‘It’s a monologue for reclaiming the voice’: Sonia Serin’s new track Dust Settles shines a light on the shadows of sexual violence

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‘It’s a monologue for reclaiming the voice’: Sonia Serin’s new track Dust Settles shines a light on the shadows of sexual violence

sonia serin
Words by Juliette Salom

Melbourne-based musician Sonia Serin is about to release her new song Dust Settles, a triumphant exploration of the impacts of sexual assault.

“I’d always wanted to write a song about this subject matter [but] for a long time, I didn’t have the courage to,” Sonia Serin says about her new track Dust Settles, to be released on June 6 in collaboration with producer and friend Robi Parolin. 

A hauntingly beautiful exploration of the traumas of sexual violence, Sonia initially wrote the song two years ago in the middle of Melbourne lockdowns, when a particular event in the news media caught much of the nation’s attention.

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“There was a massive news story that was looking at someone who had gone through sexual assault,” she says. “I really felt for the victim-survivor as there was a real lack in courtesy and respect for her privacy by the media. It’s very sad [that]what remains in our community is a lack of maturity and awareness of an appropriate response. And a discomfort in people arises as they are reluctant to have honest conversations about it which further perpetuates the issue in our society and delays the healing process.”

It’s disturbingly fitting that the media story that served as the catalyst of the song has only recently wrapped up its cycle in the news after particular court events, but, of course, the cycle of events will never be so neatly wrapped up within that person’s life. It’s this aftermath, this collateral of emotional pain and healing, that Dust Settles ventures to explore.

In a song that is both as personal as it is universal in its grappling with the taboo around sexual assault and victim-survivors, Sonia has taken her observations of how these dialogues operate to bring these conversations out of the shadows and into the light. 

“Are we mature enough yet to have a dialogue about [sexual assault] without it being too uncomfortable for people?” Sonia reflects. The answer may lay somewhere in her own exploration through music. For the drummer, guitarist, pianist and singer-songwriter, making Dust Settles was a way to dig deep through artistic expression among the dust and rubble of the aftermath of sexual violence. “It’s a monologue for reclaiming the voice,” she says.

It’s this dichotomy of light and dark, hope and struggle, that is most prevalent throughout the track. While the subject matter is one borne of pain, there’s no denying the strong vein of courage running through the heart of the song. “The music arrangement is rageful at moments,” she emphasises, “as well as having rawness and vulnerability.”

You can hear it in Sonia’s voice, straining with emotion, and you can hear it in the propulsive drumbeat that intertwines with the vocals. “I hope the music can adequately reflect the emotions of someone going through this difficult journey,” she says.

“It’s really more about looking at the complexity or the layers of the emotional trajectory of what one experiences having gone through sexual assault, and also looking closely at how [it’s] responded to by the wider community,” It’s a nuanced issue that requires nuanced discussion and consideration, both of which rise to the surface on Dust Settles.

Sonia worked closely on this track in collaboration with her dear friend and producer Robi Palorin. “There was a lot of me handing it over and trusting the process as I find so hard to do as I’m a massive perfectionist in the areas of creativity, as is Robi, and we went through a whole range of emotions,” she says. “But we never abandoned each other or the song which makes our friendship and this project all the more precious to me.”

The song is set to be released on June 6 with a show to celebrate the track on June 9 at Bar 303

“I feel empowered,” Sonia says about the upcoming release, “and very petrified.” While discussions around sexual assault and victim-survivors in our culture seem to be growing in numbers and complexity, Sonia understands that it’s still a topic that some would prefer to keep in the shadows.

But for her, it’s a topic too significant to ignore. “I’ve done the absolute best that I can with it and it’s an important story to tell,” she says. “Whether you have told your story or [are] in a position that you cannot, you matter and are seen and heard.”

For more information and to grab tickets to see Sonia Serin at Dust Settles release show on June 9, head here.

This article was made in partnership with Sonia Serin.