Within a year we’ve seen the world we know and love come to a complete standstill. It’s hard to pinpoint anywhere across the world that hasn’t been affected in some way by the Corona shit show over the past 12 months. With many of us now out of work and an industry that has come to a complete standstill the effects on all of us have been unprecedented. It’s no wonder that Mind spoke to 16,000 people during the last national lockdown and found that nearly two thirds (60%) of people said that their mental health got worse.

In our industry mental health is already so prevalent, it’s something that needs to be addressed and talked about more often. From erratic touring schedules to late nights and the excess that goes with it as well the pressures that artists and others involved experience in bringing amazing parties together for us. It’s no wonder that many across our industry can suffer.

In times of struggle, it’s fair to say that sharing each other’s experiences can be a real help. It’s important to talk and be there for each other. With this in mind, we’ve caught up with some of our favourite selectors and promoters to ask them to share their experiences, the ups and downs of the pandemic as well as turning our attention to mental health awareness and wellbeing.

DJs //

VOIGTMANN

The UK at the moment is rock bottom with its nightlife industry. What repercussions can you see for our culture and the industry moving forward if nothing is done?

Lots of people will be struggling to keep their businesses open and keep their staff as for most of them there is 0 income and very little to no government support. Esp. the nightlife industry has been left behind by the government and many freelancers/self-employed artists fell through the net of support and are struggling to stay afloat. There’s is a huge dent in the ongoing rich development of UK music/club culture.

 

Can you share your own experiences and struggles at this time as a result of COVID and the current restrictions?

I feel I am in a fairly good position compared to others –  I carved out a solid position in the music business over the year and know it will return to it to some sort of degree after all is back to normal. Yet, I felt onsets of mild depression creep up as people like us are always busy and thrive off that. Suddenly, we had weeks of no business and simply sitting around waiting for ‘better times’. These are quite existential worries as I had left a solid job in architecture to be a self-employed musician. Scary to have all outlook taken away after years of fighting to establish yourself and earn a good income from it.

How do you think people reading this article can help stand against what is happening to our industry at the moment?

Generally, stay POSITIVE! I can only urge people to support their local scene, pubs, DJs, clubs etc…These are creative people are trying to keep the scene alive and can do with any support. Go see your fav DJ play even if it’s a sitdown gig when you can. Fight back – together we are strong!

 

SILVERLINING

Mental health for many has declined over the past few months. Can you share your own experiences and struggles in this time as a result of COVID and the current restrictions?

Lockdown was / is, without doubt, a challenge. We’re social animals and the extended time away from friends and family members felt alien and definitely caused different forms of anxiety. Firstly, there was the cabin fever of being at home for so long; then so many of us were unable to do what we love and enjoy music communally; and there was also all the professional uncertainty for creatives such as myself. We had Zoom calls and mix streams, but we found ourselves on them every day in some way or another, whether for work, kids’ schools, family, and friends. You end up existing as a miniaturised, pixelated, avatar of your real self. I recall a moment during one live stream over the summer when I looked up from the DJ booth only to see a single red light of the camera ogling at me eerily, like Hal 9000, and had into a moment of pure existential funk, wondering how we got to this. It is all completely unprecedented, and we are not equipped for these circumstances.

Overcoming this kind of negative headspace requires some work so you really have to fight lest it takes over. I’ve found that cardio exercise, yoga, meditation, eating well, reading books, being creative, all help to keep those happy hormones flowing. You don’t even need to do a lot to make a difference to your wellbeing, but it can take some effort to get over the mental barriers to do them in the first place. It’s also important to talk to friends and share feelings as everyone is going through this together.

What do you think are the main factors contributing to a decline in mental health in the industry currently?

The uncertainty has definitely been a huge challenge for so many people I know. This has also opened up a host of questions as to what one’s purpose is in life, especially when being met with the apathy — and even hostility — in government policy this year. Those events that have been able to take place did so under surreal conditions. The scene is not even a shadow of what it was a year ago. All this has come as a shot out of the blue at time when music was really thriving, so it’s definitely taken its toll on many people.

