Bee Asha Singh on Spit It Out: 'It started off as something that could use all of our creative outlets to deal with our separate traumas'

Bee Asha Singh on Spit It Out: 'It started off as something that could use all of our creative outlets to deal with all of our separate traumas'

Scottish rapper discusses appearing in Léa Luiz de Oliveira's documentary and opening up a dialogue around sexual assault

We need to talk more about sex, according to The Honey Farm rapper Bee Asha Singh. Not just the basics and the how-tos, but the nitty gritty nuances of consent, desire, and learning how to communicate. Singh would know. Three years ago she was raped on holiday in Thailand, and she has been managing its impact ever since.

She's teamed up with film director Léa Luiz de Oliveira and animator Nisan Yetkin to appear in the documentary Spit It Out, which pools their collective talents to open up a dialogue around sexual assault. Using film, poetry, and animation, it documents the therapeutic, and at times uneasy, relationship between recovery and creativity. 'It started off as something that could use all of our creative outlets to deal with all of our separate traumas,' says Singh. 'It is based around me, but it was definitely putting all of our recovery within it.'

The project has grown into a plea for all of us to air our sexual wants and hang-ups and make room for better, more consensual sex. It's about foregoing repression and making space for questions so we can all be better educated about each other's boundaries. 'You should be able to talk not only with your sexual partner, but with your friends, even sometimes with family,' says Luiz de Oliveira. 'It's such a taboo subject, but it's part of our daily lives and it has more consequences that we realise.'

Singh faces a dilemma over the course of the film. Taking antidepressants has helped her manage symptoms like depression and agoraphobia, but she increasingly feels that they are also hampering her creativity. A transcontinental trip isn't part of the original plan, but when Singh feels the pull to her father's childhood home in India, Luiz de Oliveira is right behind with camera in tow. 'It was really scary to have to leave again because last time I was away I was really hurt,' says Singh. 'India's like that middle-ground safe space. So often, when I've had bad experiences, or I'm struggling with something, I'll go there to get the tools I need to come home and feel whole again.'

Bee Asha Singh on Spit It Out: 'It started off as something that could use all of our creative outlets to deal with all of our separate traumas'

More twists and turns shape the story of Singh's recovery, helping her to stop her medication and lean into her art instead. 'I had the camera all the time, and then one night I say I'm going to put it at the hostel,' says Luiz de Oliveira. 'I'd been filming the last four days in Mumbai so I was just wanting to chill, and we arrived and there is an open mic. Bee and I looked at each other like-'

'I'm going to have to do that, right?' Singh chimes in. 'That started a whole new chapter in India of me performing all the time.' Singh was invited to read her spoken word all over Goa, and settled into her lone voice as a means of expressing her trauma. It's a marked departure from her usual high energy raps with The Honey Farm, though sexuality runs as a common theme throughout both. 'It's pulling back our own sexual power,' Singh says of her 'badass bitch' rapper persona. 'When I feel low and I go and do The Honey Farm stuff, I feel amazing when I come offstage. I feel uplifted. Whereas with spoken word, it delves me into a darker place, but that's also a comfortable darkness. Both are just as important for me.'

Speaking out is everything to Singh, both for processing trauma and reclaiming her sexuality. It also keeps her safe, a measure she and Luiz de Oliveira argue is essential to preserving the joy of sex. 'I'm really direct because I have to be,' says Singh. 'If I'm not then something bad might happen to me, and I'm not going to let that happen again. The more open you are, the more comfortable you should be having sex, right?'

'There's a moment in India where Bee met someone,' says Luiz de Oliveira. 'I'm like, how was your date?'

'We had sex and the whole time we were talking,' says Singh.

'I think it's so important,' Luiz de Oliveira continues. 'She says because we were talking, there was consent. It's as simple as that.'

Spit It Out airs on BBC Scotland, Tue 18 Jun, 11pm.

Post a comment