Photo by Cortney Armitage
“I lead with emotion always,” shares New York singer/songwriter STOLAR. Last year was an emotionally intense one for the artist who experienced not only heartbreak and self-discovery, but new environments as well. Turning to music, he wrote over 150 songs within a five-month period and realized he needed a way to cohesively release the songs he was creating, as they came to be. The result is Raw Emotions, a project that explores a variety of feelings in an exceptional way. “The idea of Raw Emotions came through conversations of how to simultaneously share music and really challenge myself to grow,” he shares.
Each month of the year represents a different emotion accompanied by music and visual content inspired by it, including emotions such as desire, hope and regret. “By writing songs, essays about these emotions, posting videos about them and collaborating with artists in different mediums, it forces me to be raw and real with the songs I’m creating. It’s essentially a built-in process for only creating things that feel true.” In fact, STOLAR challenges himself with a daily creative process called “The dig” where he improvises melodies and lyrics freely for 10 minutes, records it and uses it as raw ideas. With this type of creative process, he is able to be as authentic as he would like, focusing more on a song itself and realizing its full potential versus trying to make it fit within a sound or musical ideal that he may have otherwise tried to force it in. “I want the music to sweep you away in whatever vibe it’s putting out,” he explains.
What makes STOLAR stand out, however, is his purpose as a musician. As someone with mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he has refused to let his personal struggles debilitate him. Instead, he uses that energy to create something beautiful through music. It wasn’t easy but it was manageable over time. “It was a very long process of finding therapy, the right medication, meditation, exercise, great friends and eventually, the daily creation of music that lead to me finding a way to harness the ‘power’ of being able to feel extreme emotions,” he explains. While he may still feel anxious or afraid, he’s learned that it’s okay to just feel. STOLAR shares, “Writing music clears out my clogged emotions and the Raw Emotions project helps me be more comfortable sitting in the harsh emotional spaces that are unavoidable…Behind the veil of every negative emotion there is a positive one waiting to settle in.”
For those struggling with mental health, STOLAR’s advice is simple: talk about it. “One day people will look at depression like we look at diabetes or any physical issue. It’s simply a disease that you are addressing. It can be hard and feel “embarrassing” in our culture, but talking about it is so important,” he explains. Each person will figure out what is fitting for them when it comes to facing mental health struggles, but it’s important to speak up, be honest, and not be afraid to ask for help. For those who do not have proper resources, STOLAR shares, “The Jed Foundation is one of my favorite organizations and if you are having serious issues and don’t know where to turn, that’s a great place to start your journey.”
While 2017 may have been hard for STOLAR, the new year is full of promise. Raw Emotions has the ability to connect with listeners of all kinds and will provide a soundtrack to their lives. He expands, “Once the music is out it’s not mine anymore, it’s for everyone…I’d hope [Raw Emotions] offers insight in being more comfortable with all of the different emotions. That’s what it’s definitely been doing for me.”