As someone who has been a musician my whole life, I know firsthand the struggle, alongside the joy, that come with this line of work. While music is a great channel for expressing emotions and experiences, I think it’s important to have another outlet separate from your art, which for many of us is also a career. For me, this outlet is my yoga practice. There are several reasons why I believe yoga is a perfect antidote to the stress of working in the music industry. Yoga has been a positive journey for me; now, being a yoga instructor inspires me to share the benefits of yoga with others.
I discovered yoga while I was earning my Music degree at Columbia College Chicago. I enrolled in a yoga class as an elective and had no idea how much I would wind up falling in love with it. After that semester, I continued taking yoga at CorePower Yoga and enjoyed how athletic and challenging the classes were. As I kept with my practice, I eventually found an incredible mind-body connection that I soon wanted to share with others. So, toward the end of my college years, I decided to train to be an instructor. Since then, I have been practicing yoga regularly and teaching it for about five years.
One of the main things I treasure about yoga is that it is its own outlet separate from my music. I strongly believe it is important for musicians to maintain a way to relieve stress and express themselves outside of their art. Making music after all is very hard work, but as musicians we never want our line of work to start feeling like a chore or burden. Yoga is definitely a mental space you can enter that is separate from any outside stress. It is about quieting the mind and the constant chatter that can interfere with creativity. During a yoga class, I try to not think about music whatsoever. While artists are encouraged to always seek inspiration and hone their craft, I think that 60+ minutes of just moving and clearing my head are more helpful to my creativity and my overall health in the long run. I see it in myself and the students that leave my classes: a good session lifts a weight off your shoulders and allows you to move and think more fluidly throughout the rest of your day.
Yoga not only encourages mental improvements, but it has obvious physical benefits as well. A healthy body supports a healthy mind and a productive workflow. This includes getting enough sleep, fueling your body with great whole foods, and moving your body every week. As musicians and artists, I feel we sometimes get caught up in the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” mentality. I’ve found that yoga is a reminder that you need to devote time to taking care of yourself and remember that your health truly comes first.
Many of us who work in music tend to forget to set aside the necessary time to check in with ourselves mentally and physically. Sometimes we need a reminder to prioritize our health and seek balance in our art and our careers. I encourage you to explore yoga as a means through which you can exercise that self-care.
About the Author
Nashville Singer/songwriter Chelsea Burns writes from personal experience and connects with people through her authentic music. Midwest raised and fine-tuned in the Windy City, Chelsea Burns brings her refreshingly lovely voice and authentic songwriting technique to the pop genre, illustrating her thoughts and experiences through her songs.
Listeners have always been able to rely on folk music to detail moments in history. Elke Robitaille’s single, “Mercy”, is no exception. The song begins somber, detailing Elke’s frustrations with the world around her, as well as disappointments in herself. Elke doesn’t dwell on negativity though, and moves her lyrics quickly to messages of hope. The song acts as a call to action for people to have more compassion and to use the power they have to make the world a better place.
For Elke, making the world a better place means participating in the March For Our Lives rally in downtown Portland, OR. The accompanying video for “Mercy”, produced by Totem Ent., follows Elke and several friends as they join the protests. Elke’s sign is simple and just reads “Mercy”, matching the song title. The cinematography of the video fits the mood of both the song and the location it was filmed in. Earth tones are prominent and the overcast skies only add to the mood of seriousness Elke successfully gets across with the video. Since March For Our Lives was a movement started in response to a tragedy, it would have been easy for the video to be a vignette of frustration and discouragement. The way Elke and her friends walk, however, is determined and defiant.
This release from Elke is incredibly strong and the quality of the video compliments the production quality of the song itself. Elke is a natural on camera and her passion for her music and the causes she supports is evident.
Watch the video for “Mercy” below and see Elke live at the video release part on July 6th at Alberta Street Pub in Portland, OR from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Review by: Emily Watson
Emily Watson was raised in New England and now lives in Portland, OR. She spends her free time writing indie-pop music and exploring Oregon. You can follow her on Instagram @emjaywat.
Tove Lo, the Swedish pop sensation who first came to the scene with her hit single “Habits,” hasn’t slowed down one bit. Her latest full length album, BLUE LIPS, built on the success of her sophomore Lady Wood, adding to its established and polished pop sound.
Tove’s brash and explicit lyricism continue to be a common trait through all of her releases thus far, and is especially relevant on her latest single from BLUE LIPS, “Bitches.”
With a title such as this, it’s no wonder the lyrics within will contain explicit meanings. The Swedish songstress doesn’t wrap her confident exploits in double-entendres either. The candid topics and lines are bluntly delivered.
“Bitches” details Tove Lo’s fluid sexuality, as she helps her male lover learn the proper way to please a woman. Tove is confident in her teachings, as she speaks from experience in the field.
