July 1, 2021



Interview Sequence


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Jade: [00:00:00] Like, it's almost like leaving breadcrumbs for your brain  it's writing down your process so that it can be

[00:00:05] replicated.

[00:00:05] Exactly. Yeah. And maybe that's what your book should be called breadcrumbs for your brain.

[00:00:10] Ariel: [00:00:10] You should love it. You just thought of it!

[00:00:23] Jade: [00:00:23] All right. Y'all I turned off my AC and my dehumidifier and my cat's running water dish to record this intro. So I'm going to be a real quick because it's that got dang Tennessee heat. It's like a million degrees out.

[00:00:36] All right. Hey there, folks. Should we just pretend that the past two months were a week and that I'm on-time with this episode? No? All right. I'll explain. First I'm Jade Van Kley. I'm a registered nurse on a mission to bridge the gap between entertainment and public health. My show started strong coming out weekly with two whole episodes, and then I disappeared for two months.

[00:01:02]I've had this episode, and the one that will follow it, recorded since the beginning of May. However, on May 10th, I left for Canada to work on a feature film called "Hey Viktor!" where I supervised COVID safety. It was the most incredible experience of my life. And that's, that's not an exaggeration or hyperbolic in any way.

[00:01:24] It was also the most exhausting. And I had like less than an hour of free time every day that I was gone. We were primarily shooting on the Enoch Cree Nation reserve, otherwise known as Treaty Six Territory outside of Edmonton, Alberta, which meant that we had very, very little cell service or wifi most days.

[00:01:44]I absolutely cannot wait for you guys to see this movie. It's going to be the first Indigenous-made and Indigenous-centered comedy of its kind. And y'all. It is so funny. I know I'm biased. But I watched those same scenes recorded over and over every day, and it was still funny the entire damn time. You guys are gonna love it. I cannot wait for you to see it. I got to meet some of the most wonderful people I'll ever know. And I think this movie is going to be a hit. Um, I'll keep you posted on when it will be premiering, but for right now, please accept my deepest apology for this extremely, extremely late episode.

[00:02:23] And my sincere promise that I'll TRY to not let this happen again. But yeah, my work is pretty unpredictable, folks. Just a reminder that you can also subscribe to my Patreon to support the show, where I release bonus episodes. I had the Patreon paused while I was away, but I will be resuming it with a bonus episode about my time on the film, and a story from what was, at the time, of my departure for Canada the most harrowing day I've ever spent in an airport, only to be well-surpassed by last Thursday on my return trip from Canada. As we say in my home country of the upper-Midwest: Uffda. Anywho, today I am bringing you an interview with a lovely lady that I was fortunate to meet in real life, like out in the wild, in like a real face-to-face social interaction, where we spoke to each other with our mouths before meeting in the warm, cocooned blanket of social media.

[00:03:36] Which was a big deal for me, especially post pandemic it seems like all my, you know, meaningful interactions initiate, at least online these days. Our meeting felt kismet as I started this podcast or right before meeting her. And she leads a band whose music is primarily focused on, like, mental health and raw authenticity.

[00:03:58]I feel like our friendship is meant to me. That's all I wanted to say about that. On today's episode of Backstage Triage, I'm talking with Ariel Bloomer of the band Icon For Hire. She is also an accomplished author of the book "Turn Your Pain Into Art" and has an incredible TEDtalk, that I would bet almost everyone listening would be able to find some way to relate to. It's titled "How to lovingly hack your brain."

[00:04:26] You can find that TEDtalk on YouTube, but I will also be leaving links to her book and the talk and their music in the show notes of this episode.

[00:04:35] I hope you'll enjoy our conversation about mental health, mental illness and prioritizing authenticity over all else. Here is your third episode of Backstage Triage with guest Ariel Bloomer. 

[00:05:01] All right. You are in the band I Icon For Hire, will you tell me a little bit about your band, how long you've been together, your sound? For the folks who haven't heard it yet.

[00:05:11]Ariel: [00:05:11] Yes! We are based in the rock space, we started in like 2008 when hardcore was all the rage. And we were like in the local hardcore scene trying to keep up with everyone throwing down. And so our sound has evolved since then, like most fans who started in that place, you know? So we've gotten more experimental and more pop stuff, we do some hip hop stuff just to keep it fresh, but rock is really the base. So yeah, that means we've been around for I think 14 years, I don't know. It changes every year. I can't keep track of it.

[00:05:35] Yeah.

[00:05:36]We're totally independent, which we love. And I think it's important to share because it means that we just do things a little bit differently. We have a really cool relationship with our fans and they inform what we do. We all make decisions together like a family.

[00:05:46] Jade: [00:05:46] Yeah. I was just going to say like a

[00:05:48] Yes.

[00:05:48] Ariel: [00:05:48] You know, we treat them like they're our record label. And we just put out our fourth full length album in February, and there was lots of crazy COVID stuff for that to happen, which I'm sure we can dig into.

[00:05:59]Jade: [00:05:59] Yes! So, were you planning on touring with that album when COVID happened or what, what happened with it?

[00:06:03] Ariel: [00:06:03] We're on tour in Europe when COVID happened. And so we just watched every city, it got crazier and crazier and we're like, is this show getting canceled, is this show going to? And we're getting scared at meet and greets, getting close to people.

[00:06:14] We're like, "Oh my God, it's going to spread."

[00:06:17] And then, our last couple of shows were in Italy. So those clearly were canceled. We got like the last flight home. It literally felt like the last flight. We were just like, what do we do? Like everyone else, of course. Luckily, our producer that we wanted to work with had all his other artists canceled due to COVID.

[00:06:30] And so we were able to just step on in, merge quarantines with him, take those slots. So we went right in April, may kept our heads down, worked on this album. And so really we didn't know if we were gonna be able to tour because by then COVID was such a real thing,

[00:06:41] but it's crazy to release an album, and now here we are.

[00:06:44] And we're like, what do? We don't have a plan for post-album without touring. It's weird.

