None can argue that the state of the world is dark, indeed. While the EDM community still reels from the tragic loss of Avicii, this week saw two more high profile creative lives end far too soon from suicide - iconic fashion designer Kate Spade and just today, beloved American journalist and chef Anthony Bourdain.
For years, mental health has stood as a taboo topic in many social circles. Finally, in the wake of such tragedies plastered across news at an ever-increasing rate, community leaders are taking a stand, and popular opinion appears to be shifting. We're being encouraged to talk, to not suffer in silence.
Today some of the biggest names in drum & bass are coming together and lending their talents to the cause, with the release of the Mind State compilation. With headliner acts such as Prodigy, Chase & Status, and more lending their iconic beats, these 17 exclusive tracks exist as a safe place to experience, feel, and connect. The striking LP came together honor of the brand new Getahead Festival, the first ever 24-hour festival to focus on mental health, wellbeing, and music - taking place in London on June 13.
I recently had the chance to sit down with the legendary Ben Verse, formerly of Pendulum, who spearheads this incredible campaign, to learn more about why speaking out for mental health is so close to his heart.
EM: How did the concept of Mind State first come about?
BV: I heard about Getahead Festival and wanted to do something via my contacts in drum & bass to help promote the festival and the causes it’s supporting. I approached Jenni and Max Linguistics with the concept of this compilation and along with the team at AEI they have made it possible. As a scene if we show unity we can collectively make a difference and by donating all proceeds to HMUK and Getahead, this is a way of showing as a genre we care and we’re willing to address the issues surrounding mental illness.
EM: Is there something sonically about drum & bass or dance music in general that you find to be particularly suited for this process of healing and coming together?
BV: I think like any form of dance music. it naturally brings people together. Also music is often the go-to means of escape for people who are really struggling with mental illness, so it definitely can help.
EM: For many, dancing and losing yourself in music is the ultimate escape from one's worries. Do you have personal experiences or memories from raving that this project recalls? Moments from your career where music was particularly healing?
BV: I’ve been on the road for the last 20 years, and this level of travel does take its toll. You can be completely exhausted but once the music starts you forget everything, especially stresses or anxiety. And for me it’s that feeling and energy release that you get from music that has kept me going and my sanity in tact.
EM: What advice do you have for artists or other music industry professionals who find themselves struggling with mental health issues? Where do you turn when your work is other people's escape?
BV: I think it’s important to have a balance in your life. If you burn the candle at both ends, something has to give. Moderation is key, everyone is human and everyone has a breaking point. If you travel for the whole weekend then spend the entire week in a dark studio for 20 hours nonstop, this eventually will make you ill. Try and put a few days aside mid-week where you can get some fresh air. Golf is a great way of clearing the mind / getting fresh air / stretching your legs. Or cycling is good also because it doesn’t put too much strain on your knees and back. Speak to people if you’re worried. Don’t bottle it up. If they’re worried about talking to their friends, they can call the Music Minds Matter Helpline (one of the charities we’re supporting). There is always someone there who will listen.
EM: What impact do you hope this project makes on our community?
BV: I really want it to raise awareness, money, and really bring the conversation about mental illness into the limelight. I want people to be proud of the artists involved and the generosity shown by everyone donating their music and their time.
EM: Can we look forward to Mind State: Volume 2?
BV: It’s all about getting this first edition as big as possible then... Yes! Curating Number 2 has to be the aim. Potentially in a different genre with a another set of amazing legends.
If you or someone you know is struggling, PLEASE reach out. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Hotline is available at 1-800-273-8255. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide are international resources providing information and connections to crisis centers around the world.