 

What positives if any have come out of this period for you? How have you been spending your time?

I’m glad you asked this, as I think there are a lot of positives that we should embrace. Spending much more time with family has been really rewarding. I’ve also enjoyed taking things more slowly production-wise, and not feeling rushed to get things done. You always get there in the end. With two album projects and tons of remixes coming next year, I’ve had plenty to keep me on my toes. I’ve cut back massively on social media use, and recently deactivated Facebook. I have to say that not being on that newsfeed has been a real godsend. This has freed a lot of spare time for more productive and rewarding things like reading, cooking, and organising records.

Any other comments you would like to make…

Linked to what I just said about social media, I have read several studies and articles* that establish links between social media usage and mental health deterioration. During the pandemic, social media use has skyrocketed as a coping mechanism as it’s natural that people want to connect with others online while in isolation. However, due to the addictive design of sites like Facebook and Twitter, increased social media use is likely to exacerbate depression, anxiety, FOMO and feelings of inadequacy. Much like a slot machine, the dopamine craving sends us back to these sites in pursuit of a feeling that may never come. On top of this, we have trolls, bots, misinformation, and targeted advertising to further lighten our moods! I shudder to think of the amount of time I’ve freely volunteered to Facebook, feeding their AI for this company’s benefit and not my own.

So I would make a few gentle suggestions if these harms resonate with you: you can limit your time by deleting smartphone apps, and setting timers on your computer using apps like Hey Focus. If you can, deactivate your personal Facebook and keep your page active via a second account. This way, you still keep your connections and artist/business page, if needed. Instead, give your friends a call or text, and use the rest of your time more creatively.

*For example:

http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7338858/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200929152149.htm

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/social-media-and-mental-health.htm

 

REVIVIS

 

Mental health for many has declined over the past few months. Can you share your own experiences and struggles at this time as a result of COVID and the current restrictions?

Covid has certainly had an impact on my own mental health. Having restrictions placed on how you live your life has meant I’ve found myself with more time on my hands which has generally meant more time on my own and with my thoughts. I’m mostly a positive person and I’m extremely lucky that generally, I don’t suffer a huge deal with mental health, but with more time to think, and being overwhelmed with negative media and covid stats/deaths via social media, etc, it’s not always easy to stay positive and motivated. I could find myself overthinking things and being overly sensitive.

 

 

What positives if any have come out of this period for you? How have you been spending your time?

Covid has given me more time to work on my own productions and to experiment with the different styles of my sound, I feel my sound has evolved a lot in this period. I’ve also taken the time to learn my equipment in more depth – lots of time on YouTube!

I’ve been listening to more music of various genres and I’ve tried to educate myself more on the origins of house and techno and the sub-genres in particular. Away from music, I’ve been cooking more and studying German. I’ve also realised that I can live a much simpler life and figured out what and who is important to me

 

How do you think people reading this article can help support what is happening to our industry at the moment?

I think supporting music firstly is the most important thing. If you’re able to buy music directly from the artists, that’s great, if not sharing music online and via social media helps.

If you can, donate to any of the clubs, labels, parties, etc. that are struggling. If not, share and spread the word.

Finally, educate yourself and try to understand the different types of mental health problems, and be kind.

 

MILLER – REAL GANG

Mental health is something you guys have really pushed to raise awareness off over the past 12 months. Why is that?

Life as a modern day adult has its struggles as it is, when you mix that with restrictions and repeated lockdowns, we feel we are at a time that we are unaware of the effects this is having in the long run. Being solely involved in an industry of events, most of my network has been suffering with the crippling obvious loss of work, cancellations and also moments of connecting. We feel like the dance floor has gave us an extended family, for these people it is a huge part of their lives and celebrating at shows is their freedom. We wanted to step out of comfort zone and push a message that we as Real Gang want to send a genuine and message, rather than always positive when in reality life is not built on these times alone. Our intentions of bringing people together with a message to “save our people” has been our push to do our part, to highlight the matter of normalising mental health within our industry and our people.