“I’ve had one or two, even a few,” she sings. “Yeah, more than you.”
Not only are Tove Lo’s lyrical contents confident in their sexuality, but the visuals for her singles take them the extra mile. Her video for the banger “Disco Tits” was especially creative and humorous in its nature, detailing the pop stars one-night-stand with a muppet. The video for “Bitches” is no different, as Tove teams up with fellow pop artists Charli XCX, Icona Pop, Elliphant, and Alma.
The end result is a twisted, humorous, and confident narrative, as the band of females help a couple get through a bit of a rough patch in their relationship. However, instead of a traditional couples therapy, the pop stars help the couple add a bit of spice into the bedroom.
Tove’s bold personality and music make her stand out in the crowded pop field, as the Swedish songwriter breaks the glass ceiling of explicit lyricism with every musical venture. Where men are expected and accepted in talking dirty in their own work, society often finds the same brash statements a bit too much for their female counterparts. Tove Lo won’t accept that.
Not only is “Bitches” an empowering, explicit, juicy pop anthem, but it normalizes sexuality for women, especially those in the LGBT community. For Tove Lo, exploring sexuality and being confident in it’s exploits is an empowering position.
Flaunting this proudly, Tove Lo was the perfect choice to bring to NYC’s Pride Island. Tomorrow, New York City will host Tove Lo, alongside Lizzo, RuPaul winner Sasha Velour, and more to celebrate exactly what the pop star promotes with “Bitches.”
Though the song may seem like a dirty pop adventure on the surface, beneath it and within all of Tove Lo’s music is a deeper purpose. Sexuality is not something women should have to hide. Tove Lo is here to bring it out.
Watch the music video for "Bitches," featuring Charli XCX, Icona Pop, Elliphant, and Alma, below, and catch Tove Lo in New York City at Pride Island tomorrow. More details at www.nycpride.org.
Article by: Brendan Swogger
Brendan Swogger is a music writer and college student in Portland, OR. He is the Creative Director for The Crush blog. You can follow him on IG and Twitter @indiealtpdx.
After over 15 years in the music industry, I have heard my fair share of “sleep-shaming.” That’s when you’re at an event or meeting and mention how tired you are or how little sleep you’ve gotten, to which someone says, “Oh, please! I wish I got that much, I’m only on [insert 1 less number of hours of sleep here]!” I’m sure many of you have heard sleep-shaming, or have even been the sleep-shamer yourself. If you are ever in that situation, I challenge you to say, “I’m sorry to hear that. I hope you’re able to get more sleep tonight.”
The issue with sleep-shaming is that it assumes sleep deprivation somehow proves you want “it” more, whatever “it” is. In reality, though, if you truly want it more, you would advocate for more sleep; you would be bragging instead about all the Z’s you caught last night.
I’ve learned the hard way that pulling all-nighters and living a busy, rather than productive, lifestyle does nothing but put you on the fast track to Burnoutsville. After understanding the ways to work smarter, not harder, I became a mindset coach for music professionals. In addition to time blocking, meditating, and exercising, I emphasize sleep as foundational for success. A main priority in my coaching, therefore, is demonstrating how slowing down is key to building a sustainable career in music.
Think of the Oxygen Mask Principle (the directive they give you on every flight you’re on): when the oxygen masks come down, make sure you place yours on first before assisting anyone else. What if those of us in the music world applied that basic principle to our hectic lives within this competitive industry? Below are three ways you can make sure you’re taken care of in order to be your best for others, and do your best in your career:
#1: Set aside 6-8 hours for sleep
Every day we experience new things, we meet new people, and we have 101 ideas we would like to act on at some point. Our minds simply need to rest in order to digest it all.
6-8 hours of sleep every night allows not only our bodies to regenerate cells, break down nutrients, and repair damages, but also our minds to process information and focus more acutely when we’re awake.
Proper sleep is about these significant health benefits as it is about our creativity and even our immediate safety. Many studies have shown that working on little-to-no sleep has similar effects to working while intoxicated.
This study from the New Zealand Occupational & Environmental Health Research Center found that, “after 17–19 hours without sleep… performance on some tests was equivalent or worse than that at a BAC of 0.05%. Response speeds were up to 50% slower for some tests and accuracy measures were significantly poorer than at this level of alcohol. After longer periods without sleep, performance reached levels equivalent to…BAC of 0.1%.”
The BAC legal limit in most states is .08%. So if you’ve ever been in the studio all night and then driven home you are literally putting yourself and anyone else on the road in danger. If you pull an all-nighter and then perform on stage that night, you may as well be performing drunk.
Sleep is necessary for surviving life on the road, for carrying out tasks that matter to the growth of your career, and for maximizing the creativity and focus that fuel your success.
