Monday, 9 December 2019

Mental Health In Music: A Musician's Perspective #6 - Christer Lunnan-Reitan (Longtime Friend/Label Don/Noise Maker)


Here's the latest interview from my Mental Health In Music and this one comes from longtime (Internet) friend Christer Lunnan-Reitan. Christer used to contribute some reviews to this blog and has been a constant source of new music ever since. A little while ago, I asked him if he wanted to share his thoughts and experiences around being a musician and coping with mental health along the way. He was kind and gracious enough to say yes, so here it is.

1. The idea of this feature is to talk about the problems that musicians face, especially those in DIY  or up-and-coming bands. Would you mind talking about your own experiences with mental health?

A. First off, the idea behind the feature series is extremely important and interesting. My own relationship with mental health is complex. I've more or less lived with depression for as long as I can remember, but only recently been diagnosed with it. I also suffer from mild anxiety and avoidant personality disorder, which is basically a way of saying I avoid confrontations, speaking with authority figures and the likes, as well as being overly sensitive to criticism, how I think people perceive me and the like. 

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2. Being in a band can be an outlet for people to express their feelings and to help them get over certain things in life but do you feel that it can also have a negative effect? If so, what do think these effects can be and are these linked to writing, recording, touring etc?

Oh, I certainly think so. Being able to express their feelings might backlash due to the sheer fact of exposing them to the world and people around you. But I do think that the overall effect of having creative and emotional outlets via art focuses more on healing than something negative. 

In regards to touring and writing, it all depends. I mean, if an artist is having a bad period, earlier material can be a hammer knocking them over their head and making things worse. Touring in a tiny van with people for hours and hours is enough to make everyone fed up, and I recKon it's harder if one is having a bad period in life as well. 


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3. How do you deal with things now? Have you got any advice for those who are struggling themselves, musician or otherwise?

I've recently gone to great lengths to get to a better spot in life. I realised that I needed to get something done, or I would just burn out. I'm going to therapy, taking meds, writing music again and so on. 

My advice would have to be to seek professional help, as well as find someone you trust enough to share things with. Stuff you find shameful or disgraceful might bring you closer to someone. But of course, trust is crucial. 

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4. What more do you think can be done in the underground scene or even the wider music scene to support people who may be struggling?

I think the DIY scene were I come from, or at least the US scene, is focusing on mental health now. But of course, it's hard to go out and write music if you're afraid of being judged by your peers, or it's hard to go to a show if you have social anxiety and so on. 

The internet community is really supportive and goes a long way to make people feel included, regardless of skin colour, your gender identity, your mental health. And I think they're good at standing up for the ones that have a hard time, as well as trying to weed out elitist behaviour (the ones that actually might put you down for your music, etc) 

In general, I think that the focus on mental health and the importance of helping those with mental health issues should be more prominent in media. Big names in pop as spokespersons is a simple, yet efficient way of getting that done, I think.

I hope you've found this interview and indeed the whole series helpful and enjoyable (if thats the right word). I think I've got one more coming up before the end of the year and once we get towards the New Year, I'll be recapping the whole series. Thanks again to Christer for sharing his experiences. Look out for those around you and for yourself. 

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