Getting unf*cked with Nat Rich
One of our aims at eclectic Toolbox is to create a visible network of music industry members that are at the forefront of mental health awareness and helping to shape an informed and healthier music industry.
Through this visible network we hope to create change. As part of our commitment to change we are spending time with individuals and organisations across the industry who are also advocating mental health initiatives: This agenda isn't just about what we are doing, its about celebrating and amplifying what everyone is doing.
Nat Rich joins us as part of this growing network and with us on our journey to develop a healthier industry for everyone.
We were introduced to Nat at our London base The Ministry by go to Radio producer Chris Bailey aka MD of ‘The Boy in the Corner‘.
Nat has lived and breathed the highs and lows of the industry and now armed with bio-hacks is perfectly placed to use her experiences to shake things up. We caught up with her to find out more about her and her latest venture I AM SOUND ACADEMY...
What do you do in the music industry?
Most people in the industry know me for doing their voice overs or for co-owning On Air Radio Syndication with Pete Gooding but recently that changed as I have just launched the ‘I AM SOUND ACADEMY’ which is a membership and education platform. We’re focused on personal and professional development and offer monthly membership, courses, events, workshops and a corporate programme.
The issues we face with anxiety, depression, loneliness, addictions and a whole host of other emotional issues pop up into our lives on a day to day basis largely because we have never been taught how to handle or communicate our emotions and awkward feelings within the moments they actually occur.
Most of us just ignore, avoid or masque the shame, embarrassment or pain we feel and pretend it isn't happening to avoid judgement or attention from others. This constant blocking of emotions is what builds up into stress within the body and we end up finding life more difficult than it needs to be.
With our membership we help people to handle awkwardness, face what they are avoiding and build those all important boundaries. We also have a corporate version that is ideal for companies to support their staff in the same way, it’s called WE ARE SOUND.
What inspired you to want to work in the music industry?
I have always been interested in music but never felt that I was creative enough to be a part of it, so after spending every year I can remember in Ibiza on holidays I just couldn’t get enough of the music scene. I knew I wanted to be a part of it but had no idea what that would look like, until I was invited to co-host a radio show on Hoxton FM. I had never done anything like that before but quite literally my mind, body and soul loved it.
Radio gave me an excuse to talk but with a purpose. Not long after finding my passion a friend of mine recommended I take a look at Point Blank Music college. I ended up studying Advanced Radio Production, Vocal Training and even started to DJ. I wasn’t a fan of Djing due to the late nights and the pressure to perform but I still loved creating playlists and producing radio shows. The reason I started the new company is also because I am aware of how many people have issues with living their best life even at the top of their game career wise. You can be the most successful DJ in the world but still not know how to handle your feelings and can suffer from a mental illness.
What do you do to support wellbeing and promote mental health awareness in the industry?
I’ve been a personal responsibility coach for DJ’s helping them to handle their emotions and crazy lifestyles and to learn how to communicate with their managers in a way that works for them both. Obviously I can’t disclose who due to client confidentiality but let’s just say even those who appear to be perfectly well have things to deal with on the inside.
Since doing this I strongly feel that not everyone has a mental health problem like we are lead to believe. That term is often overused these days. It‘s abundantly clear that people just don’t know how to communicate their true feelings in the awkward moments that show up for them.
So, with I AM SOUND, we now help people to share their truth in a way that helps them grow and build better relationships. But I wanted to do what I do on a bigger scale so that’s where I AM SOUND and WE ARE SOUND comes in.
Why is this important to you and to the music industry?
I turned my whole life around by using the life hacks I built into I AM SOUND. I got over addictions to drugs, alcohol, sex and even social media all without therapy or group work or the need for expensive outside help of any kind. I used books and meditation to go within and change what I didn’t like about myself. I got through my depression, anxiety and loneliness by learning to help myself and being radically honest with myself about my behaviour.
