With the recent events of Tim Bergling’s (Avicii) death still fresh in the dance music worlds mind, it prompted me to go back and see the insightful ‘Avicii True Stories’ documentary which had a film crew follow him for a year or so with startling results.
I found myself watching the film thinking there are some shocking comparisons to his character that I exhibit (obviously to a far lesser extent as his superstardom put him on unimaginable heights).
The main focus of this blog was not only to highlight my sadness at such a talent being lost, but also that in a bizarre way, it may serve to help the greater good within the music industry by uncovering the seemingly taboo subject of Mental Health.
For years we have seen some mavericks in the music scene often given genius status for the creativity and craft they exhibit. All of which seem to follow a common theme of suffering in one way or another from mental health issues.
History Repeats Itself
Kurt Cobain, Chester Bennington, Michael Hutchense, Ian Curtis all great talents in their own right but all struggled with the fame and attention that walk hand in hand in this very unforgiving industry. Within the Avicii documentary, one of the artist’s work colleagues, Wycliffe Jean, likened Tim to another icon in Michael Jackson, particularly in the way that they were both able to hear how the music they made should play out before it even leaves their brains. This got me thinking to yet another artist that couldn’t cope with the rigours of stellar stardom without exhibiting some outlandish behaviours and that he too suffered at the hands of his own success, seeking drugs to help him sleep leading him to ultimately overdose and leave our world far too prematurely.
Shining Lights for Mental Health
I recently had the pleasure of a live Q & A with talented Manchester based producer Ben Pearce who shot to fame after his stellar hit ‘What I Might Do’ catapulted his career to such heights that he quickly became a household name.
What I found interesting when talking with Ben was how that track caused him such highs but in equality such lows. He found that he was living the ‘jet-set’ lifestyle doing performances across the world being marketed as the next big talent and then on the flip of that explaining how isolated and lonely all the travelling and hotel hopping often made him feel vulnerable and depressed. Add to that the extra stress of expectation that he put on his own shoulders to produce another massive hit to add to the success of his other track, he explained this all led him to drink more and more in order to drown out the negative thoughts only to find that they served to heighten his feelings and ultimately led him to thoughts of suicide.
The major difference however is he had the foresight (and strength) to say ‘I need help’ and is actively a shining light for other artists within the dance music scene to seek advice on mental health issues, ultimately (hopefully) shaping the industry into a healthier environment for all.
No Business like Show Business
I think the harsh reality of all recent events brings to like that perhaps (and I know I maybe clutching at straws here) there needs to be some form of moderation for the level of work performing artists undertake? More specifically touring artists at the height of their game might benefit from something a bit more regulatory to help with the intense schedule they often find themselves in. I appreciate that this might be a pipe dream and that we are in a supply and demand business but surely, it’s not worth killing yourself over?