[00:06:48]Jade: [00:06:48] How have your fans been receptive to the album coming out without like, yeah. A tour date to come support you.

[00:06:55] Ariel: [00:06:55] Well, they've obviously been under- understanding. No one's we're not touring, but we definitely try to create-

[00:07:00] because the point of touring is to create engagement, it's to make it fun, to make this big event and be like, ta-da, here's the new music.

[00:07:05] And so we tried to do that without touring. And the way that we did that was we launched a crowdfunding campaign in the Fall, it did really well. That was just a beautiful way to get everyone hyped and onboard about the and to feel like they were really in, on the process, because then that meant we were able to make a lot of cool music videos we would otherwise wouldn't have made, you know, they were able to help  inform the artwork and the track listing and all these, things, we were able to involve them in. And so then by the time the album came out, we'd already had months of working on the album together as a collective, know?

[00:07:34]Then, what we did after the album came out is we did do a huge virtual live stream, aired that all over the world. That was super cool. We'd never done that before.  So that kind of helped make up for the lack of the live aspect.

[00:07:44] Jade: [00:07:44] Absolutely. That's really cool to have that like cooperative aspect of them being involved in the album. I feel like a lot of artists got stuck in that situation of like, I know folks that released an album last year, and then they just couldn't tour with it.

[00:07:57] Or they're releasing albums this year and it's like totally up in the air. And it's, it's just wild.

[00:08:01] Ariel: [00:08:01] It's so hard, but the silver lining. Yeah. If we get creative and find other ways to engage with our fans, create other income streams, those things could stay on.

[00:08:10] So then even when touring comes back on, you have a cooler way to engage. And so it could end up working out.

[00:08:15]But most of my friends were like starting Twitch accounts and do cool live streams. And like, that's what I love to see.

[00:08:20] Jade: [00:08:20] Do you feel like being independent and not being on a label during this time has allowed you to take more creative control that way and be able to be proactive in that way.

[00:08:29] Ariel: [00:08:29] Yeah. That's a great point. We are used to moving  quite quickly on the fly. We have a light team, so we're able to move quickly. Versus with a label, you often have to run decisions by- you get funding from the label. They have a lot of their hand in your decisions. And so yes, we were already used to sort of just going, keep your heads down DIY and everything.

[00:08:44] So, I think that did make the transition easier.  Yeah,

[00:08:46]Jade: [00:08:46] Absolutely. You had a Kickstarter at one point, right after you parted from your label. And it was like one of the highest funded music Kickstarters that year. Can you tell me more about what that experience was like?

[00:08:57] Ariel: [00:08:57] Yes. We're that Kickstarter Queens at this um, we, yeah, so we left our record label by choice. We filed bankruptcy. We were so happy to be free, but also like how do we do this on our So we turned to our fans for help, did this Kickstarter campaign and we did it where we had a few songs out, but we had didn't have them all recorded yet.

[00:09:14] So we were in the studio trying to get funding. And then we released the songs throughout the year, you know, like few every quarter. And then that culminated an album at the end of the year. So I think it brought in, I was like $126,000, which was the highest in the music category.

[00:09:27] It was incredible. But then this recent Kickstarter did more than twice that

[00:09:30] Jade: [00:09:30] No way. Oh my goodness.

[00:09:32] Ariel: [00:09:32] We just can't believe, we have the coolest fans.

[00:09:34] Jade: [00:09:34] I have been listening to your music nonstop and also your book.

[00:09:38]And it totally makes sense to me why you have such a loyal fan base.  In your book and your Ted talk, you're very much an advocate for mental health and really being real and genuine as opposed to, Trying to look good to other people,

[00:09:51]Ariel: [00:09:51] The authenticity piece. Is just purely selfish. It's so much easier to just show up as yourself. don't have of stuff. It's just gotta be so exhausting to show up one way to feel a different way. And I knew that that was not going to be sustainable. I want to be in this industry for the rest of my life.

[00:10:08] And so that means I don't want people to buy into a version of me. That isn't.

[00:10:11]Jade: [00:10:11] Exactly I totally agree with you. And I worked in music just like a little bit way before I became a nurse. And that was how I felt about it too. It was just exhausting to have to put on a face and Not be yourself, basically around people.

[00:10:25]Cause you don't know how they can influence your career.

[00:10:27]Ariel: [00:10:27] Yeah. What's the point? Because I found that the most connection I've been able to do, which has translated into longevity has been through being vulnerable and sharing my true self. Like, that's all we do, that's what the songs are.  That has worked so well. I can't imagine pivoting and being like, and now I'm going to start putting on this facade and pretending I'm bigger than I am or more impressive than I am. No.

[00:10:46] Jade: [00:10:46] Absolutely

[00:10:46] Ariel: [00:10:46] I think we've all learned that through social media. Yes.

[00:10:49] I'm over that game.

[00:10:50] Jade: [00:10:50] I totally thank goodness that Instagram was not a thing when I was in high school, I just can not imagine the pressure kids feel, and I used to work with teenage kids on a psych unit. And so many kids that we would get coming in, it would be social media related. Like, "someone was bullying me" or things like that. But also, such a huge part of their recovery and learning to accept themselves and develop coping skills is listening to music.

[00:11:16] I feel like teenagers, especially connect with music so strongly. And I was the same way when I was that age. Do you feel like that has been the case with your fans?

[00:11:25]Ariel: [00:11:25] Yeah. So it's kind of weird now that some of them are older, still in my head write for my 14 year old self, So that's my target market is emo 14 year old Ariel, crying in my room at the piano, listening to Linkin Park, you know, like I'm trying to connect with that chick still.

[00:11:40] And so I just feel like I get lucky if there's a 35 year old dude who also likes that doesn't really inspire me, to think of creating for the 35 year dude demographic. So I'm just going to keep aiming at what, you know, naturally what makes music and content come to mind for me.

[00:12:22] Jade: [00:12:22] Absolutely.

[00:12:22] Ariel: [00:12:22] Yeah I definitely was with you. I was the crazy music teenage girl.

[00:12:25] Me too. Absolutely.

