Autumnboy dropped his new single ‘Nothing Hurts When I’m Asleep’ on September 22nd – which just happens to be the first day of autumn (see what he did there?). The track gives a brief but intense look into his ongoing struggles with mental health. While having gritty and honest lyrics about the pain felt in bouts of depression, Autumnboy even still seems to give a slightly hopeful spin on his lyrics. We caught up with Autumnboy for a chat about the track, mental health & inspiration.
How did Autumnboy first come to life?
Back in the summer of 2016, a friend of mine sent me a song by nothing,nowhere. It quickly sent me into a rabbit hole of getting into a ton of music in the “emo rap” genre. Being so enamored by this new style I really wanted to try it out myself! Because I made my own demos in my bedroom and released them on Soundcloud anyway it was fairly easy to get into the swing of it. Within the space of a year, it went from being something I was just doing for fun to something that was a serious project. When I wrote my first record, I didn’t really even have the intention of playing shows, so it’s really cool seeing how its panned out as times gone on.
Lyrically, a lot of what you’ve written is super open about your own mental health – is that something you’ve always wanted to do with music you create?
Absolutely. It wasn’t always intentional, but I’m a very expressive person and always gravitated towards expressive music. The first time I sat down and actually wrote lyrics was at the age of 14 and it was about an abusive experience I’d endured. It’s always come fairly naturally to me. Honestly, I find it hard to write about anything that doesn’t come from a space of expressing some level of grief or hope within it. What’s beautiful about that though is the more I learn about the different mental health issues I have and the more I process them, the more I can be intentional about what I write and the more I can use that as a vehicle to benefit the lives of others.
Do you find creating music particularly helpful as a way of dealing with the bad days?
Yes and no. There are some days when being able to create something from my pain is a beautiful catharsis, and I’m able to share it with people and it brings me joy that I’m truly able to express what I’m dealing with (that’s how I feel about this single honestly. Alternatively, there can be a lot of pressure making music at times. It’s easy to want to make things perfect, and when I can’t it can cause me some stress and anxiety. That being said, I know that it comes from a mindset where I’m maybe comparing myself too much to others, so this is something that could change over time! Comparison is the thief of joy!
Is there anything else you find helpful if you’re struggling?
My therapist has taught me some really dope distress tolerance skills in our sessions. One thing that I think is really cool is that deep breathing actually scientifically calms you down, like when you breathe in your diaphragm stimulates a nerve that sends signals to your brain to calm down! Which I think is absolutely amazing. It’s done me a lot of good when things feel a little too much. Despite it being a small starting point, it then clears my head a bit more to be intentional with my thoughts and consider all the things that I’m feeling and why!
I also find a large level of comfort in prayer. As a Christian, remembering that God is sovereign and is with me in my pain is something that really changes my mindset, especially when things are rough. I find that when I start praying, more often than not it makes a big difference.
What was the inspiration behind Nothing Hurts When I’m Asleep?
It came from a very low place. I have something called Borderline Personality Disorder. It takes quite a while to explain it normally. So, to try to keep it simple, it means that I feel things more intensely than most people. My emotions can change very quickly, and it can be really hard to pull myself out of the tunnel vision of that emotion/mindset. I also have anxious/depressive tendencies, so pairing the two together can make for a pretty vicious combo. I wrote the majority of the lyrics out of a time like this, the entire world felt grey and because of my BPD, it felt like it could potentially be that way forever.
When I came back and rewrote the instrumental for it, it was an interesting experience. Because when I’m in a bit of a happier headspace, I’m aware that I’ve been that low and that I can get that low, but I almost forget what it’s like at times. So, it almost became a looking glass into how bad things can get and a space to remember how I felt at that specific time. Its purpose from when I first started writing it to when I finished had shifted a bit, and I think that’s pretty cool.
Watch the video for Autumnboy – Nothing Hurts When I’m Asleep [Contains flashing images]
You’ve said before that you hope people can connect with your music & the message in it – who are the artists that you’ve connected with, and have inspired you?
First and foremost, it has to be Linkin Park. ‘Hybrid Theory‘ is a timeless classic and really touched me as a kid. I’d never heard people express themselves like that before and it was to me at the time, the coolest thing I’d ever heard.
Being As An Ocean also had a massive impact on me. I found them not long after coming to faith, the Dear G-d record beautifully articulated struggles within faith and mental health. It was something that I really needed at the time and I’m incredibly grateful for it. I’ve actually seen them more times than I can remember now. Their live show is always really cool because their singer Joel is so intentional in his performance and interactions to make people feel loved and included. It’s something I really aspire to be like as an artist.
The most recent artist to really touch and inspire me is nothing,nowhere. On top of being inspired by the style of music itself as I mentioned earlier. I feel like he really expresses himself with a brutal honesty that I love. I gravitated towards it straight away. I’ll always be an emo kid at heart, so nearly everything about what he does resonates with me.
Have you got a message for anyone reading this who might be struggling right now?
I love you. It’s okay to feel a lot, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I know that it might seem like everything sucks, but I promise that things can get better. YOU have the capacity to get better. Don’t be afraid to reach out to get help, whether it’s from a loved one or a professional.
I love you, God loves you, and my DM’s are open if you want someone to talk to.
Where can we find out more about Autumnboy and your music?
The central hub for everything I do is autumnboy.net. You can find my music, videos, upcoming shows, merch and more info about me there. If you want to follow what I do on social media, my username on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook is @autumnboyx (I use Instagram the most though).
Autumnboy – ‘Nothing Hurts When I’m Asleep’ is out now via Beth Shalom Records.