Saxophonist and vocalist Sam Adams answers questions about his life as a musician and mental health.
Sam Adams Q&A:
1. What's your name and what do you do?
Sam Adams – saxophonist and vocalist.
The Dualers / Gold Steppers / some function band and tribute band work.
2. How long have you been a musician for?
For about 26 years – professionally for 10.
3. What do you find difficult about being a musician and why?
Managing self-progression – there isn’t always enough time to fit in what I want to work on to improve. When I focus on one aspect of my musicianship, I can feel anxious that I’m not addressing other things. It is easy to get anxious when looking at what others have achieved, especially on social media.
Travel – also, waiting around after a sound check. The experience is tiring, draining and can get a little boring, so I often end up drinking too much.
Managing professional relationships with other musicians and admin people – everyone is different and has their own views and personal direction. Some individuals have their own agendas, whilst others are overtly self-obsessed and want things done their way.
4. Is there anything in particular that helps you to stay positive?
Enjoying the process rather than looking towards to the end goal.
Taking time out on other things in your life so you have a balance.
Approaching work (practice/composing) in small chunks, and trying to keep distractions very limited during this time.
Exercise / reading.
Talking face-to-face rather than texting.
5. Does music help when you're having a tough time? If so, in what ways?
Yes. It takes your mind away from worries and stress. Often, whilst performing, you’re thinking of nothing but communicating and being at one with the other musicians. It allows you to be creative. It also helps you to make sense of something that may have been traumatic through the creation of music.
6. Is there anything about your job/lifestyle that you would change for the greater good of your mental health?
Better diet and more exercise.
7. Do you think mental health is spoken about enough amongst musicians, artists and in the industry? If not, why?
Mental health isn’t spoken about enough. It is still classed as a sign of ‘weakness’ or as an inconvenience to the progression of a band or production.
8. If you could give a piece of advice to up and coming musicians/artists, what would it be?
If a situation doesn’t feel right, trust that gut feeling and ask other people about it before making a decision. If you don’t address anxiety, it will accumulate and start to chip away at your wellbeing.
Don’t react straight away if you’re upset by something said about you, especially online. Take time to calm down before responding – sometimes it is best not to react at all.
You are going have challenging situations. If you need time away from a situation, then take it. Tell others how you feel.
In stressful situations, you have to ask yourself honestly if it’s worth it. If not, walk away – another opportunity will come along.
Lastly, always make music for the right reasons. Make music for the love of music.