[00:12:27] Jade: [00:12:37] So in your book literally the very first chapter,  just struck me so much because I could absolutely relate to it.

[00:12:43] You talk about, looking at your old journals after having years between when you wrote it and now, and having it strike you in such a deeply personal way. Can you explain what your reaction is? And you talk about it in chapter one of your book,


[00:12:57] "Turn Your Pain Into Art"

[00:12:58] art.

[00:12:59] Yeah, it's incredible. You guys have to read it, please.

[00:13:02] Ariel: [00:13:02] Yeah, it was like an obsessive journaler. I knew that the experience I was going through as a teenager, like I just, I couldn't buy into it. I was so pissed at this was the human experience. I was just disappointed and I could not accept that this could be the rest of my life. And I was hopeful that once I turned 18 and got the hell out of my parents' house and like had freedom and control, that would be better.

[00:13:19] And that has been the case for me and my, you know, brain chemistry as normaled out a little bit, which I'm grateful for, it. But yes, revisiting those as an adult. It worked. It took me back to those times, but it really, I had so much empathy for myself I was like, that poor girl was so messed up.

[00:13:35]And I guess I was hoping when I was writing them, you know, capturing them as a teenager, frantically writing down my every experience and thought quite, like, narcissistically now, now that I think about it. But you know, I guess I was really hopeful that my adult self would never write off that experience and never be like, "that was just the little emo phase," and never be disrespectful about that because I heard a lot of people, like they just say, "Oh, you're, you're just coming of age. That's just like, what happens? I'm like, "hell no!" This cannot happen to all of us. we can not all survive this!

[00:14:02] But when I read it, I wasn't inspired. I was just saddened, but I guess it drives me to want to keep making music.

[00:14:07]Jade: [00:14:07] Do you feel like it's a reminder, that the monster of severe depression, that that's always lingering and can come back at any time.

[00:14:14] Ariel: [00:14:14] Interesting! So I've actually done a lot of work to not believe that it can come back and get me at any time. That's been like really debilitating in my life to think that I'm just, you know, one bad month away from being back there and all this self-hatred or self-harm thoughts, or suicidal thinking and all that...

[00:14:31] And so instead I view it like, time capsules that are packaged away. You know, they're literally in a box in the basement or something. And I can revisit that if I want to. But I don't need to, and it's there for me, but that gives me freedom now to, to explore other ways of thinking and not feel like I'm going to lose myself, you know?

[00:14:47] Before I was afraid, I was gonna be like a balloon who would float away in the sky if I got too happy or like, you know, if you get like to rich and successful, you're going to be like them and you're gonna be so out of touch and you're gonna forget what makes you, you. So it gives me freedom to, to feel like if I ever need to go back to that place, I can, you need to connect with some part of myself I've lost.

[00:15:04]So that, that helps me.

[00:15:05]Jade: [00:15:05] Absolutely. That kind of, brings me to another thing I wanted to ask you about 

[00:15:10] in your Ted talk, you talk about babysitting your thoughts, which is a concept I love. And I was wondering if you could explain it for us.

[00:15:18] Ariel: [00:15:18] Yes. It's exactly what it sounds like. Like our thoughts are like a bunch of little rampant, you know, teenagers, not even teenagers, toddlers! Running trying to kill us, trying to make us do stupid shit, making us miserable.

[00:15:29]And it's just about not getting sucked into that and realizing that there is a more adult part of our brain, which I guess is called the prefrontal cortex. And that's the part of us. That's supposed to keep an eye on them and not identify with them, but see them as these little punks that they are and be like, "Oh no, you don't get a vote. You don't get a vote. I hear you. I love you. But no, we're not doing what you want to do!" And, you know, since, thinking of the  babysitting thing, I've kind of realized like probably the most powerful way to deal with the thoughts that have these voices is to comfort is to listen, is to be like, "Oh, I hear you. I love you. I see you. And we're still not going to do that."

[00:16:00] Jade: [00:16:00] Right. "But you're wrong!"

[00:16:01] Ariel: [00:16:01] Exactly.

[00:16:02] Jade: [00:16:02] Right, right. .  Something that really struck me in your book was talking about, you were playing in Europe and you decided to go watch the show from the crowd and you saw, the singer of a band who just really struck you as somebody who loved herself and was confident. And I think a lot of times in my life, people have said that I portray confidence in myself, but then in my mind? I'm like, I must be faking it really well. You know? And then it's like, and then when you like, see it.

[00:16:31]For real, like the real deal. It's easy to be like that, that's what I don't have and I want, and I want to work towards it. And then you go on to talk about, your experience with kind of accepting that you've been hating yourself and dealing with that. Can you tell me what that journey was like? Was it as easy as you thought it would be once you had that revelation?

[00:16:51]Ariel: [00:16:51] I mean, I guess I got lucky in that I did have this sort of  epiphany moment on the plane ride there. I was quite miserable in my thoughts and really mad at myself for not being happier because we were having outward success and it was exciting.

[00:17:03]So yeah, at first had the realization like, Oh my God, I hate myself. I didn't even know that I just was like swimming in my own self hatred, but this is powerful information to have. Okay. You know, awareness is the first step to transformation. So knowing that I hated myself was really valuable.

[00:17:15] And then coupled with this experience of seeing what I was perceiving as a woman who was up on stage loving herself and who knows whether that was true or not, that doesn't matter. I was able to use that in my own journey. You know? So you, even, if you don't, obviously I really want all of us to actually feel confident, but it's cool that we can still inspire other people to feel confident even if it's not all the way working for ourselves, you know? But yeah, so I feel like I got lucky, it got jump-started with some of this epiphany, all the weed and Amsterdam probably having do with it. Then since then, I had high hopes that it would like, you know, last forever and always, always be floating and loving myself and stuff.

[00:17:49] Um, that hasn't happened. Unfortunately, I did figure out how to do that, but I think it's been over five years, maybe six or seven years. And now I'm, it's always on my radar. I'm always. Looking, to make sure that my thoughts about myself are gentle like self-compassion is my jam. know?

