DEVIN TOWNSEND Opens Up About Mental Health: 'I've Always Been Very Hypersensitive To Things'

May 25, 2024

Canadian singer, songwriter and producer Devin Townsend was a guest on a recent episode of "Occupy The Void With Xtina and Tim", a new podcast about mental health, making music and staying alive hosted by Christina Rowatt and Tim Charles, violinist and clean vocalist of Australia's NE OBLIVISCARIS. You can now listen to the entire 80-minute discussion on Spotify. Some of the highlights are available in the YouTube clip below.

Asked if his personality is reflected through to his mental health in terms of spectrum, Devin responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I would say it works in its favor. I think what I've been recognizing over all the years of doing this is how much the sense that participating in different emotional varieties on a creative level is indicative of some sort of disorder rather than the opposite. For me, my sensitivity to my surroundings and to the world and my family and things in general, I've always been very hypersensitive to things, and that has manifested as something that feels a certain way, has a very distinct character. And my desire to represent that musically, I think, has helped my mental health in that it gives it the legitimacy. If you feel that a certain emotion is off limits, for whatever reason, whether or not that's anger or sadness or empathy, I think that's much more of a detriment than just recognizing that this is just a part of the human experience.

Regarding how he "oiled the channel" to get here, Devin said: "I think it happens despite you, in a way, and that has been demonstrated by me consciously attempting to step out of it and to stop participating in it, and I think that the channel subsequently from that moment got oiled when I recognized that not only is it not a choice, but it's a gift. And the gift is not the music or your ability to do it, but the gift is — life is so short, and if you are prone to feeling things on a really fundamental level, then, on some level, it's, like, if you can find ways to navigate that so you can remain balanced to some degree, it's almost like an obligation to some level. If you're able to use that delusion and then create things from that, that allows people to hear something that provides a voice for something they're maybe not able to articulate in a similar way, then you should fucking do it. It's, like, you should make music if you're able to, or you should make art if you're able to. And to not do it, and this is what I realized by trying to stop it, it just comes out in counterproductive ways. So it gets oiled just by life gently poking at my naivety and saying, 'Look, dude, you're a a child. So get over it.'"

Townsend has spent his entire career making unique inroads with many styles of music, always following his particular muse in any way it leads him for more than three decades.

Devin released his latest album, "Lightwork", in October 2022. Assembled from a barrage of material written during the pandemic, the LP — and its companion album of B-sides and demos, "Nightwork" — represented Devin at this stage of his life, post pandemic, and his reflections on what he (and many of us) have all gone through.

For "Lightwork", Devin decided to see what would happen if he included a producer (an experiment he has been excited to attempt for some time) to help guide this selection of material. He chose longtime friend Garth "GGGarth" Richardson to help bring this idea to fruition.

Devin began his professional career straight out of high school when he was discovered by a record label and asked to provide lead vocals on Steve Vai's album "Sex & Religion". After touring and recording with Vai, Townsend became discouraged by what he found in the music industry and went on to produce several solo albums under the pseudonym STRAPPING YOUNG LAD. Since then, Devin has recorded many more successful albums and performed all over the world.

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