 

Tell us more about your ‘Save Our People’ campaign?

The Real Gang “Save Our People” campaign was our input to mental health in which we have partnered up with the Samaritans charity. A clothing line with bold statements in support of the cause. The clothing can be found directly from our website www.realgang.co.uk with 100% of proceeds going to Samaritans charity.


How have you kept yourself active and positive during these times?

Music is my life so as long as I have my studio, my machines, my ears, I can always have my safe place. It has been tough without the usual inspirations around but it has been a time that has challenged me with a nightmare scenario and I have kept myself going, growing and I chose to spend the time on myself. My learning will keep me going as I smile at the thought of brighter days

 

DAN CURTIN

Can you share your own experiences and struggles in this time as a result of COVID and the current restrictions?

It has been a rough time with the loss of gigs and income for sure.  That has been my main trouble, we can all imagine what it means to a family to lose a good portion of income.  So I’ve had to work in different ways to try to make up for it all and I’ve had to stay mentally strong and optimistic in order to be able to handle the extra stress.  This means more work than before and the need for extra determination, more discipline, and more passion.  It’s hustle time!  Hustle harder than last time for sure.

How have you been spending your time?

I’m naturally an optimistic person, always looking to find the silver lining so it hasn’t been that tough on me apart from the added stress as a result of loss of income and future income.  With no traveling I’ve been able to work more in other areas and develop my music career with a tighter focus on production work.  So I’ve actually been busier than ever in that regard.   I’ve been laser focused on my health and fitness (although during the first lock down I drank waaaaaay too much!) so that helps tremendously.

Not making that mistake again during this current lockdown! Bodybuilding is a serious hobby of mine and that has really been an asset to me during this time.  Even with gyms closed never skipping training, never falling off the nutrition plan – never, not once – that really helps.  Healthy and strong body is the foundation for a healthy everything else.  Additionally when schools were closed we had to home school our daughter which was incredibly time consuming but very rewarding, again this was a big help to maintain the focus and have purpose.  Even now, the schools are open but in a limited fashion so there is always school work to occupy our time.

 

Any other comments you would like to make…

Stay strong, stay positive, stay determined, try to get outside, and try to move, seek out help if you need it, don’t stay alone. There is always somebody around who is willing to help.

 

PROMOTERS //

OLLI RYDER

ANIMAL CROSSING

You guys have been one of the very few promoters who have managed to pull off events during this period to really high standards! What was your vision for these when you planned them?

Firstly, thank you for the kind words! It was something we were super proud to have worked on and delivered to a standard that created similar energy and atmosphere to what you would expect at any AC party. Music is all about connecting likeminded souls and I feel as if we successfully achieved that from the feedback we received. It was just amazing to hear music blaring from a function one system and see people dancing again after such a long hiatus.

A lot of energy and resources always goes into ensuring the experience is unique and remembered. The regulations didn’t interfere in that sense, your eyes and ears were engaged at all times. It’s by no means what we’re all used to but in these times we can happily say we were able to adapt, innovate and grow.

This whole period has allowed us to reflect further and grow an even deeper appreciation for what we do. We just love throwing parties for the people and getting the opportunity to showcase our favourite artists in the City we love, we will always find new ways to dance no matter the circumstance and we can assure anyone reading we will be coming back bigger, bolder and better than ever before.

 

You recently did a live stream from your new venue The Loft and worked closely with MIND to help raise awareness of mental health. Tell us about this?

 Giving back is something we have always wanted to put at the forefront of the brand, as we grow we want to help as many people around the world as we possibly can. There are wider projects and concepts we’re working on behind the scenes that we’re super excited to share when the moment is right.

