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Swimming too far from the Shore: Reflections from Dolan Hewison from The New Fast Automatic Daffodil

As often happens with the interviews, the real depth gets explored after or before the tape is rolling!

In this coming week’s Tonic Music radio show, Dolan talks me through the band’s rise to fame and how he always remained grounded throughout the late 80’s Manchester scene. He talks about how he knew, early on that he wasn’t drawn to the magnetic pull of being a ‘star’ or the fame game as it were. In the episode, (released on Friday) we talk at length about the allure of success, being recognised and dancing the celebrity tango.

From my own experience there is a part of me that was drawn to being ‘known’ or fame (as some may put it), but ultimately this yearning always lands on shaky territory and can never really last. Almost like a drug, I most definitely needed more of at certain times of my own life. This was undoubtedly drawn from my own insecurities and life experiences in my formative years leaving me with a certain need for something outside of myself. As I approach my middle years (maybe, I’m actually in them!) this is something I no longer give any importance to due to carrying a much greater awareness of who I am, and what I am, thankfully.

As a ‘musician-centric’ clinician this is always a place of rich exploration with other musicians. I often pose the question ‘so who are you?’ outside of who people think you are? A big question but a necessary one for us all to ask even if we’re not musicians.

Getting back to Dolan, one thing that has resonated with me was his concept of how many musicians that have had success, end up swimming too far from shore and struggle to get back. By this, he meant how we move away from our friends and the anchorage of normal life but often struggle to get back once we have experienced such a shock wave to our psyche.

Having record label praise, fans, gold discs, adulation, and being heralded as icons, it’s a deceptive, lustful endeavour. This is, of course, is easier to manage if our success stays on the same trajectory but for most of us it wanes at some point, thus we are left ‘bobbing in the sea’ of not quite being back home or not quite being on the sunny island of success that we inhabited at certain stages of our lives. It can be brutal but it does give us the chance to work out who we are underneath the commoditised world!

I can’t claim this metaphor as my own but can most certainly identify as a musician and a clinician! It can be both a brutal and glorious industry but we need a boat or a Tonic of sorts!

If you want to read more about how musicians understand their industry experience, checkout my latest academic paper (It’s not as boring as it sounds).


Adam Ficek hosts a monthly show 'Tonic Music' on Totally Wired Radio, where he talks to various guests about music and mental health. You can listen again to any of the previous show on the Tonic Music Mixcloud page.


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