(ProNewsReport Editorial):- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Feb 21, 2022 (Issuewire.com) – In the 2022 atmosphere of music, an artist is rarely viewed as an individual- they are a brand, an aesthetic, a figure-head for their sound. They are machines designed to create with cohesive consistency- a perfectly premeditated and exaggerated version of the human being behind it all. Some artists find this helpful, exciting even- a chance to perform in some way every day, expanding their creativity beyond music and into all forms of content creation. The pin-pointed calendars and stone-set branding can create a solid structure and sense of straight-line stability. For others, the new age of artistry can be absolutely detrimental- feeling suffocating, stifling, and painfully pressure-filled, taking away from the heart of the whole operation: the music itself.
Philadelphia-based pop artist Shelby has been on a journey to walk the fine line between both sides. Acknowledging the importance of a brand while not becoming one herself, understanding the importance of a social media presence while not being reduced to the split seconds shown, and striving for consistency without ensuring burnout. But this is a recent development for her- a result of hitting rock bottom first.
Shelby, originally a country singer-songwriter from Athens, Georgia, kept her music journey confined to her bedroom and cozy neighborhood bars for almost a decade. After being diagnosed at 19 with Bipolar Disorder, severe anxiety, and manic depression, a large portion of her formative years were spent learning to not only harness her illness- but to build a full, healthy, and happy life undefined by it. During her initial mental decline and diagnoses, Shelby was medically advised to leave her college as a sophomore and return home- an experience that left her feeling heartbroken and even more lost. She attempted to return to classes a year later, but still struggling to live with her illness, she was unable to finish the semester or maintain a full-time job due to her crippling anxiety and depressive states. At the time, the idea of a normal life, let alone a creative one seemed entirely out of reach.
Right on the edge of giving up, Shelby held onto the memories of her earlier life, knowing that happiness and creativity would come as they had before if she could fight her hardest for it. She decided to give her all to being reborn for herself, her loved ones, and her passions. Between trying new combinations of medications, embracing healthy lifestyle changes, and exploring spirituality, the artist found herself pouring into her spiral-bound notebooks and weathered Gibson and painting bigger dreams in her mind than ever before. At the age of 25, feeling more stable, confident, and creative than she could’ve imagined, Shelby took the leap from playing shows on her corner to chasing pop stardom and moved across the country to join fellow musicians in Denver, Colorado. She thought this would be the ultimate turning point for her happiness- but didn’t realize the crushing repercussions that would follow the glitter.
Creating her new sound and genre was liberating, a rush, an excitement in the air each day that she woke with new ideas. It was everything she dreamed of- until she actually released it. Finding moderate success with her first singles, she was overjoyed that others across the world heard her, felt her, saw her, but that soon became the problem- she couldn’t be unseen. She found herself working overnights and multiple jobs to afford marketing, new outfits, new hair, new make-up, new projects- but that physical burnout was nothing compared to the emotional toll of the content-creation. On the days she would normally rest, meditate, and sort her thoughts, she instead found herself scrambling to take the perfect photo, record the perfect reel, edit the perfect color scheme, and even then more hours spent stressing over networking, replying, financing, and researching how to play the game. She was scrutinizing every detail of her being, skipping more meals than she would admit, and becoming dependent on medications to sleep in the early hours of the morning. She was glued to her phone, lost in the identity that she created, and sending the health she fought so hard for up in flames. At a certain point, the unavoidable question arose- is success worth it? Did she love music enough to sacrifice herself? Could she have both- was it all or nothing?
It was the latter question that daunted her most. Did it have to be this way? Couldn’t she be an artist and a human being? Did her love for other hobbies diminish her love for music? Did her love for herself diminish her love for her career? She played scenarios over and over in her head, before deciding on the most simple and obvious answer: it didn’t matter. There were no more questions, only facts. She loved music. She loved her career. She loved fashion and journalism. She loved herself the most. As before, she decided to re-write her own story. She would have it all. No matter what advice the industry pushed on her, she would live her passions in her own way- even if it was for an audience of 1. After making changes such as cutting back on outside work, taking back time for herself, separating social media from present moments, and letting her art unfold naturally, she was surprised to find that she was more inspired than ever and her fanbase actually grew. Currently, she is working on what she calls a “genre-less” debut album, building partnerships with clothing brands she loves creating press releases for fellow artists and is once more looking forward to each new day.
Her advice to any upcoming artist struggling with mental health, time management, or identity is to understand that everyone has a different path to success. Regardless of what research and algorithms may suggest, there is no fool-proof, one-size-fits-all protocol. You already create your own music, your own lyrics, your own beats- what could be more sensible than creating your own reality? She believes artists are in their most creative flow-state when they are happy and healthy, and it’s important to remember that creativity is the reason it all began. Your art wouldn’t exist without you.
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