#2: Turn off devices before bed or keep them in a separate room
It’s far too common to be on your computer or tablet before and throughout bedtime. It’s also common to leave the TV on or keep your phone by your bed as your alarm clock. As music professionals in particular, there is a pressure to work until the point of passing out and to keep these devices readily available at all times.
Working in this way is problematic firstly in that it promotes sloppy output that likely will need to be redone. The bigger picture of these electronic habits is that the blue light emitted by your devices greatly disrupts one’s sleep rhythm and internal clock.
The National Sleep Foundation strongly urges people to shut off all devices before turning in for the night. They explain, “Using TVs, tablets, smartphones, laptops, or other electronic devices before bed… suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and makes it more difficult to fall asleep.”
Many of us in this industry feel like insomniacs. While it may be a hard habit to break, shutting off your devices is better for you and your work in the long run.
If you’re someone, like me, who “needs” the TV on or likes to read from a tablet before bed, remember to fix your settings in order to reduce the blue light that is emitted (many devices now have a “night time” setting for this very reason). You can also purchase yellow glasses that will block out the blue light when looking at the screens of your devices.
Ideally, avoiding the screens and the never-ending stimulation of social media at nighttime will ensure a better night’s sleep and, in turn, an easier time getting up in the morning and focusing on the tasks at hand.
#3: Look at your plan before you turn in and after you wake up
After you’ve turned off your devices for the evening, take a look at your calendar, task list, or wherever you might keep your plan for each day. Decide before you fall asleep what 1-3 tasks you will focus on the next day. When you wake up, before you turn your devices back on, look at that list again to remind yourself of these goals.
While 1-3 tasks may feel like a light load, keep in mind: life happens. That is why I suggest avoiding what I call “The Purse Curse”--filling every hour of your day with something much like you would fill a large bag to the brim.
Give yourself room to actually accomplish something. Rather than 10 tasks getting pushed back due to traffic, you’ll want to build in buffer time for those things. Having expected the unexpected, you can still accomplish what you set out to do. Taking these measures to stay motivated and productive are priceless as they contribute to an overall positive mindset.
Slow and steady...
Succeeding in the music industry is by no means easy, which is exactly why you should do what you can to ensure you are up for the challenge. Think long-term by taking small, focused action in the short-term.
As someone who was used to burning the candle on all ends, I know that a change in lifestyle takes considerable time and discipline. New habits do not happen overnight; they are developed through concerted efforts to replace detrimental behavior with healthier routines. With this determination to avoid burnout, know that you are capable of making real progress towards your goals.
In January of this year, multi-national and award-winning folk singer-songwriter Raye Zaragoza released a powerful video for her single “American Dream,” off of her Fight For You EP. Her new song, “American Dream,” was inspired by the destruction caused by Donald Trump’s recent election, the huge lack of mainstream media for Standing Rock, and the struggles Zaragoza faced while growing up.
Zaragoza’s EP shows her compassion and dedication to justice and equality for all. Raye says, “This album is about finding yourself and finding your voice. It’s about maturing and realizing that you can make a difference if you so choose.”
In a recent interview with Guitar Girl Mag, Zaragoza said that “‘American Dream’ tells the story of my family and challenges the outdated concept of the American Dream with its white picket fence and house in the suburbs, because it’s never been truly inclusive of all American people.”
Zaragoza’s American Dream focuses on moving away from the hatred the Trump administration has fed our country and taking a stand against the injustice.
“Change is a choice, and it can start with me,” she sings in the song’s chorus. This is Zaragoza’s American Dream. One that includes her in the narrative, and gives a voice to those willing to make that change and stand up to the hatred.
The video is just as moving as the song itself, with imagery that shines a light on all that has been going on in America. It makes you stop for a minute and think about all of the hatred, violence, and social injustice happening in our country right now. All of the bad things happening around us are not permanent, but they can’t change unless we help make the change. Zaragoza’s song inspires and encourages those who listen to go out a#nd make a difference in their own communities.
This summer Raye Zaragoza will be on tour with Dispatch. Find dates and more information at www.rayezmusic.com.
Written by: Mariah Bounds
Edited by: Brendan Swogger
Mariah Bounds is the chapter leader for #WomenCrush NOLA. Some of her favorite things to do are dance, photography, exploring Nola, trying new foods, and going out to shows.
We sat down with industry professional, Molly Hudelson, to discuss working in the music industry while struggling with mental illness.