[00:18:05] I, I guess I feel that people right off the term, loving yourself for a number of reasons. It's gotten more clout. In the Instagram space, which is cool. It also means that more people misunderstand it and write it off because loving yourself sounds stupid, like a waste of time, like with my kind of Type A and very, achievement-based brain. I'm all about what I accomplish. And so in that way, it's like, it doesn't matter how I feel. It just matters what I keep my head down and do, that's how I'm going to value myself. And so to instead always be reminding myself to value myself based on who I am, this is nothing new. Like we all, we all need to value ourselves on who we are and not on what we accomplished, but we are in a pretty achievement based society. It's really celebrated, you know? And then it's weird when people start bragging about how much they love themselves. I'm like,

[00:18:45] "well, if you love yourself, you don't have to

[00:18:47] go around and brag about it! Exactly. Yeah.

[00:18:48] Jade: [00:18:48] Like who are you trying to convince? Yeah!

[00:18:51] Ariel: [00:18:51] Yes.

[00:18:52] Jade: [00:18:52] Yeah. And, I really like, as a science minded person myself, and like somebody who's also worked in behavioral health quite a bit. I love how you operate on, okay. Here's the thing I want to achieve...

[00:19:03] even if it's something super nebulous, like not hating yourself, but you have a methodical way to get there. Even in your book, you say " as any good researcher, I decided to you know, document my thoughts and see," and I just loved that because it's like, you're giving yourself a plan of action, which is so paramount in any behavioral change or change in your thought process. Did you always operate that way or was it a skill you came to hone over the years?

[00:19:30]Ariel: [00:19:30] I don't know, this is the first time thinking about this. Now you're saying it. I don't know, but there is something powerful about taking sort of the ethereal weird abstract thoughts in our heads. And this maybe comes back to the journaling thing, which I still do obsessively an hour every day. I just journal it out and that helps me feel like I'm tracking, documenting. And then if I end up in a place I don't want to be, I can trace my way back or if I end up in a place, I do want to be, I'm always thinking about how I can teach others. Like whatever I'm learning my brain is always on that. Like how can I explain this concept?

[00:19:58]Jade: [00:19:58] It's almost like leaving breadcrumbs for your brain  it's writing down your process so that it can be replicated.

[00:20:04]Ariel: [00:20:04] Exactly. Yeah. And maybe that's what your book should be called "Breadcrumbs for your Brain."

[00:20:09] You should love it! You just thought of it!

[00:20:12] Because it's so messy and depression as a concept is like so heavy and there's so much thoughts about the thought of depression. It's so helpful to get it out of our heads. Look at it on paper, on our computers or on our phones or whatever.  Get some distance from it and. Really see how we feel about it. Otherwise I'll just get lost in the fog of it all.

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[00:22:30] All right. Okay. Thanks back to the show!

[00:22:33] Jade: [00:22:35] So you journal about an hour every day, do you ever go back and read ones that you've written recently? Or is it usually further in the future? Or do you not look back at all?

[00:22:43] Ariel: [00:22:43] I only look back when I need to reference something. Like, for example, maybe I'll be like, "Oh my gosh, I think I was having the same problem a year ago. Let me check." And then if I've been thinking and having the same issue for a year, I'm like, "girl, you need to like freaking figure this out because it's been draining your brains battery for a year."

[00:23:00]So I reference it for that. And I use a journaling software that lets me search by date and location. It's really nice. Since with touring, I can see like where all my Amsterdam entries are, where all my Sweden, Oh my gosh. LA entries.

[00:23:09] Jade: [00:23:09] Can I know what the software is called?

[00:23:11] Ariel: [00:23:11] It is Day One.

[00:23:13]Jade: [00:23:13] Not sponsored, by the way, but I am going to be downloading that immediately.

[00:23:17] Ariel: [00:23:17] Wonderful. So, so I can search by keyword that way, it's just fantastic.

[00:23:20] Jade: [00:23:20] Technology, man. It is the future.

[00:23:23] Ariel: [00:23:23] Ruing our lives and making life wonderful!

[00:23:25] Jade: [00:23:25] That is the thing. Isn't it? So how do you feel when you sit down to start journaling and then feel when you're done? Like, how does that process help you? 

[00:23:34] Ariel: [00:23:34] So it's the first thing I do in the morning. I've always loved indulgent mornings. So I get coffee and I sit in my office in like a cozy little chair and sometimes I'll light a candle or like have some cute music on and I'll just. You know, brain vomit. And it's my way to get it all out that way.

[00:23:49] I don't have to like talk it to death with everyone in my life. They don't have to listen to me talk about it. Cause I'm just getting out. And I actually use dictation a lot. So I can, you know, go quite quickly and get, I get a lot out.

[00:23:58] Jade: [00:23:58] that idea. Yeah.

[00:23:59] Ariel: [00:23:59] It's really the way that I processed what happened to me the day before, it's just a processing exercise.

[00:24:04] I'm just going through and you know, like when you're dreaming and you're sleeping and you're getting it all processed in the right space, that's what I'm doing the next day in the journal. And then I'm setting up the day of how I want it to look how I want to show up today. And so I literally say in my journal, like, here's what I'm planning on doing.

[00:24:17]But like, I will say this, I never. I never hype it up. I don't like trying to have positive affirmations. Like I just show up however I'm showing up. Um, and then by the end of it, I feel like, like I'm human and ready to show up all the way in the world.

[00:24:30] Jade: [00:24:30] Absolutely. Like you spent that time with yourself  and you can kind of allow other people into your world?

[00:24:35]Ariel: [00:24:35] Exactly and on tour, it's hard. I've had to really adjust. I'm quite introverted and it's been hard to wake up, you know, in a bus full of other humans or like on work tour. It's you wake up. It's like just people all around you everywhere. You know, our bus crashed on warped. And so we were in a van. You literally like wake up in like 90 degree heat and you brushed your teeth and you have to pee and you gotta like, get your clothes. And so you can change in the gross bathroom. That's half a mile away on a festival fairgrounds.

