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2015: when music destroyed mental health stigma | Musique Non Stop

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015: when music destroyed mental health stigma

Candid talk about psychological illness, from Brian Harvey’s industry takedown to the Amy Winehouse documentary, dismantled stereotypes about depression in a year of refreshing openness

Last January, East 17 singer Brian Harvey posted a video online. Filmed in a brick-walled alleyway, it showed the musician smashing up his own platinum discs before delivering a short explanation to the camera: “That’s what I think of your fucking music industry.” Harvey, it emerged, had reached a point of despair with a business that had offered him no care and no financial or psychological support. Despite having sold 18m records, he now struggled to heat his home, suffered from long-term depression and frequently contemplated killing himself.

Historically, there has been a near-fetishisation of the relationship between mental illness and creativity, as if one might feed the other, as if Oscar Levant’s assertion that “there’s a fine line between genius and insanity” was true. What’s notable about the coverage of mental illness in the music industry in 2015, however, is how profoundly normalised its portrayal has been. Harvey’s video marked the beginning of a year in which the industry’s approach to mental illness seemed to shift; musicians began discussing problems with a striking candour and readiness. From Pete Doherty’s anxiety attacks before Libertines shows and Ezra Furman’s songs about mental precariousness to Florence Welch’s public account of depression, there has been no flaming glamour to these tales, only straight-talking stories of the distress and the drudgery of mental turmoil.

Related: When rap raged against racism – 2015 and the black protest anthem

This industry is all about perception: a lot of people wouldn’t want anybody to think they’re weak, or that they can’t do what they do, or that they’re not cool. Nobody wants to come clean, let alone an artist.

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by Laura Barton via Electronic music | The Guardian