A Penygroes drill artist has opened up about the complexities of modern relationships, as part of the Welsh Government’s award-winning Sound campaign.

Talking to presenter Luke Davies, Eretoda Ogunbanwo (stage name Sage Todz) discusses modern relationships and perceptions of masculinity in 21st century Wales, saying he wants to see conversations on these topics become the norm.

Sound launched in 2023 to encourage young men to take personal and collective responsibility in ending violence against women and girls.

He said: “I got involved with the campaign because instead of telling people to normalise things, it’s best to just be normal about things. If someone sees someone they look up, to talk about a subject, it can feel empowering or enabling to them.”

Sage shines a light on the challenges faced by young men around expressing their emotions, saying “it can be difficult to open up”.

Sage has been influenced by strong male characters in his family, particularly his father Pastor Olufemi Ogunbanwo.

Sage said: “I have good blueprints, my dad is definitely a huge example of a great, great male role model. Discipline. Strength of will. Strength of character. Integrity – be a man of your word, don’t snake around things. He’s instilled those things in me. Be someone other people can rely on as much as you can.”

Alongside the influence of his dad, Sage also believes having a dependable friendship group is key to being able to talk.

He said: “There are potential barriers for men to talk, but if you have a good friendship group that you know you can trust, it omits those barriers.

“It’s important to have a group of people that you can be open with, share your emotions, talk about deeper topics and feel accepted within that.

“It can be difficult to open up because as a young man, I work better with solutions rather than by speaking. If I am speaking about something, I’d rather have a solution rather than just talk about how I feel. I think a lot of young men feel that way and there’s not always a place to go for a practical solution.”

Sage believes young men need a sense of community and purpose to be able to help direct their emotions.

Going to the gym and eating healthy food is an important coping mechanism for Sage’s mental health. But he believes men should try different approaches and see what works for them. 

Sage’s latest single, Gone Seen Blocked (GSB), is about relationships in the modern day and how they can be disposable.

Sage also explores the notion that to reduce problematic behaviours towards women, it is important to surround yourself with the right people and open discussions around appropriate behaviours.

“I surround myself with like-minded people and I think there’s a wider conversation to have with your friends if you don’t morally agree with their views.”

See Sage’s video on our website and follow the Sound channels for advice and information on the topics covered.