The world of mental health is an area the entertainment industry is still having a hard time coming to terms with. The long touring days and excessive partying, paired with pressure to be successful with each project can be a major stressor for those in the business.
For Slovenlie, the issues arose a little earlier in her life, and she's now become an advocate for prioritizing mental health. With her latest track "Ritual" highlighting the difficulties she's faced, we sat down with the artist to learn more about OCD.
Hi Slovenlie, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. You've been outspoken about your issues, your ideologies, and everything else in-between. What prompted you to be outspoken about your OCD?
I don't really think of it as being outspoken, just honest. For years I thought I was insane and when you try to talk about mental health to people who don't have those issues, you can come out feeling isolated and alone. It was only when I went to talk to an actual psychologist that I realised how completely fucking normal I was. He told me how common depression actually is, as well as a whole host of other 'disorders' that people in all walks of life are dealing with on a day to day basis. When you suddenly realise that that weird secret you've been keeping is actually something you share with thousands of other people, that whole embarrassment issue just slips away. I went from feeling very broken to feeling very comforted just by learning that I'm not on my own.
Your song "Ritual" deals with your mental health straight on. Were you nervous about the reception over the song, and now that it is out, how do you feel about the songmaking experience?
I've long since stopped caring what people have to say about my mental health, so it didn't bother me particularly what kind of reaction that people might have to the subject matter. I don't talk about my OCD to people as it's such a weird thing to try to explain, but it felt good to vent about it with lyrics. At the time of writing ‘Ritual’, I was suffering so badly with my OCD and other things, so it felt therapeutic to release some of that anguish in writing. The vocal in the final track is comped from about 3 loops I did of the entire track, just singing whatever came to mind. I love recording like that as I'm not over thinking. Then when it comes to editing it's brilliant because everything comes at you sounding fresh and I can chop and edit almost like it's somebody else's voice. When you work entirely on your own it can be hard to keep perspectives fresh, so that was a great way to work.
People are still having a hard time discussing mental health in the entertainment world in general. As someone who is becoming one of the most vocal faces, do you see major issues within the industry that needs adapting? How does an entire industry confront something that is so prevalent in its members (despite it seemingly being dealt with secretly)?
There seems to be an imbalance between those who are too afraid to talk about it and those who use it for attention in a 'look how fucked up I am' kind of way. The reality is that antidepressants and such medications are one of the most widely prescribed medicines around – being depressed is actually pretty normal. In other words, having mental health issues doesn't mean you're fucked up, so it's time we stopped treating the issues as something to be ashamed of.
Beyond that, you're an advocate for Greenpeace and animal rights. With the US about to bring on a climate change denier as the new head of the EPA, what are things everyday citizens can do to help bring climate change and animal well-being into our own control?
It's difficult to answer that question because both of those subjects tend to provoke heating and aggressive debates from people who are passionately divided. In my opinion, a starting point for positive change would be to take responsibility for our actions and forge deeper connections with our individual ethics. I believe the will to be a good person resonates within everyone, that it's a basic impulse. I find it hard to believe that people can honestly look at destructive behavior and practices and feel nothing. We all have our vices, but empathy is a sign of intelligence, and therefore causing intentional harm is only an act of asininity. Only foolish people will defend wrongdoing. To those who claim they don't care... well, to be without humanity must be sad and very lonely for you.
Being passionate about any environmental or animal welfare issues usually means being drawn into a debate of 'my opinion vs yours'. It's the same attitude seen time and time again on social media, and it creates such an unhealthy environment for change. The best way to make a difference is to be educated on the issues that you care about and make logical decisions. At the end of the day, if you're an intelligent adult, you should be making decisions that take into account matters beyond your own selfish needs.
We heard that you're working on a music video in Finland. What else can we expect from you in 2017?
This year I'll be taking the reigns with the visuals. Last year I was fortunate in being able to work with some brilliant creatives on videos and artwork, and it was great being able to creatively vent and get my ideas out without having to worry about the technical side of things. However, I'm fiercely controlling over the way I make music (i.e., nobody fucking touches the tracks except for me) and so it makes sense that I should be as fanatical over the other aspects of my artistry. I have clear visions in my head for what I want, just like with my music, so this is a natural step to fulfilling the vision that I have in my head. I shouldn't have to hide behind anyone or feel dependent.
When it came to deciding what to do for this video I knew it had to be in Finland. It's one of my favourite places on Earth at this time of year where the temperature can drop into the -30's and there's a chance of the Northern Lights. The fjell we're filming on also runs off green power, so from an artistic and environmentalist point of view, it really doesn't get more perfect.