This period of self reflection has again been so helpful for us, if you sit back and really analyse what you have, a wave of gratitude hits and it opens your eyes to a much bigger picture. Mental health is a topic that affects so many in our industry and is more relevant now than ever before; to be able to utilise the Loft and collaborate with MIND to get people dancing and donating was something we’re proud of.

Sending another massive thanks to Michael James and Josh Baker for performing and to everyone who tuned in, we couldn’t have asked for a more meaningful response.

We just love our community, people share the same caring ethos that encourages you to keep progressing.

 

One thing we love about you guys is how positive you have kept over this year. It’s refreshing to see. Any tips to keep spirits up during this time?

A smile a day keeps everything okay my man haha!

We have always been a firm believer of radiating the positive and fun energy with everything we do. It’s easy for a negative thought process to take over your day, so if we can do anything at all to bring a smile to someone’s face then we’re utilising our platforms in the right way.

Positives can be taken in any scenario, the more you focus on them the more you can be at peace, be happy and continue to grow internally. Don’t worry about what you can’t control, work on the internal self and the rest will come.

 

EOIN SMYTH + DAVE BROWNING
FOUNDERS at GAME OVER (One Night Stand, Wildchild)

Mental health for many has declined over the past few months. Can you share your own experiences and struggles in this time as a result of COVID and the current restrictions?

ESWe’ve gone through the ups and downs of COVID from both a personal and business standpoint like everyone else. 2020 would have been our biggest year to date at Game Over with over 120 shows planned across our event brands and client operations. I think personally the uncertainty of the future has been the hardest pill to swallow. We spent months working out ways we could pivot to work within the rules but alas every step forward was met with two steps back as the rules kept changing. The continuous speculation definitely takes its toll. There’s been plenty of times where we’ve sat there thinking. “WTF is the point, should we just throw in the towel now and move forward”. Those dark moments are usually fixed by digging a little bit deeper, playing a few bouncy records remembering that we absolutely love what we do and this should all be temporary ☺

 

What positives if any have come out of this period for you?

ES: For the first time in a long time. I’ve allowed myself to have a break. Re-focus my attentions on myself, my relationships, family, friends etc. We’re usually in a strange bubble where we are 24/7 on the go. Time has flown by over the past years working in Ibiza and it’s rare I’ve taken a moment to press pause and reflect. It’s nice to be able to explore new ideas and opportunities while having some physical downtime. I’m definitely back in the game fitness wise so can finally see that Mens Health front cover on the horizon. You heard it here first hahaha!

Workwise we’ve found ourselves in so many exciting projects over the past 6 months. We look after the marketing and digital side of things for Carl Cox and a host of other clients and the shift to online overnight was incredible. With Carl we’ve helped put together an amazing weekly live stream series called Cabin Fever where Carl gets a chance to dig deep into his 150k Vinyl’s and really showcase his taste in music from funk and soul to 90’s rave and every in between. The response has been outstanding and it’s been real pleasure to work on. We’ve also raised thousands of pounds for varying charities over the course of lockdown with the many live streams and projects taken on. So that’s been a plus and something our industry is magic at.

 

How do you think people reading this article can help stand against what is happening to our industry at the moment?

DB: People who have been around as long as I have remembered we were faced with an assault on the scene in the 80’s . At that time concerted and collective action was the way sense was restored. As human beings we have a right to congregate, to dance and to socialize. All of those rights have been taken away and with that a whole sector of the economy has been destroyed, if swift and concise action is not taken now it may never recover. This is not a time for apathy , this is not a time to blindly obey this is a time to question , understand and then act. At the moment we are being very skillfully divided and confused , a leader need to step forward with the ability to galvanize people into collective action before its to late and we will be the generation who stood by and watched as our world imploded

 

KERRY WALLACE

S.A.S.H

Mental health for many has declined over the past few months. Can you share your own experiences and struggles at this time as a result of COVID and the current restrictions?

