As An Artist One Of The Most Beautiful Things Is Getting To Use My Voice To Talk About Mental Health And Fight The Battle Against Stigma

With Music Artist and Mental Health Advocate, Stolar

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“Beneath all anger and fear is love waiting for you. Sometimes less important to focus on “loving” and more important to learn how to dissipate the anger and fear. We are all built to love.”

I had the pleasure to interview Stolar, an artist and a songwriter out of New York City. He is currently in the midst of an 18 month project called Raw Emotions, where he releases new music and explores different emotions every month. His recent cuts include the new Interscope Aloe Blacc release — “Brooklyn In The Summer” and the recent Train/Hall and Oates collaboration “Philly Forget me Not”. Stolar is also a proud mental health advocate, speaking and performing internationally for organizations like NAMI, JED Foundation and Demi Lovato’s Be Vocal to help cure the stigma surrounding mental health.

Thank you so much for joining us! What is your “backstory”?

I was born in New Jersey. I started playing piano when I was 5 and then wrote my first song in the 3rd grade. Shortly after I started singing and writing nonstop and it’s all I’ve ever done. Freshman year of college I had my first true manic-depressive period and hit rock bottom.
 I was one of the lucky ones and found a great therapist/psychiatrist who was able to help me find my way from being dominated by my emotions, to being able to use them as mental health super powers. There’s a lot more to my backstory but that is a good ol’ overview.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

Last year I took my first trip to Joshua Tree, CA. I turned my phone off for 4 days, went hiking, talked about life with friends, and did what I call “digs” 3 times a day. Essentially I turn on a voice recorder on my iPhone and improvise melodies and lyrics for 10 minutes.
 The idea is to bring up deep subconscious emotional ideas that I don’t really “want” to talk about. 2 days after the trip in LA I wrote a song with a new friend called “Brooklyn in The Summer”. It was a very personal song to me and I decided to not to share it widely, and just keep it to myself. There was a big part of me that didn’t think the song was good and that people weren’t going to like it because it was so personal. A year later, multi-platinum artist Aloe Blacc recorded the song and it’s his biggest release in 4 years. The song talks about deep, uncomfortable things and I think it’s so interesting that it’s the songs that are the most personal and real, not the sugar coated ones, that resonate the most.

What would you advise to someone who wants to emulate your career?

My advice would be “Don’t emulate anyone’s career :)” Follow your passion, your instincts, work hard and find your own voice in what you do. That, plus perseverance, will result in the right path for YOU. Every artist, entrepreneur or creator has their own trajectory. I personally believe we can’t really control it either, it’s going to take its own course. We can guide, learn, fight for what we love and find a path that is undoubtedly “ourselves.”

Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?

A good friend of mine had a life threatening heart surgery at 23 years old. It was very scary and he handled it with such authenticity and bravery. When he was scared, he talked about it, when he needed to be strong, he conjured strength. On my hard days, the ones where I can’t possibly fathom why I put myself through the pains of being an artist, I’m inspired by him, his strength and flexibility. He helped put life in perspective for me.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Are you working on any meaningful or exciting non profit projects?

As an artist one of the most beautiful things is getting to use my voice to talk about mental health and fight the battle against stigma. I have gotten to speak and create art on behalf of some truly inspiring organizations, from the Jed Foundation, to NAMI, to Demi Lovato’s Be Vocal organization, to Head Talks in the UK and many more. Stigma around mental health is very real and affects everything from suicide to school shootings. It’s going to be a life journey, but I’m here to keep helping inspire people to speak loudly about
 their experiences and change the stigma around mental health globally. Artistically I have a project called Raw Emotions where I explore a new emotion every month, collaborate with artists in different mediums and release a song that is connected to the emotion.
 This is my way of speaking up everyday and challenging myself to be open and honest.

Wow! Can you tell me a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

One thing I do love about social media is getting to connect and communicate with so many people and hear their stories. Recently I got a message from a girl saying “I’m bi-polar too 🙃”. It was so beautiful, she had not spoken about this before and Raw Emotions inspired her to open up. It’s these little moments that mean so much to me. I also got a note once from a girl who was being abused in a relationship and she told me that one of the songs gave her the strength to leave her partner and build a new life. These moments remind
 me how important it is to speak loudly about all these issues.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1. Throw away the word perfect, it will only lead to self criticism and sub par work. The times I’m hardest on myself are when I’m trying to “perfect” something that is meant to thrive in all of its imperfections.

2. It’s all gonna work out eventually so don’t miss life by worrying. My only regret is missing out on love that was right in front of my eyes but i couldn’t see it because I was worried about other things in my art or career. It’s not worth it.

3. If anyone tells you that they know exactly how to write a “hit song”, run for the door. It’s a toxic mentality. Write songs everyday. Trust your instincts. And put so much love into the ones you believe in. At the end of the day those inspired songs will most likely cut through all the noise. But sometimes there are factors in life we can’t control like timing or culture. Just focus on the art.

4. Create a consistent morning practice that involves meditation, movement, creativity, self reflection and creating physical space in your home or office… everyday. It’s changed my life more than anything.

5. Beneath all anger and fear is love waiting for you. Sometimes less important to focus on “loving” and more important to learn how to dissipate the anger and fear. We are all built to love.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

“Build yourself a cage to run wild”

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

Paul McCartney. Paul, if you are reading this, I’d love to hang out sometime. You inspire me everyday.

Thanks so much guys for having me and for everything you do!

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