Figuring out who you are as an artist is generally a liberating, however grueling, endeavor. It is a constant challenge to outwardly express the person you feel you are inside in some way that feels true.
Usually, it happens by accident, and just as you’re about to throw in the towel. But, once you’ve had a taste of all that you can be, you’re almost always caught in a perpetual loop.
Truthfully, it’s hardly ever magic. But, when it’s good, it’s really good. And, before you know it, you’re spending what seems like all of your time in a choreographed lockstep with your own merciless thought habits, trying to avoid raging anxieties that slowly and deliberately turn surface level insecurities skin deep, and clamoring to get back to that transient place where everything last clicked and you’ve never felt more alive.
Oh yeah, the artist life offers much by way of soaring momentary highs and equally potent soul-crushing lows. But, no matter where we find ourselves on the spectrum of all-consuming joy to total self-destruction on any given day, something in our makeup keeps us coming back for more.
For Aiden Myers that investigation of self began early in life, however, it took nearly 20 years and a complete breakdown in order to finally bloom.
Captured so completely on his debut release, Overthinking, which sets lo-fi electro-pop flourishes against a backdrop of deep, vibey R&B beats, bumpy drops, and weighty, autobiographical lyrics that explore the nuances of Myers’ own experiences with anxiety, depression, paranoia, indecision and self-doubt, the EP sees him wearing his past struggles like a badge of honour and delivering a collection of songs that are at once both tender and agonizing.
“I always try to write from personal experience,” says Myers. “I write when I feel anything or need to feel something; I think people respond to honesty. At the end of the day, you can go ahead and write a pop song, but if it’s not real, people will see through it. If you come from a place that feels true to you, people can hear and feel that in a record.”
Executive produced by Billboard charting artist Kayla Diamond (Slaight Music), with additional production by Joel Stouffer (Serena Ryder, Dragonette), Giordan Postorino (Karl Wolf, JRDN), and long-time collaborator Nimz, Overthinking, which was recorded while Myers was in the throws of a manic episode, is truly the sound of an artist finding beauty in his own breakdown.
“Right when we got the funding to start recording the EP, I had a horrible nervous breakdown,” he says. “I didn’t leave my house for two months. I became agoraphobic. I couldn’t drive and I was having these horrible panic attacks. It was a very low point in my life. I just felt like we had all of these songs that we had written over the past little while and suddenly I didn’t know what I wanted out of them or what they were meant to sound like or who I even was as an artist.
“I developed this real love hate relationship with my music during that time. My mind was going a million miles a minute trying to process everything, including things I couldn’t control like what would happen after the EP was finished. I knew I wanted to do it but I had no drive––I was totally terrified.”
But, Myers got through it. He and his team decided to make the entire record in his basement so that he wouldn’t have to leave the familiar comfort of his home in order to make the sessions, and what they came out with was something that is intensely personal.
“I started seeing a therapist and got on medication,” explains Myers. “In the end it’s really about getting the help you need and talking to people.”
Naturally, advocacy and mental health awareness has become an integral accompanying aspect of Myers’ music. A desire to offer a helping hand or serve as a sounding board for others who are fighting their own individual battles, has led him to foster a real sense of community with his fans across his various social networks.
“I’m super open about mental health on social media and I get so many DMs from people saying how scared they are to talk to people, even their parents or loved ones. As someone who has dealt with anxiety and depression my entire life, I just really want people to know that it's okay to be vulnerable.
“I want my music to be a voice for those who are too scared or too proud to have one. I know I can’t end the stigma worldwide, but if I can help a handful of people by writing or talking about it and keeping that openness and that feeling of community going online, it’s like a chain reaction or a butterfly effect.”
And, people are listening.
Myers’ connection with his fans has already propelled his early music (“Keep My Sweater” remix, “Something About You” and “Other Than Me”) to achieve some 2 million streams across all platforms. Additionally, his songs have reached the Top 20 on the Viral 50 Canada Spotify chart, and been added to several major playlists including ‘Time to Dance,’ ‘Hot Hits Canada’ and ‘New Music Friday’.
“This new EP is for anyone who feels alone, or thinks that no one else has experienced what they’re experiencing,” says Myers. “I’m here to say, ‘I understand’ and ‘I know it’s so damn hard’. I just hope they feel that when they listen to my music.
Overthinking is truly an astounding artistic accomplishment. A musical documentation of Myers’ breakdown and conversely an extension of it, every fear, uncertainty, and gasp for air that became imprinted on his being through the process is present in between the notes and the words of his songs. Serving, for him, as both an emotional release and a rebirth following total destruction, Overthinking is proof that sometimes you have no choice but to take on the storm and allow yourself to be seen in your nakedness, in order to become the artist you've been all along.
Overthinking is due out summer 2019.