Poor Idiosyncratic contemporary folkster Sufjan Stevens has revealed that watching Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox led to him suffering a nervous breakdown.
During an interview with UK newspaper The Observer, the quirky singer/songwriter acknowledged that he’d been afflicted by mental health issues which affected him so heavily that doctors proscribed avoiding crowded rooms and noise.
Sufjan has always had a propensity towards depression although that’s fairly run of the mill for a sensitive musician type of his ilk, but things came to a head during the recording of his last album when he considered retiring from music completely.
In the interview he recounts how he tried to deal with his problems whilst recording the album, explaining that he’d woken up one morning and experienced adrenaline like rushes in his chest.
After three months of no stimulus such as films Sufjan sat down to watch Fantastic Mr Foxbut found the experience intolerable; a harsh review some might say.
Once recovery was underway and the album, The Age of Adz, completed, he was able to watch the film again but with a greater level of enjoyment. He described it as “beautiful”.
“I went through a period of questioning motive and function and now I no longer have the privilege of questioning. I just have the privilege of celebrating my music and sharing it,” Sufjan said about his songwriting.
“I don’t really want to get caught up in that self-doubt any more. I’ve always been really insecure about what I do, but those existential conundrums are really circuitous and – what’s the word? – unproductive. You know, I don’t think my music is important, I don’t think it’s changing the world, I don’t think it’s art. I just think it’s music. It is what it is.”
Creativity and mental illness often seem to go hand in hand and scientists have been studying the common links between the two for centuries. In fact, since the time of Aristotle, links have been noted between creativity and melancholia.
Other musicians who’ve experienced depression and mental illness include Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame, Syd Barrett, Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, and Nick Drake. The final two taking their lives due to depression.