Elliot Aronow is a professional life coach and creative consultant and has supported artists and brands including GQ, The Strokes, RCRD LBL, Noah, and The FADER. His specialties include creative coaching, men’s work, and empath coaching. For more info on his work please visit here.
We recently heard that it’s trendy for people in the entertainment and technology industries to talk publicly about mental health now. Here’s a hot take on the matter: that’s awesome!
If nothing else, the past few years have given us plenty of opportunities to go within and get to know our minds and bodies better, partially because there was nothing to do “out there” and partially because formerly fringe things like meditation, life coaching, and breathwork have moved from the margins to the mainstream.
Suddenly, striving for balance and vitality wasn’t some sort of New Age luxury, but rather an essential ingredient to staying healthy and sane during an epically overwhelming and unsettling time. For a lot of us, that meant sitting with long-ignored shadows and moving deep into mind caves (and caves within caves) that we never knew existed in order to uncover and heal uncomfortable truths. For others, the journey was a bit softer — warming teas, gentle stretches, and maybe a few binaural beats compilations streaming in the background. Wellness, as it turns out, is a spectrum.
A common question we started asking ourselves when putting this article together was: How can we add to the dialogue that’s going on around mental health in ways that are more conversational and less prescriptive? The answer was obvious — let’s reach out to some artists we admire and have them talk about what this whole mental health and wellness thing looks like through their unique lenses!
For this roundup, we reached out to three Songtrust clients: Fresh C, P La Cangri, and Lady Nade. Below are their answers to a few key questions. We hope their insights inspire and support you in your journey!
WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH INNER WORK / SELF DEVELOPMENT LIKE? WHEN DID IT START?
Lady Nade: My relationship with inner work started in 2016 with the release of my first album. "Hard To Forget." I felt like I was being rejected because my identity and music didn’t fit into a stereotype. It was very hard on my self-esteem.
I wanted to explore how I could stay true to my art and my integrity without needing to rely on the industry or the press to tell me I was worthy. That led me to my current routine. I dedicate an hour every day to meditation, yoga, and my spiritual practice because all of those practices help me to develop a strong sense of self that allows me to connect and to serve like-minded people.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED AS AN ARTIST IN TERMS OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH? WHAT PRACTICES HAVE HELPED YOU TO DEAL WITH THEM IN MORE PRODUCTIVE WAYS?
Fresh C: I’m a complex PTSD survivor, so every day is challenging - not only as an entertainer in the music industry but as a human being. I try to use my experiences as fuel for my growth.
A few things that have helped me along the way are setting visual goals, using positive affirmations, meditating, and of course, using some medicinal cannabis. I see it as my own responsibility to stay balanced, productive, and positive and all of these things have kept me moving forward.
DO YOU HAVE ANY RITUALS OR ROUTINES FOR “GETTING INTO THE ZONE” AS A CREATOR?
P La Cangri: Absolutely. This might sound simple but I drink coffee. It’s not for the caffeine. I’m Cuban and coffee is a very big part of my culture. When I drink it in the morning I feel the warmth of my ancestors and those artists who came before me.
After my coffee, I work out at 5 AM and have my phone and all social media things turned off completely. In that space, I can focus on what I need to do to win — everything else is a distraction that I don’t need.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILLS YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM YOUR MENTAL HEALTH JOURNEY THAT HAVE HELPED YOU AS AN ARTIST?
Lady Nade: I think my work has allowed me to be a much better communicator. When I’m deeply listening and seeing how I can be of service, it helps me to get out of my own head and my own problems.
This work is funny in some ways because we receive messages from society that everyone is anxious and depressed and so we should just get on with it while also receiving messages from our egos that we are unique in our challenges and our suffering. I think listening and speaking with intent helps to soften both of those perspectives and allows us to tap into a greater truth — your feelings matter and they deserve to be heard!
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE INDUSTRY RESPOND TO THE CHALLENGES THAT MUSICIANS FACE WHEN IT COMES TO STAYING BALANCED, WELL, AND HAPPY?
P La Cangri: This business is not easy. Most of the time, if someone doesn’t see a dollar in their future, they don’t want to know you. That’s ok — business is business — but I wish people would act with more kindness and more transparency. Artists are sensitive by nature. There’s a kind way to say “no” or to give feedback. I own a label and I receive a lot of submissions from artists. Even if their music isn’t a fit, I try to treat them as I would want to be treated. A lot of people who weren’t a good fit business-wise became my friends because we connected on that human level. We need more of that in the industry!
Don't forget - you're not alone in this struggle. Check out our past "How Am I Really Doing? Discussing Mental Health Among Creators" panel discussion, our Instagram Live interview with Equilibrium to start, or download our free Mental Health & Wellness Guide.