“There is this myth that you have to be anxious to be creative, that you have to be depressed to be a genius.” – James Blake
The music industry has always struggled with mental health issues — but now there seems to be a movement to raise awareness and make wellness more of a priority, and it’s about time. One artist leading the way is a man of many talents, singer, songwriter, musician and producer James Blake.
Behind his brilliance, Blake admits he has struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts, especially early on in his career when hit the road at age 21. Now, at age 29, he recently found himself speaking at the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA) annual symposium in Orange County, California, as part of a panel, You Got This: Managing the Suicide Crisis in the Arts Population.
During which, Blake described his own struggles that many other artists can relate to: “your connection to other people becomes surface level. So if you were only in town for one day and someone asked you how you are, you go into the good stuff… which generally doesn’t involve how anxious you feel [or] how depressed you feel.”
His personal solution came in the form of saying no: “Honestly, a lot of catharsis just came in telling lots of people to fuck off. And saying no. Saying no to constant touring. No [amount of] money will ever be enough… we’ve reached a critical point. We are the generation that’s watched several other generations of musicians turn to drugs and turn to excess and coping mechanisms that have destroyed them. And there are so many high-profile people recently who’ve taken their own lives. So we, I think, have a responsibility to talk about it and to remove the stigma.”
Thank you to James Blake for stepping up here and thank you to the many others who have shared their stories recently. No doubt, the more we openly talk about our struggles the more we can help each other get through them.