[00:24:59] And while you're going there, fans are trying to stop you for photos. I'm not trying to complain. That sounds bitchy, but it's

[00:25:02] Jade: [00:25:02] No, I totally. Yes.

[00:25:05] Ariel: [00:25:05] when I compare that to like, my zen-ful mornings that I'm used to, so yeah.

[00:25:10]Jade: [00:25:10] How do you get those Zen moments when you're on the road?

[00:25:13] Ariel: [00:25:13] Headphones, that's the secret.

[00:25:15]I've actually had to learn how to communicate with my touring crew. Whenever we bring new people in after like a week, they go to Shawn, my husband and band mate, and ask if I'm okay. It always happens because I use a lot of my energy meeting fans and the show, and I try to give my best, which means I don't save my best for the bus.

[00:25:34] That doesn't mean I show up in a negative way. It just means I don't talk a lot. So I'm quiet on the bus. And so new team members think I'm mad at them because I'm not like hanging and laughing and like. Go out and watch TV with them. I'm getting better at this. Like I'm working on it. Cause I want to be like a little bit more social and stuff, but generally I'll be in my bunk on my headphones on, and so I'm not super chatty on, you know, when we're touring.

[00:25:54] Jade: [00:25:54] You're recharging. That's your recharge time.

[00:25:55] Ariel: [00:25:55] That's exactly what it is. 

[00:25:56]Jade: [00:25:56] Yeah, I totally get that. It's tough. Being a person who's introverted, but like a sociable person, because yeah, when you flip that switch of like, "okay I need to recharge now." People are like, "are you mad at me?" 

[00:26:08] Ariel: [00:26:08] And I've heard  my whole life, like I really. I remember high school, my one little year of college, my friends would, I would just shut down for a

[00:26:15] second. and Just need a

[00:26:16] minute. And they would have to explain to the other people in the room, like to God could not have just like put a name tag on and been like, I'm fine. I'll come back.

[00:26:23] You know? I was such a handful, but

[00:26:24] Jade: [00:26:24] just want to be quiet for a while.

[00:26:26] Ariel: [00:26:26] Yes.

[00:26:26] And I, for a long time, like, am I being inauthentic by showing up so energetically on stage and when I meet the VIP's and everything and no, it's not that it's just that I'm, I'm showing up that way, the most present. Cause that's what matters to me the most.

[00:26:40] I really want to meet the fans and be a hundred percent engaged and really care and hang on to their every word and give them my best, same onstage. And since I have a limited amount. You know,  I'm going to spend it there.

[00:26:51]Jade: [00:26:51] That's self care. You mentioned this, I think in your Ted talk, about, basically prioritizing meaningful interactions.

[00:26:58]Ariel: [00:26:58] I'll do the small talk because sometimes you have to do that for a couple of minutes good stuff. So I'm willing to, to do that. And I'm really trying to be more friendly because like my intention is I really do love humans. I've intentionally changed my mind about this. Cause I used to be like, I don't really need people. I don't really care. Like-

[00:27:13] Jade: [00:27:13] I literally tweeted like that this morning, but then also like my entire life is dedicated to helping people and so it's like, what is this dissonance?

[00:27:21] Ariel: [00:27:21] I feel the same way. Like where I'm writing the songs. I care so much about what the listener thinks about the music. I so badly want people to come to their shows and like have their lives changed forever.

[00:27:30] you know, impossible standards.  But then often yes, on one-on-one in the past two or three years, I've really worked on talking and being friendly and really being willing for people to think that I'm being too friendly or even like uncool, willing look uncool and be too chatty.

[00:27:44] And I'm willing to go through, I'll go through that. Sometimes I'm willing to talk to a lot

[00:27:47] of

[00:27:47] people,

[00:27:47] to get to a good one.

[00:27:49] used to more wait for people to like strike up conversations with me. I've gone to a lot of networking events in Nashville now.

[00:27:55] Jade: [00:27:55] You were very good at it was like, I'm so glad you talked to me because I was around people 

[00:28:00] I didn't really know.

[00:28:01] Yeah. It's like one of us to do at first. Try to jump in little, increase my odds of finding the good ones.

[00:28:07]For the past, like since we met listening to your music and then also listening to your Ted talk, reading your book and everything. It really like, it sounds like you're narrating my life. It's weird, but also awesome. And it just goes to say that , If you don't talk about those things, like struggling with mental health and, you know, get real about those things, then you'll never find the people who can relate.

[00:28:29] Ariel: [00:28:29] You're exactly right. So those are risks, right? Like going, doing a Ted talk is a risk. It's a scary thing.

[00:28:34] Writing a book and having someone know more about you than you know about them. That's a weird risk, right. But if, I guess I've done that maybe in my professional life enough, maybe that's translated in my personal life where I'm willing to do. I really don't want to show up. One way in one space and another way in another space, which is why I mentioned like the touring thing. Cause it's like, am I showing up energetically on stage and more internally?

[00:28:57] Jade: [00:28:57] Well, I think I think that it's not that the sentiment behind your interactions with the crowd and then with the people on your bus is different. Like you're still this very same person.

[00:29:08] You're just, interacting a little bit differently based on, you know, taking care of yourself.

[00:29:13] Ariel: [00:29:13] Okay. I'll just tell them, you said that.

[00:29:14] Jade: [00:29:14] Exactly. And you tell them I'm a psych nurse. So I know what I'm talking about.

[00:29:18] Ariel: [00:29:18] Nurse Jade!  

[00:29:19]Jade: [00:29:20] So something that you talked about that really resonated with me was, having  depression for such a long time, such a large portion of your life, led you to developing skills, to compensate and you know, to be able to function in a neuro-typical world. And so it's given you these skills that other people don't necessarily have to build over time. The past year has been obviously very hard on everyone. People who have never struggled with mental illness in their whole lives are struggling.

[00:29:48] Ariel: [00:29:48] Welcome, guys!

[00:29:49] Jade: [00:29:49] Right!

[00:29:49] Ariel: [00:29:49] Here for you.