Molly Hudelson, a writer, photographer, and industry professional, has always loved music. Fascinated by music magazine interviews and record reviews from a young age, it’s no wonder her path led to a full-time career in the music industry. Molly originally attended college for pre-med, but then switched gears after beginning to book shows with her school’s program board. At this time, she had also enrolled in a class “History of Rock and Roll,” where she discovered how much she loved writing about music. This sparked her aspiration to write for a big magazine, so she decided to start by creating her own blog. Right after graduating, Molly worked on a few tours, and picked up several freelancing gigs taking photos and writing. Now, Molly works for HIP Video Promo, a music video promotion company, and as a writer/photographer for Substream. Like so many in the industry do, Molly chased her passion, mixing and matching different freelance jobs along the way. Throughout this journey, Molly has struggled with depression and anxiety, which she has learned to manage and now wishes to share her insights on this ongoing battle with others.
Can you tell us about your experience with mental health issues?
I have struggled with depression and anxiety for about 12 or 13 years - since I was 14 or so. When I was in middle school, I never fit in. I never had a lot of friends, and I think that’s why I took a lot of comfort in music. I went off to a private school for high school and started struggling a lot. I wasn’t sleeping, my appetite was all over the place, I was crying for no reason - I just felt sad. I started cutting myself because I didn’t have words to express how I was feeling. I started seeing a therapist who then referred me to a psychiatrist, and I remember being in the psychiatrist’s office, freaking out in cold sweats, feeling like I couldn’t breathe. The psychiatrist asked, “Have you ever had a panic attack?” and in my mind I thought “I think I’m having one right now,” but I didn’t know what it was. So, I ended up taking some medication for depression throughout most of highschool and it helped, but I definitely got to the point toward the end of high school where I was feeling stable, for the most part. I think it’s a myth with mental health that it’s a one and done kind of thing. Most people unfortunately are going to struggle with it for the rest of their lives to some degree. But I was feeling pretty stable and went off medication, and I felt like myself again.
The first couple of years of college, I struggled with depression a lot - I had knee surgery freshman year which made things hard. The summer after junior year, a friend of mine and I were driving to a show, and while I was driving I had an awful panic attack. It got to the point that I had to pull over to the shoulder to stop, and told my friend that he had to drive the rest of the way. The next day I made an appointment with a psychiatrist who prescribed me some medication for anxiety. So that definitely helped get it under control to some degree.
After college I went on tour, which can definitely bring up its own challenges, but I was living out a huge goal of mine. Once I came back, I struggled for several years after that. A lot of my concerns were largely focused on finding a job instead of what was going on in my own head. But then, I went back to struggling. I came back from a trip visiting my friend and I couldn't sleep. I would go to the gym and have meltdowns. It took me almost three days to reach out to my best friend and tell her I was having a hard time and didn’t know what to do. I realized it was taking me so long, and that it was so hard for me to say anything to someone who I talk to everyday. That was a wake up call for me. But I started seeing a therapist again which was a tricky process with insurance, and that’s been helping.
You’ve mentioned this a bit already, but what to you do today to help cope with your depression and anxiety?
Therapy has helped, and medication has helped me in the past, though I’m not currently taking anything. For me, eating right helps a lot. I am vegan, but oreos and french fries are vegan! It’s not to say I don’t eat that stuff, but if I’m making sure I’m getting enough vegetables and eating protein, not just carbs, eating a balanced diet helps a lot. I even realized recently that there are days where I’ve been so stressed that I forget to eat, or forget to eat real food. Exercising has helped a lot too. In college I started getting really into running, which was the best thing I ever did for my mental health. I was on the swim team in highschool and that helped a lot too. But running was huge. For me, the feeling of accomplishment and runner’s high, which I’ve never felt with any other kind of exercise. My problem the past few years is that I’ve had a few surgeries on both my knees, so running is out now. I have a gym membership, so I’ve been going there sometimes to do some cardio, and occasionally weights. Sometimes I will do pilates videos at home, which I really like because that focuses a lot on breathing. And if it’s nice out, I’ll go for a walk outside. Having my go-to comfort songs that I know will help me calm down also helps. Same with watching TV or a movie that’s really familiar. That and making and effort to talk with friends makes a huge difference.
Has being a part of a music community helped with feeling like you have people you can go to?
Most of my close friends are people that I know through music or being on tour. In that sense, the people that I turn to when I’m having a bad day are people that I know because of music, so I’ve gained something valuable through that. I think the sense that this is something I’ve wanted to do for so long, and finally making a living doing it, brings a deep feeling of satisfaction with that. As a writer as well, having the opportunity to write some pieces for large audiences is terrifying but a big weight off of your chest. It has also made me realize that people don’t just care about the stuff I write because of what artist I’m writing about. They care because of how I write it.
Has dealing with mental health issues ever negatively impacted your experience working in the music industry?
For starters, a lot of people who make their living in the music industry aren’t full time employees, or don’t have insurance through work. A lot of people who are struggling might know they should go talk to someone or wonder if they should be taking medication, but they don’t have the means to get the necessary treatment. I think that’s a very real problem for a lot of people.
You mentioned tour brought up challenges, what was that like?
