‘Please Don’t Go’ Singer on Mental Health, Songwriting


Wyatt Flores can pinpoint the exact moment he says the party ended in country music. After a decade-plus of tailgating, beer-drinking songs clogging up playlists, the pandemic struck and forced artists and fans alike indoors with their thoughts. And shit got real, fast.

“They got trapped inside of wherever they were and they had a lot of time to sit down and think, and that flustered up their minds,” Flores says. “People felt emotions that they hadn’t felt before.”

Emotional songwriting just happened to be Flores’ bread and butter. A 22-year-old Oklahoman who often sings about subjects like addiction and suicide, he quickly found an audience for the songs he was posting on TikTok, rich in substance and naked in vulnerability. “Please Don’t Go,” a desperate plea to a loved one to not take their own life, exploded, and Flores became a sounding board for listeners’ own personal stories of isolation and tragedy.

Growing up in Stillwater, Oklahoma — the epicenter of the Red Dirt music movement but also a region where football is religion — Flores stood out from an early age. “I’ve never fit in because I shared my feelings,” he says. “I was different.” His self-deprecating song “Wildcat” is about his role on the field not as a “macho man” player but as his school’s feline mascot. “Kids just call you a pussy for sharing how you feel, and I just finally got tired of it. I was like ‘I’m gonna embrace it.’”

Now Flores is at the forefront of a movement in country music, alongside emo-country kingpins like Zach Bryan and Charles Wesley Godwin, where emotional lyrics sung over acoustic guitars are packing more of a punch than bro-branded whiskey. At Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium last December, Flores opened for Godwin and had fans’ rapt attention when he spoke candidly about his own battles with anxiety. He also covered the Fray’s 2006 suicide prevention anthem “How to Save a Life” and released it as a single a few weeks later.

“If I don’t talk about it with the crowd, and I don’t share my feelings, how can I expect them to share theirs with someone else?” he says. “I’m trying to lead by example best I can.”

Suicide awareness is at the core of Flores’ message. His maternal grandfather took his own life last August, and he’s struggled with the fallout. “It was always kind of a hard relationship that I had with him,” he says. “I never thought mental health would be one thing that we had in common.” He finds performing especially challenging when his mother and grandmother are in the audience.

(In February, Flores canceled a string of concerts, citing the demands of nonstop touring. “Take care of yourself before you take care of others,” he wrote when he shared the news with fans on Instagram.)

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At a recent show, he debuted a powerful new song called “Devil.” “It talks about me not wanting to kill myself,” Flores says. “It frustrates me because my mom was there. I don’t know…some of this shit haunts me.”

Still, Flores won’t quit baring his soul onstage, even if some fans don’t want to hear it. “There’s certain folks that don’t want to talk about it, because they’re not going through it, and that’s fine. But there’s always someone, every single night, that reaches out and says that it’s given them a new perspective and it’s helped keep them on this earth,” he says. “It’s very valuable to me, because whether my career ends in six months or if it lasts for the next 50 years, I’ve done something past get people drunk.”



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