During this Mental Health Awareness Week, mental health charity Mind has collaborated with Ninja Tune, Paradigm, Percolate and POLY to launch resources for helping to support the mental health of people working in the electronic music industry.
A series of four guides containing useful information on coping with the pressures and challenges of the music industry have been released. The tailored guides are for organisations; artist managers; employees; and freelancers.
The necessity of this project is underlined by Mind noting: “Research has shown that people working in the music industry are more prone to mental health problems than the general population, with musicians being up to three times more likely to suffer from depression.”
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Mind is also set to launched a Music Industry Podcast towards the end of June, featuring guests working across the industry sharing their personal views, experiences and offer tips on taking care of your mental health.
Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, says: “We know that working in the music industry can be very rewarding and offers many opportunities. However, it comes with a unique set of challenges, including irregular hours, financial insecurity and high pressure – all of which may have an effect on people’s mental health and wellbeing. Coronavirus restrictions, Brexit, and fluctuating income have only made existing problems in the industry worse, so it’s important that people across the industry can access vital support if and when needed.”
“For too long mental health problems and other related issues like alcohol and substance use within the music industry have been neglected and even normalised. Mind’s new resource has been created with contributors from every corner of the music business to make sure the information is as useful and relevant as possible to anyone working within the industry, including artists, DJs, organisers, promoters, creative freelancers and other employees. We’re grateful for their support and dedication in helping to make sure no one across the industry faces a mental health problem alone.”
Kyra Santiago of Ninja Tune says: “No two days are ever the same in the music industry. With such a huge diversity of roles, responsibilities and relationships, everyone’s wellbeing can be affected in so many different ways. This last year has definitely been a challenge to say the least, and we know we’re not alone in saying that. As a label, we had to quickly adapt our ways of working when the pandemic hit. We’re incredibly grateful to Mind, our partners and everyone who has contributed to the creation of these guides to make them happen and we hope that they provide support to anyone and everyone who needs it.”
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We also spoke to four artists, who shared their own tips and de-stressing playlists. Check them out below.
To me, there's a lot of pressure to deliver "content" at a high output. So I am always second-guessing my true instinctual music choices and get anxious about whether my fans, label, or even friends will like it!
I cope by trying to meditate daily, but also just spend a couple of days a month writing music for fun. With no intention of it being released. That eliminates the element of judgement from the creative process for me.
My recommended album listening to de-stress is Jon Hopkins' 'Piano Versions'.
I struggle with my mental health but things like taking walks, eating healthily, going to the gym and not drinking too much alcohol can help. Making sure that I’m getting plenty of sleep too, as a lack of sleep can make things much worse. I also use a mindfulness app called Headspace.
One of the most important things for me though is taking the time to do fun things and spending time with friends.
My recommended album to listen to for de-stressing is Bonobo's 'Late Night Tales'.
Chris Davids of Maribou State
I’m forever grateful for our position in the music industry, but it’s definitely not been devoid of any mental health struggles along the way. I think it’s particularly easy to become all-consumed by your work in music as it’s something you love doing, but for me personally this has led to burn out on a couple of occasions through working long hours in the studio, gigs on a weekend and generally living a fairly high octane lifestyle. Coming off a world tour just before the first lockdown was the most challenging time for me as it meant learning to readjust to a completely polarized lifestyle, one that in some respects should have been welcomed, but unfortunately the switch in pace was incredibly destabilising and had a negative impact on my mental health. Knowing how to look after myself when I wasn’t flat out all hours of the week was something I hadn’t been able to do and have had to begin to learn since.
The best tools for me when it comes to managing stress in the past have been –
Running/Exercise - I’ve found over the years that exercise is key in keeping my mental health stable. Even on tour I would make the time to do this, whether we’d stayed up late the night before or not. A short run or HIIT workout with the rest of the band in the venue before a sound check would be enough to keep stress levels down, even just a few times a week.
Meditation – Something that I’ve started doing in the last couple of years and I’ve found to be helpful. My mind is extremely overactive most of the time, so it’s definitely been a slow burn to benefit from, but I’ve found tonnes of useful insights through meditation and find that even just the commitment to doing something everyday is enough of a benefit to make it worthwhile.
And more recently,
Routine – Being more strict with the hours I work and always giving time in the day for something that completely switches me off or engages a different part of my brain. Also, making sure that I always have at least one proper day off in the week that doesn’t involve anything work or computer related.
Here’s a personal playlist I curated last year that I often use to wind down to:
The main thing that has helped me over the last couple of years is reducing the amount of pressure I put on myself, especially in respect to some sort of time related expectancy. For example in relation to writing music If I write all day and don't come up with a good idea that can very easily have a real effect on my state of mind and my mood will plummet which is absurd really.
For me it's one of the worst feelings, sitting in the studio doing the one thing I love to do (making music) and it not going well, so to combat that now I try to celebrate just being creative and if I feel like things aren't going how I would have liked I stop and reassess what I'm doing, rather than just hitting my head on the wall.
If I'm having one of those days I'll now think ok stop, don't get frustrated, why not try and make some new patches on a synth, make drum loops. collect samples - just switch things up. I have tons of little tricks to break out from an unproductive cycle which leads to an unproductive day now but really who cares if some amazing track didn't come out in one session or in a week, it's all a process, not forcing things will probably get a better result in the end. It's sort of like why become your own worst boss, we all do this shit because we love it and it's important to remember that.
The other main thing I do is try and meditate daily, often I'll use Headspace as I can't slow or clear my thoughts on my own very well, but just that little ten to twenty minutes of calm seems to really help me. It's funny because when a friend (Nico) first suggested meditating as a way to help my mental health I couldn't have been more against it but he persuaded me to have a go and after doing it everyday for a week he's totally right, it does help, a lot. I'm a hectic person so that calming moment / practice is something I really need.
Some music to help you de-stress - curated by Hodge:
Sakamoto 'Playing Piano For The Isolated'
I could pick any Sakamoto, but this feels fitting.
Laurel Halo 'Raw Silk Uncut Wood'
Laurel at her best.
Leo James 'Centre Of Time'
I love this track, 20 minutes long and such a trip.
Ulla Straus 'Haus'
Beautiful track, really soothing.
The whole of Facta’s new album is perfect for lifting you out of a bad mood.
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Priscilla Ermel 'Corpo De Vento'
Amazing, can get totally lost in this track
I mentioned above but Nico was the friend who got me to try meditating so it feels fitting to include this track in the list, a fuzzy sub driven mushy track I come back to all the time.
Rhythm and Sound 'See Mi Yah'
These next two are about as obvious a choice as you could imagine, but there's a reason for that, and I don't think there's a better record to de-stress with than Rhythm and Sound - I've heard this so many times and every time I play the record I still smile.
Aphex Twin 'Selected Ambient Works 85-92'
Pev's Old School Jungle Mixtape
I love chilling with all of the above music but sometimes we just need a little tear out.
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A number of music industry workers have also shared videos with their stories and tips, which you can watch below.