Guitarist, songwriter and producer Nick Tsang answers questions about his life as a musician and mental health.
Nick Tsang Q&A:
1. What's your name and what do you do?
My name is Nick Tsang and I’m a guitarist, songwriter and producer. I’ve been very fortunate to tour with The Backstreet Boys, Ed Sheeran, The Ting Tings, and Busted. I’ve co-written songs with Jess Glynne, Nina Nesbitt and Lewis Capaldi.
2. How long have you been a musician for?
I have been working as a musician for about 14 years.
3. What do you find difficult about being a musician and why?
For me personally, there is very little security in what I do. I can have an incredibly busy 5 months, and then have nothing booked for 3 months after. Employers can take advantage of the fact that a lot of deals are done through word of mouth, and so don’t keep their promises. Often work falls through.
4. Is there anything in particular that helps you to stay positive?
I find exercise is amazing for relaxation and resetting myself. And creating or playing music of course.
5. Does music help when you're having a tough time? If so, in what ways?
Making music is one of the best therapies. It gives you something to focus on and helps you forget about your worries in that moment. Also, writing or playing music can help release any emotions that you have bottled up, turning it into a beautiful piece of art. Nothing can beat the feeling you get at the end of it.
6. Is there anything about your job/lifestyle that you would change for the greater good of your mental health?
From doing many years of touring, it’s very easy to fall into the cliché cycle of boozing and partying every night. Also, trying to eat well on tour is hard, since most of the time it’s service stations with McDonald’s and Burger Kings. All of this may seem fun to begin with, but it takes its toll very quickly on your health and mental wellbeing, and before you know it the only way to feel good again is to drink and eat junk food. Being aware of this now, I make a very conscious effort to eat well, exercise and cut down on drinks when I’m on tour.
7. Do you think mental health is spoken about enough amongst musicians, artists and in the industry? If not, why?
It is a huge surprise to me that musicians and mental health is not more of an open topic, since I know so many musicians and artists that suffer from anxiety and depression due to their jobs. It is such a competitive industry in every field, and I think everyone feels the need to present the best versions of themselves at all times in order to find work. I also think some musicians are probably scared of opening up about their mental health in case they lose their jobs.
8. If you could give a piece of advice to up and coming musicians/artists, what would it be?
You will have many rejections in the industry, so don’t take anything personally. It is such a rollercoaster ride with many false hopes and ups and downs. It’s all about persistence and sticking with it. If you do this, the good stuff will eventually happen. Also, I’ve learnt to not have unrealistic expectations of a person or situation. That way, you’re protecting yourself from any disappointment, and anything good that happens will be a bonus.
9. What is one song that has always had a positive effect on you?
It’s hard to name one song, but listening to artists such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Rage Against the Machine reminds me of my teenage years when I loved music in its purest form, without the pressure of it also being my work.