[00:29:50] Jade: [00:29:50] That's exactly it like, it's like, I feel like I'm welcoming them to my world. Like, Hey, let me make you some tea. We'll get through this. Like, here are the things that I've learned, you know?

[00:29:59] Ariel: [00:30:13] People used to be like, "Oh, wow. You're so real in your lyrics, you talk about mental health." But then it became very mainstream to talk about in music, particularly like there was that, you know, Logic suicide number song. I think that was a big part of it, which yay for awareness also let's handle things carefully.

[00:30:28]Just, you just can't be careless with this stuff. And sometimes people jump in and I, I get scared if I've got a whole song about this, it's called hollow and it's all about when being vulnerable about our mental instabilities becomes trendy, does that stop being helpful?

[00:30:40] It really freaks me out if we're all just sharing, like our raw vulnerable hearts, but none of us are doing anything about it. Who's going to help us if we're all fucked up? I don't know.

[00:30:49] Like it freaks me out. I love that we're not alone in our struggles, I feel like everyone's freaking depressed and has anxiety, almost all of us, right.

[00:30:58] There's like five normal people and they probably are like about to crack.

[00:31:01] Jade: [00:31:01] And I don't know them.

[00:31:02] Ariel: [00:31:02] I don't either

[00:31:04] I hate to quote my own song, but it says, "if crazy's the new normal, then it's not that crazy, is it?"

[00:31:09] Jade: [00:31:09] right? And so.

[00:31:10] Ariel: [00:31:10] if it just worries me, I don't know who's going to take care of all of us.

[00:31:13] Jade: [00:31:13] I totally get that. But then also my experience working in mental health as a nurse. And I've struggled with mental health. My whole life is that it helps me relate to my patients and really be able to put myself in their shoes. So I feel

[00:31:27] Ariel: [00:31:27] like, we struggle and we help

[00:31:28] Jade: [00:31:28] exactly,

[00:31:30]Ariel: [00:31:30] Yes. There's

[00:31:31] Jade: [00:31:31] that really, really helps. So I feel like over the pandemic, I've been like, Hey everybody, welcome to depression town.

[00:31:38] Ariel: [00:31:38] Yeah, it is true that I was able to, I feel like I have been able to live a better life because of it and get to better places that I would have. Maybe I'm justifying it to make myself feel bad about it, but that's fine. I can I can live in delusion then, but I will say that. I don't think COVID has been as hard for me as it would have been

[00:31:57] otherwise. And there was someone close to my life. Who's experiencing mental instability and depression for the first time and they're just wrecked over it and I'm sympathetic, but I'm mostly, yeah, but I'm kind of thriving in a way.

[00:32:08] Jade: [00:32:08] Me too. This are, this is freaking me out where the same person.  I think it's because for me, I think it's because, as a person who likes to help people. My work is cut out for me.  It's why I do well in like very stressful, crisis situations as a nurse is because when somebody else needs me to be the emotionally stable one, that is my jam absolutely rise to the occasion and it gets me out of my own head.

[00:32:33]And I feel like I've really been. Yeah, listening to my own thoughts and paying more attention. And self-care how do you feel like where you are right now? April 20, 21. How do you feel today as opposed to April, 2020?

[00:32:48] If you can think back.

[00:32:51] Ariel: [00:32:51] There was so much uncertainty then, and our brains hate uncertainty, We, we love knowing what we're going to do, having plans, not having chaos.

[00:33:00]This time last year I was in the studio. So in that way, that was great. I love getting to create and like express my, brain through music. My favorite thing but this year has been really hard. So it's, it's been weird. Like life is really sucky in a lot of ways right now.

[00:33:15] And yet I can look back and see all the good things situationally, like with the band and the album has been really great and I can look at my own life and I'm really thriving on my routines right now. Like I'm taking good of myself and eating healthy. Like I'm pretty stable. I would say. Who knows long that'll last though, now that I talked about it, I'll jinx it, you know. Something about the quiet of this year has been really lovely.

[00:33:38] I was able to tune out so much, like before I used to go out and Nashville all the time, I'd go to all these networking events. I would go and meet people and blah, blah, blah. And now it's like helped me look at all my friends and be like, do we have things in common? I don't know. You know?

[00:33:51] Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

[00:33:53] Just make sure that we're all like still in a good spot with each other and it all makes sense still. And it's been so nice too. It's really helped me hear my own inner voice. And it's given me confidence that I hope I'll be able to hang on to, to be really true to myself after this. Like I'm not thinking about what the cute thing to wear is and browsing Pinterest to see that and then hoping people like my outfit so it's kind of boil it down to the basics and I'm grateful for it.

[00:34:15] Jade: [00:34:15] Yeah, absolutely.

[00:34:16] Do you feel  like your level of creativity or, your motivation to create has been stronger during quarantine?

[00:34:24]Ariel: [00:34:24] I actually, haven't been operating on the principle of inspiration much for the last couple of years, which is really nice. It kind of takes away the mythical-ness of it. And if you've seen,  Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Eat, Pray, Love, she's got the best talk about it's called your elusive creative muse and all creatives need to watch it.

[00:34:40] It's so good. It talks about like how. It used to be believed that like your Daemon, which was like your genius, would come and land on you and bring you the creative idea. And so people couldn't take credit for their art because it was just like a gift from the gods.

[00:34:53] Jade: [00:34:53] and it was unpredictable

[00:34:54] Ariel: [00:34:54] Yes. Removes the ego part of it. You have no ownership and if you don't create, it's not your fault.

[00:34:59] Anyway, what I really loved in the last couple of years is. Knowing that I don't have to be inspired to create. I can create whenever I decide to. And I really just have this belief because it serves me. So I choose to believe that I have a well of art living inside my brain and my soul. And whenever I sit at the piano or get with my journal and write it out into a song, it always comes out.

[00:35:19] And so I just, I'm choosing not to believe in writer's block. 