Yes, going on tour can definitely be challenging. No matter what you’re doing on tour (and everyone on tour will claim they have the hardest job on tour), it’s hard. You’re in a constantly changing environment, probably not getting a solid 8 hours of sleep, probably not eating three healthy meals per day. You’re probably drinking too much caffeine, you’re not seeing your loved ones often. It’s a lot harder to do the things you need to do to take care of yourself on tour, and that makes it a problem for people. Which is why when I’ve been on tour, I’ve made it an effort to text people, try to eat decently when I can.
In terms of working in music in general aside from touring, I think mental health has been a challenge as it would be to some degree in any field. But especially since I balance a full-time job and other side gigs, it’s often trying to find a balance of self-care and trying to do what I need to do to take care of myself, while also doing what I want to do to advance professionally.
How do you think the music industry is addressing the topic of self-care and mental health?
I think it’s definitely getting better, I think it’s made a lot of progress since 7 years ago when I was just getting my feet wet, and that’s really important and something we should acknowledge. A big issue is that many people in the music industry experience burnout. I think people who want to work in music are generally very passionate about music, where in other fields that may not be the case. I think largely because of that, it’s kind of created this culture (which probably exists in any field, but is especially noticeable in music) where, because you WANT this job, employers will ask a lot out of you. It’s very much a culture of “You should be working and available and accessible at all times.” But even on top of that, I think there is a pressure we all feel that we should be doing something to advance our career at all times. It’s important to eat right, take the time to meal prep, getting enough sleep, exercising. People are starting to realize this importance, but I don’t know in the music industry if employers have caught on to this as well, in terms of what they expect from people.
You went to school originally to study pre-med and psychology. How has your background in psychology informed your approach to dealing with mental illness in yourself and with others?
In terms of dealing with myself, it has to some degree helped articulate what I’m feeling in that I am able to realize that when I am not sleeping, not motivated, when I’m randomly crying, I am probably depressed. I am able to put those things together. I interned in the office of a crisis hotline as well, so I went through some of the training for that. I learned from that that when people are struggling, when someone turns to you and they’re having a hard time, sometimes they want advice and sometimes they need advice. But sometimes, people just need someone to listen. Active listening is what they call it - learning to piece together what someone's saying and say “Wow that sounds really hard, I understand why you’re feeling XYZ.” Just being a listening ear, being supportive, and reassuring people that they are not crazy, they’re not stupid, they’re not a burden for opening up. That’s a big thing I got out of that.
What advice do you have for someone who may be struggling but doesn’t know what to do?
I would recommend everyone try to figure out health coverage now. If you are not able to get it through your employer or your parent’s employer, you can buy your own insurance. Depending on your income level, the Affordable Care Act will work with you to find a price point that works. As a disclaimer, it doesn't always work out in your favor and sometimes the prices - even accounting for income and tax credits - are still too much for some people (especially if you have any pre-existing conditions). It's absolutely not a 100% perfect resource, but it is certainly an option to look into.
And I would also say: remember you don’t have to be at your absolute lowest point to reach out. And from the other side, even if you don’t think someone is having a hard time, check in with them. Ask your friends how they’re doing and pay attention to how they respond. But if you’re struggling, reach out to someone you trust, tell them what’s on your mind, and be honest if you don’t know what to do. If you think you’re having some problems with mental health, look for mental health providers through your insurance website. Or call them up and let them know what you’re looking for in your area. But I think even before you reach out to your insurance or make an appointment, lots of times reaching out to a trusted friend or family member can be a great first step.
What advice do you have for someone who doesn’t understand what it is like to struggle with mental health issues but has a friend or coworker who does, and wants to be there for them?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately of what it means to be there for people. I think it comes down to two things. Number one: checking in with people--making it a point to reach out to friends not only when you know they’re having a bad day, but also just so they know you’re thinking of them. I think if you want to be there for someone and you don’t really know how, I think a big thing is asking people what’s going on. You don’t have to know what it’s like when someone shares what they’re going through, but sometimes just saying, “That sounds so hard” or “I’m so sorry but we can get through this together” helps. You can even ask people, “Do you want advice right now or do you just want me to listen?” That is huge because sometimes people don’t want advice, and you don’t want to give unsolicited advice.
The second is educating yourself on mental illnesses and what they look like, as well as the warning signs of suicide. There are plenty of resources from organizations like American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, MusiCares, and To Write Love On Her Arms, that will help educate you on the signs and symptoms of suicide. Researching things like that and learning more about the illnesses to give yourself a better understanding can be really helpful.
Interview By: Katie Zaccardi
Note: The contents of this article relate the experiences of the interviewee for informational purposes and should not substitute for professional psychological advice. Always consult a qualified mental health provider with any questions you have regarding a medical disorder.
