YUNGBLUD, Jake Hill, Daughter Carol, and More Talk Mental Health, Art, and College Degrees at Riot Fest

Despite protests from neighbors in Douglass Park in the days leading up to the festival, sometimes sweltering heat and long queues for food and drink, morale was high as more than 100,000 fans converged for three days and nearly 100 performers took the stage, delighting the crowds. at this year’s Riot Fest.

A mix of classic and up-and-coming artists from various genres offered something for everyone at one of Chicago’s biggest annual music festivals from September 16-18.

The three-day festival stirred the crowds and excited the performers too.

“Every time I go to a rock ‘n’ roll festival in America, I feel like home again,” said British singer and songwriter YUNGBLUD.

On Saturday, YUNGBLUD performed some songs from their new self-titled album for the Riot Fest audience. He was jumping around the stage with great energy, even with a bleeding knee.

“This is my most personal album to date,” YUNGBLUD said. “I went to places and dug very deep. This album, more than anything, is a setup for what’s to come, for the rest of my life. I opened a door that couldn’t be closed.

YUNGBLUD said he believes that art should not be categorized or formulated and considers studying music at university to be a more valuable path than any other. He said he would like to go in college for art because “the best thing about art is being around other artists.”

“It doesn’t matter if you’re tall or short, it doesn’t define you as iconic,” YUNGBLUD said. “I always say the Cramps are just as iconic as David Bowie, yet one played in stadiums and the other in clubs. Success doesn’t define the art. Authenticity defines the art, so just create something real, and that’s where it will become iconic.

Jake Hill, an American rapper and songwriter, shared that performing at festivals like Riot Fest has a big impact on his mental health — and makes his anxiety worse.

“When it’s my own shows [anxiety is] not so bad,” Hill said. “When it’s festivals and no one really knows who I am, and I’m going on stage in front of a bunch of people waiting for the next act or just staring at me, I’m like, ‘Okay, fuck, I gotta show them who I am, I have to make sure I’m really cool on stage, there’s an extra pressure for them to remember me.

He described the last month as “the most difficult point of my life” and said he suffered from depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety.

Hill said that in these negative experiences he finds inspiration to make music, but it creates an unhealthy state of mind and he hopes to write more positive songs in the future.

“If I can write a song about what I’m going through, and someone else messages me and says they’re going through the same thing, it helps me know that I’m not alone, everything like it helps others know they’re not alone,” Hill said. “Maybe it’s not the healthiest thing to write all the time, but I’m good because I know what it is and I live it.”

Hill said to help improve his mental health, he recently started doing guided meditation, eating healthier, taking vitamin D and doing talk therapy. Being good mentally is my biggest version of success because right now I’m so stressed out,” Hill said.

Mannequin lead singer Pussy Marisa “Missy” Dabice Said She Might Appreciate appreciated a few drinks at an artist’s open bar after his first Riot Fest show on Saturday. But for her, it’s a rare event; Dabice shared that on tour it’s easy to start drinking and it took her a lot of time and discipline to realize that it just puts her in a state of depression.

“[I] make touring as much of a job as possible and have very little fun. Just don’t drink, stretch every day, do vocal warm-ups, drink lots of water and try to eat as healthy as possible,” Dabice said. “There are a lot of restrictions and you have to take very focused care of your body to be able to have that energy every night.”

But Dabice said touring and festivals aren’t just about discipline, they also allow her to express herself through clothing in ways she can’t outside of that context. On Saturday, Dabice wore heart-shaped sunglasses, black leather boots and a sheer black dress – with nothing underneath except the star stickers on her nipples.

“At festivals and shows, you experience a whole different kind of freedom to dress and express yourself,” Dabice said. “We’ve worked really hard to build a place where we’re safe to make music and express it with other people. You can’t just walk down the street being highly exposed and respected at the same time.

Singer and songwriter carolesdaughter said that before she started her musical journey, she never went to shows or festivals and instead spent the majority of her time doing what she loves: writing. But after music became her profession, she said she started feeling more like an influencer than an artist.

“I feel like 5% of my time is spent writing and making music, it’s so little of my time,” Carolesdaughter said. “[The majority] is devoted to touring, promotion and content creation. It’s like you’re just making disposable content that doesn’t last. They are not works of art; it’s just like something to click on and something to get views, which doesn’t even translate to real streams, and people going to your shows and really liking you and relating to you, so everything is useless and the world is terrible.

Carolesdaughter said she didn’t thinks that a college education is necessary for artists, and while people can learn interesting and technical things in college, no one can teach them how to make art. She added that there are many “nepo babies” in the arts, referring to people who benefit from nepotism.

“If people already have this innate gift, and they go to an art school or whatever to study it, and perfect the technical aspect, because there’s a lot to learn that can be taught,” said carolesdaughter. “But the real soul of it must already be there.”

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