Firstly, the article the guys at Daily Ent. Xpress did this week was much needed, but being a consultant in that field, was I shocked? No, the only thing that has shocked me is the amount of time it has taken for someone to come forward and talk about issue of substance misuse within the desi music scene.
Look, let’s not dress this up, the entertainment scene from Eric Clapton to Ant and Dec has always been drug & alcohol influenced. So, its not a surprise that 2nd/3rd generation Asians are now relating to songs about drugs, and as this site likes to remind us the Punjabi scene has a history of songs about afeem and alcohol. This is not a new thing, music has always given drugs/alcohol and provocative sexual behaviour an acceptable face.
If you are a parent reading this, then your kids will read social media and see updates/tweets from artists and communication from them daily, they possibly are more in touch with artists than you. Artists you are role models, like it or not, you are what so many people aspire to be.
Talking with Daily Ent. Xpress
Having communicated with Daily Ent. Xpress prior to me writing this, I noticed that most of the reaction to the guys was not about the well being of the person in the story but more questions of “who is it?” “do we know them?”
And that there highlights a serious issue from our community, we brush past the needs of the individual and look at our own agendas.
Let’s look at the article from yesterday and the two thing’s that leap out at me are “Lifestyle” and “environment”.
As a musician you are engulfed in the gig scene, late nights and weddings, each one of those scenarios have one thing in common, indulgence. Over indulging in food, alcohol and they then lead to irregular sleeping patterns which can lead to an indulgence of self medication, one of which is drugs, everything is linked. As a musician you also indulge in the need for attention, you want to be on point, you need to be firing, so you do what you can to get that adrenaline rush, as the crowd itself may not do it for you anymore, you need that high to be gratified. For most it can be controlled, for others it can’t.
A musicians lifestyle creates a perfect storm, you can justify late nights, you can justify time away everything that is irregular can be masked by music. The perfect storm is created by the acceptance of drinking alcohol, which can lead to the daily use of substances to aid the uplifting feeling it gives you. Any artists who thinks it is a weekend thing, look at your lifestyle, is it really just weekends, does Fri – Sun not just morph into 1? Monday and Tuesday maybe recovery but come Wednesday you are back on it planning for the weekend!
The biggest issue this article highlights and is something I see daily, and that is Stigma!
When a young kid starts out wanting to be a musician, they do not dream of a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol, they just want to make music, but the lifestyle becomes such when on the road it lends itself to access alcohol, drugs, many other vices and those who do escape that route are the lucky ones. I always remember a mate saying ‘I don’t want to be 30, drunk, playing dhol, not knowing what time im coming home’
It is stigma that stopped the guy in the interview coming forward before, and even now he touches on his parents and others not finding out, stigma within the community has claimed lives and we need to start seeing past it. Only then can we ensure we lose less and less people who are afraid of what others might say if they come forward. Lets get people talking!
People touch on the sangat, but is sangat a place to air these thoughts? The sangat and the virtual sangat are massive places and trust me when I say people will hide in the crowd, and not come forward in such places. Especially when you have groups going around saying they want artists killed for what they play and release, are you really going to open up to them in confidence? Look at a mutual aid, everyone wants to stop, no personal agendas.
So what is the best way forward?
We need more people from the scene or from society as a whole to come forward and talk about such issues, we need a face, we need to create a pathway. Peer to peer recovery is something we are lacking and we so desperately need it , we need people to sit with people and give them support in a controlled environment, away from any pressures and finger pointing. There are some fantastic services around that will help people, and they will understand what is happening with you and the family, but we also need people from the scene to come forward and be a voice.
Let this be a starting point, not just a conversation until the weekend!