I was first diagnosed with an anxiety disorder two years ago, shortly after I returned from a semester studying abroad in Paris. While I was away, there were plenty of times I would spontaneously feel dizzy, shaky, and short of breath. My uneasiness would even lead me to lash out in anger. In these moments, I knew I was not like myself, but their unpredictable and consuming nature rendered me incapable of recognizing how the symptoms formed a bigger picture.
When I got back to New York, my best friend was celebrating her 21st birthday. I felt inexplicably on edge about going out, but tried to shake the sensation as I hopped in the shower. Immediately, those symptoms of dizziness, shakiness, faintness, and shortness of breath that I experienced abroad reared their faces again. The intensity of it all made me realize: I was in the midst of a panic attack. I knew at that point that going to a party was not a good decision for me, so instead I spent my evening researching panic attacks and anxiety while I drank water and snacked on Swedish fish in bed.
When my heart rate was not subsiding after three days of trying to relax as best I could, I saw my doctor who was able to confirm that I have an anxiety disorder. Giving the beast a name was an incredible, but daunting, turning point. In an instance, so much of the mystery was gone. The anxiety was still there, but my awareness put me in control. This knowledge, however, is never the solution to the problem. It is simply square one, where you must find the courage to battle onward.
Once you have received a diagnosis, the anxiety becomes more concrete, and managing it becomes a system of regular habits. Because of my diagnosis, I could pay better attention to my triggers and symptoms as well as my tactics for combating and preventing them. I could even open up to my loved ones about my struggle. At first when opening up, others’ responses like “just relax, try staying calm, it’s fine” were discouraging and isolating. I can recall an instance when I confided in my bandmates at rehearsal that I was having a bad anxiety day, but pushed through practicing. That evening over text, my band mate advised me not to use anxiety as an excuse because “we all have bad days.”
These kinds of exchanges, though less frequent now that I can better articulate my struggles, are often unavoidable when opening up about mental health issues. It’s impossible to know exactly what someone else is going through, and can be hard to know what to say when they’re confiding in you. This can cause blocks in the conversation, resulting in both parties feeling unheard. Anxiety is a bumpy road ridden with bad days along with good, with moments of major doubt along with hope. Sometimes it really is difficult just to get out of bed when your anxiety feels like a hundred-pound weight. Sometimes it feels impossible to find the patience for people who reduce your battle to a bad day that you just need to get past.
In my personal experience, I’ve found that continuing with honest conversations, even though it’s hard, allows growth and more understanding. I understand that it is also hard for others to find the right things to say to someone with mental health issues. I face this challenge myself when I speak with another person who lives with anxiety. And when I’m not sure what to say, I practice compassionate listening, finding that our differences only make me more attune to the vast and highly individual character of clinical anxiety. Anxiety largely remains an enigma in society and talking it out isn’t a cure-all. Speaking about it together gets us closer to ending the stigma, but anxiety is still something that needs to be tackled individually.
This is something that can be particularly difficult in the music industry. While I do not get stage fright or social anxiety, these are potentially huge roadblocks for a performer with anxiety. For me, the going out and drinking, which are especially a part of the professional side of the industry, are what can trigger me. Alcohol can agitate my anxiety, so I don’t drink. This stressor is frequently accompanied by social pressure and questioning (“What? Why aren’t you drinking!?”) that only make it worse--it’s frustrating having to explain yourself every time you go out. At the beginning of my journey, declining to attend an event or show, or just refusing a drink, would then also be topped with overwhelming guilt and FOMO. Now, however, I am able to shed that extra insecurity and find the strength to say no, knowing that I am doing what is necessary for my well-being.
In the fast-paced, late-night, competitive music industry, self care is too often neglected. Many of us in the industry work hard—sometimes on multiple jobs—and spend the rest of our time trying to make and maintain connections as well as push our musical projects forward. It is so easy to lose sleep and lose the inner balance which is so important to keep, inevitably leading to burnout. For those who struggle with anxiety or another mental disorder amidst all of this, there is always the risk of your body and mind slipping beneath your many other priorities.
I decide daily that my mental and physical health are the #1 priority. For me, this means a regular yoga and meditation practice that keeps me in tune with what I need inside and out. It also means unapologetically RSVPing “no” when I need time to rejuvenate or handle an anxiety flare-up. Dealing with anxiety is by no means easy, and the music industry’s demanding culture can make it all the more difficult. By being open about my struggle with others and myself, and by making self care a serious but enjoyable habit, I have learned about the courage it takes to conquer obstacles and the patience it takes to reach goals. Both despite and thanks to my anxiety, I am confident in my ability to cope and hopeful in my success in this industry.