I believe self awareness and effective communication is of the utmost of importance within the music industry moving forward. If you combine your party lifestyle with drugs, alcohol, late nights, global tours, huge amounts of attention from fans, both good and bad, along with the demands of having to have a consistent social media presence it’s a clear recipe for disaster. Not to mention flying around the world losing sleep, eating unhealthy food and going against our natural body clock, as you know this can leave anyone feeling like life’s against them.
The music industry has also often lacked the discipline that is seen in that of the corporate world, so the days of getting away with lateness, bad customer services skills and out right lack of attention to detail can cause a lot of stress to those who need to show up in some kind of business manor for parties and gigs.
Without a personal structure in place your days and work can run away with you leaving you feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
Where would you like to see the industry in 12 months time?
Honestly, and I know this may seem controversial, but I would like to see people choose another option over claiming they have a mental health issue and taking prescribed medications as their first option. This can be life threatening as a lot of these medications have side effects of suicidal thoughts. Which to me is a HUGE problem.
It would be great to see people taking ownership for their lives by being honest and willing to show up in their truth and it would be even better to see people taking an interest in learning how to communicate with respect so that anger and avoidance can be reduced if not eliminated in many difficult situations we see in todays music world.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in the industry?
That would be my own ego, ha! The thoughts I used to tell myself about DJing and what other people thought of me was quite intense. It was that and a ketamine addiction I picked up while doing a season in Ibiza in 2009. That drug had me escaping my life's most difficult emotions on a weekly basis. It was not clever but it was available in abundance and cheap.
The moment I realised that I lost 3 days of my life in Ibiza from leaving Pacha in the early hours of Tuesday morning after the much loved Swedish House Mafia party to waking up on the Friday morning at a friends flat in San Antonio's West End without a clue what had taken place scared me. There was a group of us and non of us could remember if we had eaten, drank or even seen the light of day since Tuesday morning. All we knew was that we have gone through one hell of a lot of Ket.
I went home cried to myself and fell asleep only to half wake up to sleep paralysis where i could feel that I was getting beaten up by a gang of people in what seems like another reality. I could not move or get out of it but felt every kick and every punch and tried to move. Once I finally came out of it I was shaking but so tired. It again drifted off and ended up back in the same trance where I was getting the S**T kicked out of me. When I woke up again I was in so much pain my body was battered. I was too scared to go back to sleep again so took my sore body and sat in a cold bath to wake me up. Not my best week! This was a time where I had to really take a look at myself and ask myself what I was doing? Unfortunately because Ket was so available I still did it after that night. I didn’t stop that party drug until July 2011 after a night at Pikes on Acid where I had a revelation in the mirror and told myself enough was enough. Till this day, if its chemical based its not happening for me.
So, what works for you then? What helped you to become healthier?
In all honesty I only know one way to be mentally healthy. It’s by facing all that happens in my life, as and when it shows up. No matter how painful, awkward and embarrassing it is, I don’t ignore anything and I deal with it on the same day so I don’t carry that to bed or into tomorrow. It sounds intense and at first it is, but it feels better than anxiety or depression that’s for sure.
This FACING IT RULE I have, applies to everything from rude whats app messages I don’t like, emails that are hard to read and awkward conversations that need to be had regarding dating, being let down or finances. I face the lot so I don’t have to hide anymore.
Best piece of advice you have for those looking to start a career in the industry...
My advice may sound obvious but you would be surprised how many people miss this: Don’t drink and don’t do drugs when you are working. If you get the opportunity to travel the world with your work, don’t do it hung over or on a come down. Be grateful for the fact that you don’t need to be stuck at a desk in a 9-5 and that you get to explore the world. Show up and be the real you, because the industry has enough in-authentic people in it and you will see that VERY quickly as you move up the ladder. If you can stand out because you are honest and reliable then people will love and admire you and want to get you involved in all the best gigs, jobs and tours. The industry is great and can set your soul on fire but you don’t need to 'burn out' in the process.
Seeing social media as part of the ’problem’ Nat Rich and I AM SOUND ACADEMY aren’t on social media, you can find out more here: www.iamsoundacademy.com