It wasn’t personal and it wasn’t final either.
A few months ago, after coming out of the toughest year of my life, I figured out that doing the ‘music biz’ thang has become an unhealthy choice for me. I made an announcement about it last week and the overwhelming response from my supporters was one of understanding and compassion.
I realised I’d stepped onto a spiritual path.
Seven years ago, when I committed myself to making a music career happen, I vowed if I ever lost my enthusiasm or joy, became bitter or stressed by being within the industry, that I would stop. As I was first entering the industry, I saw artists who were having an absolute ball, loving every minute with consistent passion and drive, but I also saw those who were feeling the pressure and seemed to be just getting by, not enjoying themselves and living a groundhog day existence. Unfortunately after just two albums, I was experiencing those feelings too. It was super painful for me to suffer in the everyday realities of doing something I truly love, as I know my natural state to be one of joy and enthusiasm. I truly relish being in that positive state, so putting myself in a situation where I was being pushed to my mental/emotional/physical limit every single day really dampened that enthusiasm.
I now know, when I’m not doing what I’m meant to be doing, not listening to my heart, and being led by my head instead, I become really kinda yuck to be around. I lose my empathy, understanding, patience and listening skills. I don’t want to be around a ‘me’ like that, and even though they love and support me through everything, deep down neither do my friends or colleagues. I know this happens when I fail to set boundaries for my self-care and become run down, if I’m not honest about what feels right for me and push too hard, or notice I start playing the blame game. These things are BIG ol’ warning signs!
Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter
I lose my empathy, understanding, patience and listening skills.
Choosing to consciously look at these behaviours became a major priority for me about three years ago. Through beginning to look at these things, I realised I’d stepped onto a spiritual path. The more I walk that path, the more I have to let go of ways of being that I previously thought were integral to who I was. Parts of me that wanted attention and were driven by needing the acceptance/approval of others, external success, my image etcetera, everything was being challenged. I also realised there are some basic things I need which keep me in a positive and loving place – for myself, and others (which ultimately is the only thing that matters to me). Eating well, resting well, honouring my own personal rhythm, creating and being ‘out there’ only when I realllly want to, so as to remain authentic. Then I have so much more to give!
Luckily, since starting to make changes to my life in the last few months, I’ve found that enthusiasm and joy again, therefore I am able to love more than ever! Recently, someone I was working with for the first time told me I was “like a dog on lino”. I had no idea what he was talking about until he told me that meant I was just SUPER enthusiastic. I’m glad to be a dog on lino once again!
There is noone to blame for the way I coped (or didn’t cope) with being part of the music machine. Some people are made for it and others just aren’t. My record label have always given me complete creative freedom and my management looked after and supported me really well. They truly are great people who work their asses off for musicians. They are also working within a structure of music and media, and that can be frustrating at times, but they need to keep going to keep things rolling for their artists.
It wasn’t personal and it wasn’t final either.
I chose to make an announcement about my decision to leave the industry last week as I wanted to have open honesty with my audience so they could make the most of these last shows I have coming up. When I posted my blog and the press release went out, each subsequent media headline included the words ‘Retiring’ and/or ‘Quitting’. I had a good laugh. It wasn’t personal and it wasn’t final either (just cause they said so). A lot of the time, people will only read the headline, so ‘retirement’ is probably what people will take from all of this. In reality, my official statement made it clear that I’ll actually be transforming how I go about making and touring music into new ways that are on my own terms and in perfect timing for me, rather than sticking to the necessary rules of working within the industry.
I plan on doing intimate and special house concerts and hopefully still playing the occasional festival (if they’ll have me!) so I can still experience playing with my amazing band. I do plan on making music in new and fresh ways, and I suspect within some very unexpected outlets and genres! I just don’t know when this will be, and maybe not for some time.
I know myself to be someone who will always push boundaries and is creative in lots of different ways. Like a lot of creative people, I give 100 percent to whatever I’m doing at the time and am committed to doing that in the best way possible. I’m now embarking on new creations, expressions and experiences (most of them completely unrelated to music) but I know that writing, recording and performing will still be a part of my life in some way in the future. For sure, the way I engage with music as a career will be more grounded, definitely not as ambitious, probably much less accessible to music industry folk or to people who are on a different path to me. But that’s totally cool ‘cause we can’t all like the same things or live each others way of life.
Let Love Rule, Love Always
Pic by Munya Chawora