[00:35:21]We used to write an album every three years or whatever. And currently we just made this album we've already been in the studio. There's more stuff. So I'm just. I'm just believing the pipeline's open and I can just access it whenever

[00:35:31] Jade: [00:35:31] Right!  Another thing that I loved that you said in, I don't even know if it was your book or your Ted talk, the concept of the tortured artist, I really loved what you had to say about that. Do you need to be a persistently tortured soul to create great art? I was wondering if you could tell us your thoughts on that concept.

[00:35:47] Ariel: [00:35:47] Yes. No you don't. I mean, I, well, I, I'm not gonna buy into that because I don't want that to be my reality.

[00:35:54] So, so many of us who first started to connect with music through depression, which is you know, a lot of times the music goes hand in hand with the emotion, which I love music is emotional. Hell yeah. I'm so into that. But that also means that we often get lost in it and it becomes connected in an unhealthy way.

[00:36:09] And I was really worried that I wouldn't be able to create music that people resonated with, if it wasn't coming from raw pain. And I love the overused quote of what does it write from your scars, not from your wounds.

[00:36:21] Jade: [00:36:21] I haven't even heard that

[00:36:22] Ariel: [00:36:22] Oh, it's like so cliche in the writer community, but it's pretty good. I know when I think about that all the time, like if I make a social post about my raw pain, I schedule it for two months from now.

[00:36:33] Jade: [00:36:33] That is brilliant.

[00:36:34] Ariel: [00:36:34] So that way I'm still like showing the honesty but it's, it's been processed by that and I can delete it before it goes out if I want to same thing with songs, I will write songs just for the exercise of processing pain, but those, I don't have any intention of ever releasing.

[00:36:47]So I like to have already processed it before I do a song about it. The way I think about songs is they need to have value in service beyond just someone listening to them and saying, I feel that that's great. I just don't care though. There's enough of feeling pain. Like if my songs is I feel pain and you listen to it and you say, "Oh my God, she gets me. She feels my pain." That's great. But like, we all feel pain that doesn't go anywhere!

[00:37:05] Jade: [00:37:05] Right.

[00:37:05] Ariel: [00:37:05] I need to be like, I feel pain. Like, and maybe there's another way.

[00:37:10]Track 1: [00:37:10] I don't want to use the cliche

[00:37:12] Jade: [00:37:12] Yeah, no, Listening to your music,  it reminds me of music that I would just let consume me when I was, especially when I was younger.

[00:37:20] Ariel: [00:37:20] Oh, good. The 14 year old self thing!

[00:37:22] Jade: [00:37:22] that's it!

[00:37:23]Like something that I struggle with. And I only recently have been able to listen to music that I loved back then  because it was like touching a hot stove.

[00:37:32]You know, I don't want to experience that pain ever again. And it's hard for me to listen to sad music in general sometimes, cause it's like, I don't want to live in that place.

[00:37:41] Ariel: [00:37:41] It's still raw

[00:37:42] Jade: [00:37:42] Yeah. But your music listening to it, it does have brutally, real lyrics about feelings and mental health

[00:37:49] but there also is such an overarching theme of hope, which I think is so powerful. And I love that you said that because I was literally texting my dad about it earlier. I'm like, listen to this music, like you're going to love it. And yeah, because it, it does bring that. Hope. Whereas I think a lot of music from when I was that age, which I still love, and I'm not slamming it at all, but it was just really like, I'm in this low, terrible place let's live here.

[00:38:16] Ariel: [00:38:16] Right. It's not useful. I don't know. I could talk for this forever, but, um, I, what I'm really interested in is how do we introduce hope in a way that isn't a turnoff or a cliche or just bullshit?

[00:38:27] Jade: [00:38:27] Disingenuous.

[00:38:29] Ariel: [00:38:29] And, you know, I grew up in a very religious family and I think of religious music that has this really like wrap up at the end. Like, "and now it's better!" And it's just,

[00:38:37] I, that's

[00:38:38] Jade: [00:38:38] hard to relate to.

[00:38:40] Ariel: [00:38:40] Yeah, that to me, that's not useful.

[00:38:42] Jade: [00:38:42] Like that relates to the toxic positivity, culture of, especially on

[00:38:46] Instagram is where I see it most often. I know the worst.

[00:38:51]Ariel: [00:38:51] I used to have like a video podcast on YouTube and I just did an episode about this as humans, how much we love extremes. And so we go from like the self-pity and the wallowing then cover it up with affirmations and convincing ourselves and everyone that life is better. And I think that's where it gets toxic is when we're not processing through and dealing with.

[00:39:10] And so to me, comforting the pain is how I process it. So the pain comes up all the time and then I sit with it and I talk to it gently and I personify it in the Ted talk, I talk about the little girl, the inner child, like that's been my jam for the last year, because otherwise it comes up and it's inflamed and it bites me in the ass. Like it comes through the back door and ruins my life if I don't deal with it. And so once a week or whenever I'm in a lot of pain and just listening to seeing, then I feel seen and comforted.

[00:39:36] And like, then It's like healing the parts one by one.

[00:39:40] Yeah.

[00:39:40] Jade: [00:39:40] Yeah. So the difference too, you're not ignoring what it is that led you to feel so low you're talking about the pain that brought you to that very low place, but then you have actively confronted it and worked to make it better.

[00:39:54] And that is so much more, I think, meaningful . And inspiring than being like, Oh, we're just happy.  Let's say it until it's true.

[00:40:03]   How have you noticed that your fan base and  the reception to your music has evolved over the years?

[00:40:31]Ariel: [00:40:31] You know, um, I engage with our fans a lot through live streams like that. Right now that's the only way we do do it. But from the beginning, it's always attracted like a little band of misfits. We've got our own little world of people going through various things.

[00:40:44] And whenever I meet, like, we also have recently been meeting like, you know, a doctor who's a fan, her like this. Person high up in some CEO boss company. I'm just confused. I

[00:40:53] Jade: [00:40:53] 30 year old nurse right here.

[00:40:55] Ariel: [00:40:55] Yes! It's, it's been interesting too, to not just attract people who feel the same way I do, but to attract people who are in these different walks of life that I wouldn't guess would relate to the music,  again, that freaks me out though, then like, Oh shit, we're all like, we're all in so much pain.