Personally I’ve been fine, I think I was well overdue a rest after almost 10 straight years of S.A.S.H every Sunday, so when COVID kicked off & everyone was locked down, initially I was happy to take the break. Of course, like everyone else, I had no idea that it would be almost a full year my business would be shut down & if someone had told me that from the beginning I’d say my mental health may not have been as good as it has the whole way through.

What do you think are the main factors contributing to a decline in mental health in the industry currently?

I think the uncertainty, financial worries & lack thereof from different countries governments support really would be the main factors. When will my venue open? When will my gigs/bookings start again? Is the third wave about to begin & put us back to square one? How the hell am I going to pay rent? Obviously everyone’s situation is different, but I think the above points have all come into play for most of us.

My personal situation here in Sydney is that I’ve been lucky enough to have had some savings to keep myself & my staff afloat. We’ve kept active with the brand all the way through & just recently started back with COVID safe events under the brand S.A.S.H Social. The government too here has been helpful with a wage subsidy called “Jobkeeper” which of course helps, although doesn’t touch the sides in way of monthly costs we’ve had to keep up. But things for us are on the way back & I feel lucky that we are in Australia right now.

 

 

How do you think people reading this article can help support what is happening to our industry at the moment?

If you know someone within our arts & music scene check in with them, make sure they’re not secretly suffering & if you have an inkling they are, do something about it. I’m sure the smallest gesture would go a long way for anyone in a bad headspace.

Otherwise, if you can’t do anything right now, once the venues are back open & your friends are out playing gigs – GO OUT & SUPPORT THEM. Pay double if you can for door entry, re-post your friend’s gigs, do anything you can to support those once they are back open/working!

Any other comments you would like to make…

A little msg to my friends around the globe in the industry that have had it tough hang in there…. It’s been a complete shit show for everyone. But there is light at the end of the COVIDE tunnel & we’ll get there at some point together. Just keep in the back of your mind how fucking EPIC the parties/gigs will be once we are all open/working again…. That’s what’s kept a smile on my face – Stay strong peeps xxx

 

WILLIAM POWER

TRMNL

The UK at the moment is rock bottom with its nightlife industry. What repercussions can you see for our culture and the industry moving forward if nothing is done?

Many people who have committed their lives to the industry are questioning what the future holds. The government appear to have turned their back on us and we are already at a stage where some irreversible damage has been done. Whether you’re a creative, artist, venue owner/promoter, security guard, production team etc – next time around would you make that same commitment to your trade? If you have a family or people that rely on you – are you even able to make that same commitment knowing that there would be no support for you? I think we will have lost some great contributors to local & international scenes. The longer this goes on, the more we will lose.


What do you think are the main factors contributing to a decline in mental health in the industry currently?

Media. Social and mainstream. We are living in the age of misinformation. How do we distinguish what is true and what is false? Everywhere you look there is a mainstream media outlet pushing a fear campaign. They are closer to a government or corporate PR company than an impartial voice for the many.

Socially everyone has a viewpoint (which by right they are entitled to) – but how has that been construed by a 4thhand article with a click bait headline. Or a conspiracy theory posted by an “influencer”. What about the stories based on actual first hand experiences – then slammed by a mob of keyboard trolls. The confusion alone is dividing people more than uniting them.

 

What positives if any have come out of this period for you?

Spending time with my family and 18 month old daughter. Spending some time doing other things that I enjoy and catching up with friends that you don’t get to see when you work every weekend.

I love that feeling of working under pressure and being part of things that come together in the 11th hour. When you’re in that zone, you can achieve a whole different level of productivity. But, you can also make the wrong decisions at times. This period has made me take a step back and look at things differently. What is important, who is important. How can we do things better, more efficiently, work better as a team.

 

INDUSTRY HEADS //

ANDREW LEESE –
SOCIALLY SOUND

Any tips for people who may be struggling with their mental health at the moment?