Written by: Katie Zaccardi
Edited by: Michelle Costanza
Katie Zaccardi is singer/songwriter based in New York City and has been playing music and writing songs since the age of 8. After recently graduating from NYU’s Music Business program, she now works in Music Publishing and is Head of Marketing and Development // NY Chapter Leader at #WomenCrush Music. Aside from writing, performing, and working in the industry, Katie also practices and teaches yoga in her free time, and enjoys travelling, eating, and binge-watching the latest TV shows. You can follow her on Insta/Twitter at @ktzaccardi.
As an independent musician who also previously held a job as a therapist, I am naturally curious about the way musicians react to the unique hardships we face. Music is a part of us—not just some 9-5 where you’re biding your time until the clock strikes Friday. Emotional connection is the essence of what we do as musicians, making the difficult parts feel more difficult, and the wonderful parts more wonderful. This recipe, along with the copious amount of resilience it takes to become successful in music, makes for one hell of an emotional rollercoaster. We all do it because we love it. But, there are aspects of this profession that make it incredibly draining at times. Here are a few things that have been emotionally challenging for me, as well as some tips to help cope with the impact of whatever downward slope you’re headed towards.
Being rejected over, and over, and over again is just a part of being a musician.
Everyone will tell you to simply “toughen up” and get used to it--and it is true that we become more accustomed to rejection over time, but it is NEVER easy. With every opportunity that presents itself, there is hope. And with every rejection, there is disappointment.
How to cope: That feeling of disappointment is totally normal, but try not to let that negativity get out of hand. Remind yourself that this is one person’s opinion. Even some of the biggest acts in history faced much rejection before they made it big. After performing at The Grand Ole Opry, Elvis Presley was told by the concert hall manager that he was better off returning to his day job as a truck driver. If you’re dealing with a particularly difficult rejection that you can’t seem to shake, take a day off for self care. Don’t do ANYTHING music related. Stay off your email and social media. Hang with a friend, go to the beach, go for a hike, meditate, get your nails done. Then get back on the saddle. If taking a break isn’t nearly enough for you, it may be time to re-evaluate your goals.
2. Social media comparisons.
Social media complicates musicians’ ability to focus on their own paths by instead encouraging comparison to others. Have you ever scrolled through your Instagram feed and thought: “It’s unfair that Jenny’s getting all these great opportunities and I’m not!”. We’ve all experienced jealousy, and even insecurity about our own talents. We see how much other talent there is not just locally but globally, which can be rather overwhelming or discouraging. But when these feelings creep up and turn into anger and bitterness, your emotional wellbeing can become compromised.
How to Cope: Sometimes the solution is just a matter of perspective. Instead of focusing on how unfair things are, ask yourself how this person that you’re envious of became successful. Are there things that this person has done that you can implement into your own career approach? For example, maybe they played in a cover band for two years before finding success as an original artist. Maybe they went on tour as a roadie and made tons of connections before being asked to join a well known touring band. It’s important to consider your path by first thinking about the bigger picture.
If seeing the others’ success is making you feel defeated, limit the time you spend on social media. Take the apps off your phone, and only check them from the computer for as long and as frequently as feels healthy for you. Now you can use that extra time to reading a self help book like “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. Then put your new skills to the test once you re-engage on the web.
3. Unstable Income.
If you’re an independent musician, you likely have multiple forms of income to make ends meet. Not knowing how much money you’re going to make month to month from your gigs, your dog walking business, and your Etsy store can upset even the coolest of cucumbers. You CAN make a great living this way, but making multiple streams of income work is a stressful balancing act. It almost always takes time, a lot of mistakes, and some late payments before you figure it out.
How to Cope: Make budgeting part of your weekly routine. Knowing exactly what is coming in and going out week to week, relieves a significant amount of financial anxiety. Look on Pinterest for budgeting tips and materials to guide you through the process. Do your best to plan and cushion your income so that you don’t fall short on your bills. Your system won’t be perfect especially at first, but at least you’ll know what to expect. If you still find yourself stressed and scrambling every month, it may be time to make changes in terms of how you earn your income.
4. Not having a boss and a set schedule.
As an independent musician, you don’t work by the same firm deadlines that structure more conventional positions. While there are definitely perks to being your own boss, there is the risk of slipping into a lax routine and losing productivity. Losing motivation or falling behind on progress can often lead to a feeling of guilt, as we blame ourselves for slacking on career goals.
How to Cope: Everyone has an organizational and motivational style best suited to their goals and personality. My advice is to find support and get accountability from other independent musicians. Look to Facebook groups, such as the Female Indie Musician Community for accountability partners. Even better, see if there is a local musician meet up in your own community so you can lean on musician friends for support. Then, find routines that work for you by blocking off times during the day for different activities (i.e. rehearsal, booking, etc.). During your least productive part of the day, schedule something enjoyable. For example, mornings are the most difficult for me, so I spend the first of hour of my morning making an awesome breakfast and listening to music.