[00:41:10] I don't know how the human race is going to make it. Um, but yeah, we generally attract people who have struggled and now the people have been with us for 10 years.

[00:41:17]I wonder is our music's purpose to not need our music anymore at some point. Right.

[00:41:22] Jade: [00:41:22] I see what you're saying. Like the purpose of therapy is to not need it anymore?

[00:41:26] Ariel: [00:41:26] Maybe, I mean, I'm not trying to compare our music to therapy by any means, I but I, I want to keep connecting with fans. I want to have a lifelong relationship with them, but I don't want them to feel obligated, to stay in the same place just because we're writing. And I want every album to evolve in some way.

[00:41:41] And I don't really know how we do that.

[00:41:44] Jade: [00:41:44] I think that might just come with time and new experiences and writing from new places.

[00:41:49] Ariel: [00:41:49] I have to remind myself that my job is just to show up authentically, be present in the moment and that I don't have to save the world with the album, no it's, it's not going to do that.

[00:41:58] Jade: [00:41:58] Right. Yeah. And it's clear that people resonate with your authentic self and that I think that's wonderful. Working with teen psych patients I have never met a more astute group of people.

[00:42:10] People think that they don't notice things, but they can spot phoniness a mile away. And it's just, I think that authenticity is so much more sustainable.

[00:42:20] Ariel: [00:42:20] Yes. And it's powerful because I've got those people that I've seen who forged the path that are like, "Oh, you were authentic and vulnerable in a way that I would not have had the guts to be"

[00:42:28] and so if I can help other people live in this space of authenticity, because maybe I can give them an example of it.  That matters to me. More than being celebrated for authenticity. If you can help, inspire people to think about showing up in a certain way, because you're going first and doing it, like that's pretty cool.

[00:42:43] Jade: [00:42:43] Yep. Absolutely. The last thing I wanted to ask you is how do you feel the music industry as a whole, where do you think we have room for improvement to better support artists and gig workers when it comes to health or mental health?

[00:42:58]Ariel: [00:42:58] Well, I guess my head right away, it goes towards diversity first, accepting all types of people in the music space and not defining people based on their orientation or their gender.

[00:43:10]So many things we much more diversity. Um, But mental health. I don't know, it's effed up. Like I just told you, I'm trying to figure out health insurance right And there's great organizations like MusiCares, Music Health Alliance.

[00:43:22] Like when we're tapping into these resources, It's just complicated and hard. And I don't think the music industry owes us anything. I'm grateful for the resources that exist. I think conversations like this are important and powerful, you know, and I've been doing a lot of interviews this winter with the album, and it's been cool to notice the interview questions changing and becoming a lot more conscious and yeah, it's a lot less shallow.

[00:43:44] And it's much more like, what are we doing with the Black Lives Matter movement?

[00:43:48] They're asking a lot more, uh, interesting questions and I'm grateful for hopefully like human evolution as, as a whole is moving forward. And it's less about like, what's your favorite ice cream flavor?

[00:43:58] Jade: [00:43:58] Right, it seems like there's less separating the art from the artist. I mean and- 

[00:44:04] Uh

[00:44:04] Ariel: [00:44:04] That's what social media does, right? Makes people fall in love with the person, which I love, because that is longevity. That's like your career, right there. Like that's I love when I see, I dunno J-Lo and so many others like that are going to continue into their seventies and eighties, hopefully because people we're going to stick with them forever.

[00:44:19] And no, man at the A & R guy is going to pull them out and be like, you're irrelevant, you're done now. Yeah. I love that.

[00:44:26] Jade: [00:44:26] love that. Yeah, absolutely. And it's, it gives you guys so much more power over your own kind of destiny, as I guess, as creative people and

[00:44:33] Ariel: [00:44:33] yes. And it's just about showing up. I love the woman in their thirties and forties who are showing up and when I'm in my forties, I'll be like, I love the women in their fifties and sixties who

[00:44:41] Jade: [00:44:41] Right.

[00:44:42] Ariel: [00:44:42] It makes me feel like I can show up forever.

[00:44:44] Jade: [00:44:44] There's no expiration date.

[00:44:45] Ariel: [00:44:45] Duh.

[00:44:46] Jade: [00:44:46] Yeah! Yep. I just want to say thank you so much. I am so excited about your music. I've been sharing it with everyone. I know. Um, and everyone needs to check out your book, "Turning Your Pain Into Art"

[00:44:58] Did I get it right? "Turn Your Pain Into Art" and the TED Talk which is about, lovingly hacking your brain. I loved how they added "lovingly" because that makes it so much more like, like care for yourself. Be nice to yourself.

[00:45:12] Ariel: [00:45:12] Yes. Because I've gotten in trouble with hacking my brain from the like dominate way and it doesn't really work Thank you so much for having me and I hope everyone's listening is doing good and you can go eat a cupcake and drink some tea and love yourself. Okay. Bye!

[00:45:25] Jade Outro: [00:45:29] All right. That is it for my episode today, folks. Thank you so much for listening and I can't wait to bring you next week's episode recorded in The Legendary Sun Studio in Memphis with Crockett Hall and Graham Winchester. Oh, yeah, pal, we recorded in Sun Studio.

[00:45:46] You never know. Maybe you'll hear the ghosts of Johnny Cash, Elvis or Howlin' Wolf in the background, if you're really quiet and your heart is pure. Just kidding!

[00:45:56] They had told me multiple times that the place isn't haunted, even though I desperately wanted it to be. I hope you like this interview with Ariel, please check out her band's music under the name Icon For Hire, and do yourself a favor and check out her book in paper, digital or audio form at the links in the show notes. And don't forget about her spectacular Ted talk, which I think is a pretty good like preview to her book, if you're wondering what it's kind of about. That is all for me this week, folks. And remember to get your ding dang vaccines, please.

[00:46:28] Will ya? Will ya? Please. Thanks. I'll see you next week, for real this time. I swear. I'll be here next week.