According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, about 1 in 5 adults in the US experience mental illness in a year. Imagine sitting on a bus and taking a look around – during rush hour, that’s a lot of people sitting on the bus going through something whether it be anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or one of the other illnesses out there. Research has been done, but there’s still a ways to go before fully understanding them all. For now doctors continue to help those in need and people like artist Logan Lynn, along with Keep Oregon Well, are advocates for the matter.
Suffering from mental illness on a personal level, Lynn knows all too well what others are going through and wanted to lend his helping hand. He does so not only with Keep Oregon Well, but also by being honest and direct about his own experiences through his music – like on his upcoming release ADIEU. Lynn sat down with Coming Up to talk about a little bit of everything, so check it out below.
Kendra: Mental illness is something you’re quite the advocate for. When did you start wanting to be a sort of voice for making people more aware of it?
Logan Lynn: That’s true. I am…and I think this happened really by accident. Maybe “organically” is a better way to put it, but I have been struggling with my own mental and behavioral health since I was very young. When my first record came out I was 17-years-old and I was in the midst of a really serious addiction to cocaine, crack cocaine and alcohol that nearly took my life many times in the years to follow. Those years also just happened to be very public years, so as I was messing up my own life and playing shows and canceling appearances and showing up for appearances wasted or crying or whatever colorful experience might have been happening at the time, there would have been no way to hide it…so I talked openly and honestly about what I was going through, both in my music and in life. Once I got clean in 2008 I started being more intentional about how I was showing up in this way, and that has morphed into what I’m up to today with the advocacy work and music — not that those are ever really two different things. By me being visible about my own mental health struggles, by me owning my own past and truth in a way that others can join me around, my whole life has sort-of become broad, sweeping activism on some level.
Kendra: A lot of creative types who are infamous now have been said to have suffered from one mental illness or another. Do you personally think that has anything to do with creativity in any way?
Logan: Absolutely. Most of the brilliant artists, actors, writers and musicians I know who struggle with depression or anxiety or PTSD have gifts that were born out of suffering or resilience in the face of adversity. That neuro-diversity that we as a society are taught to loathe about ourselves and others should be celebrated, not hidden. My brain works a little bit differently than a person who hasn’t experienced trauma…and there is something beautiful about that difference. If we all came out about what makes us different — our brains, our bodies, our sexuality, our gender expression, whatever it may be — I think we would find that we all have things we can do that are special to us, to our makeup…and that we all have something that others can learn from and be transformed by. It’s this fear of the unknown that keeps us apart and hurting ourselves and one another.
Kendra: Can you tell us a little more about Keep Oregon Well?
Logan: In 2014 I joined forces with Trillium Family Services, Oregon’s largest provider of mental and behavioral healthcare for children and families, to build an advocacy platform. In Portland we have this whole branded subculture and tagline, “Keep Portland Weird,” so we thought “If this community can build a whole social movement around Keeping Portland Weird, surely it can get behind a social movement around Keeping Oregon Well.” We are now in our second year of the campaign and we have since proven that theory to be true many times over. The premise is simple: Meet people where they are at and reach them through song. There is a 10 point #KeepOregonWell pledge to fight stigma that people sign at all of our events, and we are building a trauma-informed community as we go, giving people language for mental and behavioral health issues and having fun while we do it. I run a Keep Oregon Well Concert Series where we partner with bands to raise awareness about mental health with their fans. Just this year I’ve partnered with Kevin Bacon, Violent Femmes, Of Monsters And Men, Walk Off The Earth, Flo-Rida, Charli XCX, Bleachers, The Dandy Warhols, Priory, BORNS, Tori Kelly, Debbie Gibson and hundreds of other rad, caring folks on these shows. I interview them about their own mental health and self-care before the shows and then we party…all for a good cause. It’s super special. You can learn more about the campaign at KeepOregonWell.com
Kendra: Let’s talk about your music now. Can you tell us a bit more about where you were in your head when you started creating ADIEU?
Logan: This record was really tough to make, which is why it will be four years between albums. I lost my partner, I lost my dog, and I lost myself in the process of losing them both. My own mental health struggles tend to show up in the form of persistent suicidal ideation…so the record is a snapshot of that time in my life. It’s about my mental health crisis, overcoming grief, and figuring out that love is still stronger than anything else, even in the face of extreme loss. It doesn’t sound like a ball of laughs — and, on some level, it isn’t. It’s about serious things…but it’s also a fun, party rock record. It feels like the album I have been trying to make since 1998 when I started putting out records. I’m really excited about finally being at the point where people can hear it. This journey with me and my producer Gino Mari has been long and difficult, but incredibly gratifying and worth the effort. It was healing for me…and I hope it might have that same effect on others.
Kendra: You’re a Portland man and that’s the thing that stuck out about you to us in the first place. So if you had to pick a place in Portland that resonated most with your sound, where would it be and why?
Logan: Aside from my living room and studio? (laughs) I love venues here like Mississippi Studios and Doug Fir, and I always love playing Crystal Ballroom. Portland music venues are as dear to my heart as the bands I have grown up with here. We all know each other intimately, and I feel proud of my group of peers. We have made something cool happen out of this town in a way that none of us could have anticipated. I’m from a magical time in Portland. Old Portland was very special…and the city still is, even in the midst of the major changes and growth we are experiencing.
Kendra: Do you have any shows coming up that we need to alert the masses about?
Logan: I play Mississippi Studios in Portland on September 10th, then we are on press tour and going to the iheartradio Music Festival in Vegas on release week, followed by a showcase at Kink FM’s Skype Live Studio on September 30th. My band and I will be playing a bunch of shows later this year and going on tour in the new year. Right now we are making the remaining videos and getting ready for the album to come out September 23rd!
Kendra: Other than shows, what are your plans as far as music goes in 2016?
Logan: Well, I am super busy with the Keep Oregon Well campaign and am going to be doing some national stuff around mental health and the arts this summer. I also am on Season 1 of a new TV show called “Last Meal” which premieres in September, and have begun some secret projects that I’m working on in the background for 2017 that I can’t talk about just yet…but it’s all super fun and I am really loving life right now.
Kendra: Lastly, when going through something, are there any up and coming artists’ music that gets you through that you want to shout out?
Logan: I don’t know about up and coming artists that get me through times when I am struggling. I tend to go back and listen to old Bill Callahan (SMOG) records, The Innocence Mission, Liz Phair, The Sundays…that shit is medicine for me, and has been since the first time I heard those songs decades ago. As for newer bands who I am inspired by, I really love Chvrches, Miike Snow, my best friend Ruth’s band Chromatics, Pure Bathing Culture…There are great things happening in music right now. I like the way the pendulum seems to be swinging, and I hope it keeps swinging back the way of truth. If people are being real, I tend to like it. If they aren’t, well…they probably won’t still be here with the rest of us in 20 years.