Joshua Bassett is using music to heal emotional wounds and process unresolved trauma from his past.
On Friday, the Disney+ actor and singer unveiled a new EP containing three songs, each of which is indicative of the personal reevaluation he says he’s undergone over the past year. In an interview with GQ to mark the EP’s release, he explained that the track “Set Me Free” partly addresses the sexual abuse he suffered as a teen.
“I experienced sexual abuse a lot in my childhood,” Bassett told the publication. “I didn’t remember that until last year, which is pretty insane. I buried it so far.”
The 20-year-old said the abuse took place “routinely” during his teenage years. He did not identify the abuser, describing him only as “a much older man.”
“I wasn’t able to see it for what it was at the time,” he added before describing “Set Me Free” as “an anthem for me and the sort of people who’ve held pain and power over me my whole life.”
Bassett said he is planning to explore this area of his life further in a forthcoming podcast that will “hopefully help people who are experiencing that.” Though he was light on specifics, he said the project will be “the podcast that I wish I had when I was a kid.”
Catch the music video for “Set Me Free” below.
Similarly, proceeds from the sales of a second single from the EP, “Crisis,” will benefit mental health organizations.
Bassett’s private life has been the subject of public scrutiny this year following the release of his “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” co-star Olivia Rodrigo’s breakout single, “Drivers License,” in January.
Fans and media outlets interpreted the song ― as well as other tracks on Rodrigo’s Grammy-nominated debut album, “Sour” ― as an ode to a real-life, behind-the-scenes romance between her and Bassett, and their subsequent breakup.
Bassett, who has also been romantically linked to actor Sabrina Carpenter, set off a media frenzy in May when he described Harry Styles as “hot” in an on-camera interview with Clevver News. He then described the interview as a “coming out video.”
Speaking to GQ about a month later, Bassett stressed that he stood “behind every word that I said” and confirmed that he’s “part of the LGBTQ+ community.”
In his latest GQ profile, the Oceanside, California, native said he hadn’t spoken to Rodrigo since the release of “Drivers License,” but suggested that the perceived relationship drama that the song described was “not as recent as it seems.”
Elsewhere in the interview, he said he was “so much stronger than I was before” and was going to extra lengths to keep his personal life private. “I feel like a lot of this last year people haven’t seen me as a human being,” he said.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.