Jhyve Shares His Personal Journey to Self-Love in Rapture
Scarborough’s Jhyve, born Jamaal Desmond Bowry, has been shaking up the Canadian music scene since his arrival in 2011. Nominated for the 2018 JUNO for R&B/Soul recording of the year, Jhyve simply put, is a story-teller by trade- but nothing about this singer/songwriter/producer is as straight-forward. As he prepares to release his upcoming album ‘Rapture’, he shares his personal journey to self-love that shaped the album.
We sat down with Jhyve to discuss managing music as an emotional catharthis, and the effects of negative mental pressures that come with the wants of industry success.
Your latest single “Anyways” tells the story of someone experiencing a low point in their lives. The lyrics reference being unable to get out of bed, circling in feelings of doubt, and low self-esteem. What was the catalyst for writing this song?
I was coming off from one of the best summers of my career: the Junos nomination, big performances, and a successful EP launch. Then, in the period of a few months, I wound up moving back home, lost my studio, and the label was uncooperative with my follow up singles, pushing me in a direction that I felt would be detrimental. I was sad. I didn’t record new music for a month, drank and slept, putting on a nice face at work when I decided to show up. For the first time I felt like maybe I wasn’t meant to do this; maybe this 12 year journey was all a big misunderstanding. That messes with you when music is at the center of your identity.
What do you want listeners to take away from the new single?
Everyone gets low. Different depths, for different reasons. But we all go through it. What we can never do is fall into despair and out of love with ourselves.
What can listeners expect from your upcoming EP Rapture in 2020?
It starts off sad, as I fell into despair, seeing no way out. However as I leaned on myself for salvation, it gets hopeful as I get to the final song. It’s a journey, I hope people will follow along.
You’ve mentioned that doubt is a feeling you were experiencing while pursuing your craft. How did you find the motivation to push through those feelings and get back into it?
I have good friends, family, and support. But that was the icing, not the cake. It was mostly deciding that as drunk as I was, as doubtful and hopeless as I felt, I couldn’t give up on myself. Anyways was the turning point in the trajectory of this EP and my life at the time.
How does the act of songwriting help you manage negative feelings?
I get to sing and shout and cry and scream things into a mic that I dare not say in my day to day, Then I package it and get to call it art. In a way, your audience becomes your therapist.
Music is often something that helps people feel less alone. But pursuing a career in the music industry can be difficult, and can exacerbate mental health challenges. What do you think are some of the biggest challenges music-makers face while trying to navigate a career in the music industry?
From the time we decide to be artists, we want to be successful. So succeeding (or even the illusion of it) becomes the ruler how we measure ourselves as creatives and people. This is deeply flawed and messes with your mental state. 90% of an artists career is spent not being who you want to be. Imagine what 10-15 years of never feeling like you’re enough can do to your inner narrative.
What advice would you give to other up and coming artists to take care of their mental wellness while focusing on their careers?
Focus on the journey, have FUN, don’t run, be patient, and let go of both the future and the past.
What do you think the music industry can do to better support the wellness of music-makers?
Nothing. The industry is a reflection of us and our obsession with a need to be seen. As artists, we need to decide for ourselves that our dreams don’t have to cost our lives.
What do you do to prioritize self-care?
I try to drink less when I start to fixate, put time limits on studio sessions, keep positive voices around me, keep my mental diet clean—don’t look at or listen to trash, and make time for quiet moments because that’s when your brain stops eating and starts digesting.
The powerful story-telling nature of music can help you feel less alone, but sometimes it’s not enough. Unison is here for our music community in those dark times. If you need someone to talk to, register with Unison to receive help from licensed counsellors through our Counselling & Health Solutions program.
Call 1-855-9UNISON to receive free assistance today.