Some people are social butterflies who thrive in networking environments, but in my case, and for many shy or anxious people like me, this can be intimidating. People who struggle in social situations end up going to these events nervous and worried, which impacts their ability to connect with others. They perhaps don’t go at all, which also inhibits the progress they could make through social engagement.
How to cope: When it comes to facing these fears, it is best to start small. Being at a large gathering can be overwhelming, so setting a small goal like “talk to two people” or “stay for one hour” can make it more manageable. This way, rather than avoiding events altogether, you can push your boundaries and get the satisfaction of achieving a personal (and professional) goal. Do your best to think outside of the networking box. Would you be more comfortable hosting a small musician meet up for locals? Or how about starting a blog where you interview indie artists and other music industry people in your community? For more networking ideas, check out this episode of the Break The Business Podcast. Just like your social media, your income flow and your schedule, networking is something that requires you to figure out a system based on your personal objectives and strengths.
The next time you find yourself with a frustrating #MusicianProblem, know that there are solutions on the other end of your own hard work and self-awareness, with plenty of resources and community support to help you along.
Author’s Note: These are just some suggestions on how to cope on your own with some of the difficult aspects that come along with being a musician. However, you should seek a professional opinion if your life is frequently being impacted by your emotions and the DIY route doesn’t seem to be working.
Guest Post By: Laini of Laini and the Wildfire
Laini and the Wildfire is a New Haven, CT based piano-fronted pop rock trio with lots of sass and a little soul. Their music blends the pop sensibility of artists like Adele and the raw edge of female-fronted rock bands, like Florence + the Machine, inflected with a touch 60s soul. Find more information at www.lainiandthewildfire.com.
Jessa Campbell Premieres The Music Video to “Cedar” at #WomenCrush Music’s “Mamas In Music” Showcase
Portland, OR (05/16/2018) - On Wednesday, May 16, singer/songwriter Jessa Campbell will premiere her music video for “Cedar”, one of three songs off her first EP, Great Grey Owl. The video screening will be part of #WomenCrush Music’s May showcase, “Mamas In Music”, focusing on women who are both parents and performers. The show will take place at The White Eagle Saloon at 836 N Russell St, Portland, OR 97227.
Jessa Campbell is a rising artists based in the Pacific Northwest. Her music celebrates the biodiversity and abundance in nature while touching on deeply personal experiences. “Cedar” is written about the birth of her son and her experience with motherhood. Jessa has made a name for herself by performing with Wayne Newton, winning Resonate Choral Arts of Portland’s “Homemade Jams” contest, and hosting a local series in association with Local Roots. Jessa has been interviewed by Vortex, For the Rabbits, and Twist Online Music Blog. Her EP, Great Grey Owl, is inspired by the music of German composer Hildegard von Bingen. The music video for “Cedar” is produced by Rollstars Productions.
Jessa Campbell will be co-hosting the Mother’s Day-themed #WomenCrush Music showcase Wednesday, May 16, at The White Eagle Saloon. Her performance and video premiere will be accompanied by performances from Zahara Bre, Kina Lyn Muir, Jen Deale, and Amy Bleu. Music begins at 8:00 p.m. at the 21+ venue. For more information on the showcase, you can visit its corresponding Facebook event page. To read further about Jessa Campbell, check out her website http://www.jessacampbellmusic.com/.
Preview by: Emily Watson
Emily Watson was raised in New England and now lives in Portland, OR. She spends her free time writing indie-pop music and exploring Oregon. You can follow her on Instagram @emjaywat. For more information regarding Jessa Campbell's show, contact Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When Tina was diagnosed with breast cancer, Christina wrote a song for her Mother, a song called “Little Girl.” Looking back on how her Mother had comforted her with that same phrase when she was young, Christina used her art to comfort her Mother in her own time of need.
For years, “Little Girl” was kept between Christina and Tina, a private and intimate gift. After Christina’s passing, it took on a new form, and Tina continued to find comfort in her daughter’s own words.
“Little girl, I’m here to stay / don’t run away.”
Today, Tina has decided to share that gift with the world, a gift from her and Christina to mothers and daughters everywhere who may find comfort in those same words.
“It is very special to me and carries a part of not only Christina but our unique bond,” Tina stated. “I miss her daily and I take comfort in knowing that this song might help other mothers and daughters through their fearful or tough times.”
Though Mother’s Day may be joyous for many, it can be a day of grieving for too many others. It is the hope of the Grimmie family that this song will be a light in the darkness others may also face.
“Little girl, open your eyes / the sun will shine after tonight.”
Article by: Brendan Swogger
Brendan Swogger is a music writer and college student in Portland, OR. He is the Creative Director for The Crush blog. You can follow him on IG and Twitter @indiealtpdx.