Cleanse your social media feeds. I did this with my Twitter account during the lockdown and honestly, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. So many people are going onto social media and coming off it angry with what they are reading and who they are engaging with. Social media timelines are a toxic place if you let them.. Take control of them and use them with a purpose and you will be amazed what inspiration you find.

Two other things I need to do a lot more of is exercise and drink more water. That’s the negative side of lockdown and being inside so much, our bodies can survive on a lot less.

 

What do you think are the main factors contributing to a decline in mental health in the industry currently?

I think a lot of people who are involved in our industry whether professionally or as a clubber use music events as an escape from reality. Now, the dance floor has been taken away from people. We are constantly facing what is a very grim reality.

Obviously, what some people consume on those nights out can affect mental health in so many ways, but it’s those memories and stories that we live for and right now, we’ve got nothing else to look forward to. Something so trivial as having nothing to look forward to can also negatively impact your mental health, especially so during a global pandemic.

Money is another factor, probably now more than ever. We’re either saving money by not going to gigs and festivals every weekend or we don’t know where our next penny is coming from.

 

Can you share your own experiences and struggles at this time? 

Furlough and lockdown in a weird way have been a blessing for me personally. Last year, I’d definitely gone way past the burn-out phase. The start of 2020 was a rocky one,  I was working outside of the music industry for the first time in over six and a half years.

In late February, I started a new role back in the music industry – three days before the furlough cut-off point. If I started a week later, I’d have been in a really bad way financially and even more so mentally.

What lockdown and furlough gave me, was time to think, reflect and be honest with myself. I was made redundant from my role in August but those four months of free time gave me the chance to build a business plan for a new company, be financially stable and move out of London because right now, I don’t need to be there.

LOOKING AFTER YOUR MENTAL HEALTH //

 

If you’re struggling yourself at the moment what can you do? We caught up with Stephen Buckley from MIND charity to see what advice he can offer. Mind, the mental health charity provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problems.

What advice would you give to anyone struggling at the moment?

“It’s important to remember that there is no normal response to the pandemic and your feelings may change day to day. Because of this, it’s important to maintain your wellbeing during this time and connecting with other people is a vital part of this. Talking to someone you trust can help you manage your feelings, as many people find that sharing their experiences can help them feel better. If you’ve noticed changes in your thoughts, feelings and behaviour that are having an impact on your daily life, last two weeks or longer or keep returning, speak to a GP if you can.”

Are there any tips on how to look after your mental health?

“Our physical and mental health are closely linked so it’s important to eat well, stay hydrated and to try and take part in some physical activity, if possible, outside, as being in nature can really benefit our mental health. You might also find that it helps to express how you are feeling about the pandemic creatively. This could be writing, drawing, painting or any other creative way that feels helpful to you. Journaling can also be helpful, as keeping track of what you’ve been doing and how you’ve been feeling can be helpful in identifying what helps improve your mood.”

 

What do you think have been the main causes of a decline in mental health during this time?

“People are really struggling with isolation, stress, grief and fears about the future, and for those of us who were already experiencing mental health problems, things may feel especially difficult. We also know that there is a strong link between issues like financial difficulties, poor housing and poor mental health. So, factors like job insecurity, unemployment, low paid work and redundancy could have a knock-on impact on mental health.”

 

What services does Mind offer and how can Mind help?

“Mind has lots of information and advice on how to look after your mental health during this time available on our website at mind.org.uk and our Infoline is open 9am-6pm, Monday-Friday (except Bank Holidays). Side by Side, Mind’s online peer support community, can also be helpful in getting support from others who have their own experiences of mental health problems. Side by Side is available to all, 24/7, and is moderated daily from 8:30am to midnight.”

One thing that is clear from all this is the importance of being there for each other, showing compassion and care for others and standing united. It’s ok to not feel ok. What’s important is you reach out and share your struggles.

Sending love to everyone from us all here at Meoko. Please don’t be afraid to reach out and stay safe X

Words by Jordan Diston