate Joey Resko and Kanguru Studios -- in which Mitchell plays piano and sings, isolated in an empty church. He brings up a box filled with memories of that time and examines each one.

"It's like I'm taking up the gifts and I'm saying, 'OK, this isn't on me anymore. This is a time in my life. It was really hard, but it's not my fault.' I really want people to know it's not anyone's fault."

It's his time to heal.

"In some aspects, it's like I wrote the song for me as a 16-year-old, but also for every other out or queer person, anybody that felt hurt. ... Anybody who feels marginalized in any community," he said. "The song is kind of my way to say I'm done with this. ... I'm giving it back and I'm saying, 'It's time for you guys to take a look at this because people are still hurting themselves. Some people are still afraid to be who they are.' I think that if people could see how much their words or teachings really affect people, then maybe they'll be more receptive. Maybe they could be a little different or more sensitive about it."

Through his music and through his band, Mitchell said he has found a community of support. But he also felt like "I Don't Know" was a song he needed to tackle personally.

"I could scream from the top of my lungs about this topic, but I want this message to be heard by everybody," he explained. "As much as I'd like to come out swinging, I think the most effective way for me to talk about this is to say, 'This was my experience, and what kind of questions do you have about it?' You know, I want to have a conversation about it. ... As spiteful as I still am, I think there's room for more than just anger. There's room in my heart to talk to people and ask how can we be more loving?"

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.