Burnout: What musicians in 2019 are ‘perpetually terrified’ about

As Sam Fender steps off stage at TRNSMT festival in Glasgow he’s completed a run of three shows in as many days.

“I did a hometown gig in Newcastle, then played with Bob Dylan and Neil Young in London and then came here,” he tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

“I’m dead,” he says with a smirk on his face.

Sam says he’s constantly pinching himself over how lucky he is, but is also “perpetually terrified” of not being able to keep up with his schedule.

“The music industry as a whole needs to genuinely make a conscious effort to look after people’s physical and mental health.”

‘We just didn’t stop’

Sam was recently forced to cancel a string of gigs, including a show at Glastonbury, after he “burned out”.

“We just didn’t stop.

“I love my job, I’m going to keep doing it until I die, but there’s nothing more soul-destroying than having to cancel a show.”

Sam took a break to rest his voice but thinks he’s “completely annihilated it in the last three days”.

“Fingers crossed when I get a check up on Monday it’ll be alright.”

Musicians burning out “is an age old story”, Sam says, but social media and feeling like “you have to be on top all the time” adds extra pressure on the mental health of modern artists.

“Back in the day, you could have a crap gig and nobody would film you.

“Now everybody’s got an iPhone – you have a bad day and it’s going on the internet.”

The 25-year-old says it’s easy to become vain as a musician.

“It’s so vacuous this job.

“You’re constantly looking at pictures of yourself, talking about yourself. Then I come back home and all my mates want to talk about is me because I’ve been hanging out with Elton John and stuff.”

Sam loves his job, but also craves “normality”.

“I just want to talk about my cousins you know, that sort of thing, ask how they’re doing at school.

“You’ve got to have a bit of time to go back home and try and be normal and talk to people about normal stuff.”

‘I needed to look after my mental health’

“Yeah, 100% social media is not a nice world,” agrees Tom Grennan.

The singer took time off touring and his phone to focus on writing music for his second album.

“I was like, ‘I’m going to have to consciously think, how do I write the best album I can? To do that I’m going to take myself away from social media’.

“And since then I’ve been in the studio and I’ve been writing some of the best stuff I’ve ever written, I’ve got about 80 new songs!”

Tom doesn’t want to seem ungrateful and knows he’s in a “very, very lucky position”, but he needed some time away before stepping back into the limelight.

So he moved back home with his parents and took a break from music.

“I’ve been trying to keep a healthy mindset. I sound like I’ve become a yoga guy. But it’s important that I look after my mental health to make the next album the best it can be.”

“I just had to calm myself down and put myself back on a path of success,” he added.


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