Express Yourself

An important message from Gemma Cairney

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Gemma Cairney
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Are you ready to express yourself?

Dear eyes and minds reading this right now,

I approached Stylist with the idea of celebrating the f*** it.. ‘Let’s DO THIS’ feeling I have surging inside me a whole lot.

Nod now if you agree: we live in sometimes overwhelming times (are you nodding?). And yet… at the same time I see, hear, wear and experience things and know people that make me excited regularly and I think it has something to do with feeling the freedom to express myself in ways I see fit. I live to express myself and be part of a chain of others doing the same. For me, it might just be wearing a hat or actually phoning your friend rather than WhatsApping them, or producing a piece of theatre with the production company called Boom Shakalaka that I run with my best friend. It’s listening to a curated playlist of something completely wicked and new, or finding a dynamite radio show being broadcast independently, or a jaw-dropping podcast. It is being true to yourself, whenever and wherever you can.

I think the importance of learning how to ‘express yourself’ in amongst what can be a cloudy and bombarding environment of projected ‘ideals’ put upon us by our algorithms – trying to sell us stuff ALL THE TIME. Don’t get me wrong, I like things, but I want to be me and not feel like I have to look like anyone else or do things a particular way because that’s what’s expected. I also love to learn from all sorts of other people and find out how they choose to express themselves.

It’s probably why I’m, among the many things I do, known mostly for being a broadcaster. The two projects I have on the radio at the moment, are examples of how I choose to interrogate expression. There’s The Leisure Society on BBC Radio 6 Music, a podcast series which sees me interview icons and cultural shapers in the arts world, from R.E.M’s Michael Stipe to Tracy Emin, about their past times in hobbies. And there’s also The Sound Odyssey, a series that’s currently going out on BBC Radio 4 where I’ve taken different British musicians around the world to collaborate with local musicians from the specific areas we visit. This includes Mercury-nominated Nadine Shah in Beirut and actor / folk artist Johnny Flynn in Colombia. Feel free to delve right in and have a listen for yourself.

But right now… right now… enjoy the labyrinth of fun and thought created under the Express Yourself channel by myself and the Stylist team. We’ve grappled with different stories and discussed different ways to make a home in a piece about alternative living spaces, thought more about the expression of body hair, considered the simple joy of being naked, and so much more.


Thank you Stylist for getting this party started and all of the contributors.


For one day only on Thursday 20 September, Gemma Cairney has taken over and transformed it into her very own Express Yourself platform – a digital initiative which aims to inspire us, challenge us and encourage us to explore our creative sides.

For similarly inspiring content, check out Stylist’s September Shake Up initiative here.

Image: Babe Studio