Canadian Musician - January / February - Page 43

Relationships on & off the Road One of the most rewarding things about being on the road is developing relationships with people you wouldn’t otherwise see. I’ve reconnected with friends from school, spent time with family that the rest of my family doesn’t see, and made friends with musicians and music lovers all over the coun- try. These people turn into real friends that I actually see fairly often. The hard part, and this heightens some people’s difficulty W W W. C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N . CO M the time. Re-entering the atmosphere can be a bumpy ride. “I’ve only been home for about two weeks now,” explains Kylie Miller of Toronto’s The Beaches, “so I’m still getting my bearings with being home again. On the road, you have this schedule every day and you know where you need to be, so being nomadic becomes the norm. It’s a weird feel- ing coming home and not having a regimented schedule. I have nothing much to do except relaxing, seeing friends and family, sleeping, and eating, which is obviously good for my health, but it feels weird. “I had a hard time unpacking my suitcase, because I was so used to living out of it. It sat there until I finally ran out of clothes and had to do laundry.” Even if there are problems and stressful situations on the road, it’s not hard to fall into a routine. For me, it’s wake up, do three sets of pushups, stretch, and shower. Beyond that, the days are fairly repetitive. Drive, radio, load-in, sound check, supper, show, load out, hang out, sleep, and do it again. While there are always obstacles, this schedule is very stimulating. I spoke to Jadea Kelly, a singer-songwriter from Toronto and a relentless touring machine, about her experiences having to readjust to regular life. “The biggest obstacle for me as an artist has always been coming home,” she offers. “I’ve been on tour for ba- sically two years now, living out of a suitcase and house sitting whenever I’m back in Toronto.” For her, it’s a rather weighty experience. “I come home from tour, and I sink into a deep depression,” she says can- didly. “I’ve struggled with anxiety my entire life and it’s always heightened when I come home. I’m always ‘high’ on tour. Drinking and partying and full of adrenaline, and doing what I love, and when I come home it’s hard not to sink into a dark place. It can take me a week or two to shake it off.” For artists, touring is full of validation that you don’t always get at home. You get to be on stage, playing the music you love – and having people tell you how amazing you are for it – selling merch, and feeling great. “You are in a state of survival on tour which forces you to be in the moment,” Kelly adds. “It forces you to really be with the people you’re travelling with. And then you’re on stage every night and performing and doing what you love to do… I’m always my happiest self when I’m on tour.” JADEA KELLY with being at home, is you end up losing touch with some of your old friends. “I think that, especially when artists start to do well, it gets harder to keep relationships,” Kelly offers. “A lot of my friends at home start to become the kind of long-distance friends that you have around the world, because I only see them every once in a while.” When I brought this up with other artists, everyone could relate. Even Miller from The Beaches, who at this point has only embarked on one lengthy tour, could relate to feeling this disconnect. “I think I notice it with people my age. Everyone is in school or working part-time jobs and that’s not something I’ve ever done. I don’t even know what that is like. But luck- ily, I have four of my best friends also in the same situation.” This too was a common theme; it’s not like artists don’t have deep friendships, they just typically share the deepest friendships with the people they tour with. “All my best friends are people I’ve been touring with for seven or eight years,” says Kelly. “It goes past friendship and it becomes like a weird fam- ily,” Miller tacks on. “We get the best and the worst of one another and it’s really great.” There’s no question the relationships you develop with the people you tour with are incredibly deep and mean- ingful; however, it’s important and valuable to maintain close connections with people at home, too, and especially people from outside of the music world. “I have even found it hard to go on dates and stuff, be- cause music and touring is pretty much all I think about,” admits Micah Erenberg, a touring artist from Winnipeg. Especially as your friends get older, get jobs, and have families, being an artist gets less and less relatable; in fact, a common stressor in many artists’ lives is having to talk to the people they leave at home about what they’re doing. “I hate, hate, hate talking to external family members about what I’m doing,” says Kelly. “I feel like people who aren’t in the industry have different meters for success. I’m the only child who pursued music in my family and they support me making music but they also see the effect it has on me emotionally and I know that it’s hard for them. There’s no textbook for having a kid in the music industry. I think it’s hard for [family] because they want to see you have kids and relationships and you have to sacrifice some of those things in this career.” On top of maintaining friendships, artists are also main- taining romantic relationships. Anyone who has been in a long-distance relationship knows how difficult it can get at times. FaceTime and phone calls are simply not adequate replacements for hugs and date nights. C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N • 43