• Phoebe Gardner

Interview with Elias; depression and progression in the music industry

Updated: Oct 15, 2019

Elias Traynor is an up and coming 21-year-old producer/DJ based near Bristol. The music he makes is predominately drum n bass and hip-hop.

Elias’s room, a converted shed that is also his studio, is in the middle of the Wiltshire countryside. Windows all around his room give a 360-degree view of the hills and streams circling his house. Elias is a close friend of mine, I’ve had the pleasure over the last couple years to see him grow and flourish, but also face huge struggles mentally and physically which he’s dealt with through music.

He welcomes me warmly, giving me a hug while simultaneously handing over a cup of tea. I compliment his new haircut as we sit down opposite each other, he instinctively ruffled his dark brown hair as I mentioned it. Spinning around on his office chair with his equipment on the desk behind, Elias rolls a cigarette. The smoke drifts upwards, the sun from the large windows cuts through it, the room is engulfed in sparkling light.

Elias has played at some of the most well-known clubs in the South West such as Motion in Bristol, Bath's Moles and has just co-created a record label with his friends.

After finishing his cigarette and a quick catch up we start to talk about music. I ask how he decided that this is what he wants to do, immediately he started sheepishly laughing, “It’s quite embarrassing, I don’t really have any big influences that drew me to this. I came into music because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I finished school and chose to do it at college, it kind of just clicked and went from there.”

“Originally I was in and out of DJ-ing and production, and when I got more into music I realised there was a lot more to it. It wasn’t necessarily so black and white. You could do both, performing while DJ-ing but still playing an instrument using equipment such as launch pads, like the ones Jamie XX uses.” Launch Pads are a new piece of electronic music equipment that lets you control multiple things at the same time.

In 2015, Elias suffered a life-changing accident whilst working part-time at a recycling yard to earn money to fund his music. As the lawsuit against his previous boss is still ongoing I cannot name the company for legal reasons. His right arm was caught in a crusher and nearly had to be amputated, he still suffers from severe nerve damage and has been diagnosed with PTSD as a result of the accident.

Elias has spent the last two years making music as he was unable to do anything else, gradually the nerves in his arm have grown back but his movement is still limited. He talks about how music helped him cope “I would have had nothing to do. Especially being friends with who I was with at the time I would have gotten heavily into drugs, which would have made things a lot worse.” Elias now hardly drinks and hasn’t done hard drugs in years. “With my record label (The Chikara Project) I can hang around with who are also aware of this industry’s relationship with substance abuse, like Dan, (another DJ known as Third Degree) doesn’t drink anymore. They’re straight edge but also in the same industry, keeping me busy really. Otherwise, I would probably be doing lines right now.”

Recently many big DJs, such as Benga, Motor City Drum Ensemble and Avicii have come forward about suffering from severe depression, anxiety, and others over drug addictions, a couple DJs have consequently either prematurely ended their careers or issued statements about the pitfalls of being an international DJ. Elias nods exaggeratingly, “It’s a very big thing. Especially as drugs are so freely available, the people who are in charge of looking after you, the people who pick you up from the airport, make sure your fed before gigs, they can get you anything and can get it for you for free – It’s basically being strong enough to say no.

The lack of sleep I can imagine wears you down, it wears you down just making your own music when people don’t like it.”

Elias discusses the cons he’s faced as a producer “because it is quite close to you, because you created it, you can become quite closely attached to what you make. Criticism can be quite a hard thing to take, even if you’re a laid back person I believe it still gets to you.”

We take a breather, Elias rolls another cigarette and one more cup of tea is made. The sun was setting, a crisp, thin fog rolled across the fields.

Walking back into his studio we continue, “although, of course, there are pros; You get a rush every time you release a song, a producer you really look up to likes your music, when you get support from people that listen to you. Knowing what you want to do and being able to do it. Also, not being stuck in an office job.”

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