Sufjan Stevens talks depression and music

Poor Idiosyncratic contemporary folkster Sufjan Stevens has revealed how 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 that had affected him so seriously that doctors had proscribed avoiding crowded rooms and noise.

Sufjan has always had a propensity towards depression, 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 even considered retiring from music altogether.

Sufjan Stevens' eclectic sound masks the turmoil he feels within

Sufjan Stevens delivers his delicate, eclectic sound on eagle wings, masking the depression that has dogged him for so long

In the interview he recounts how he dealt with the problems whilst recording the album, explaining that he had woken up one morning and experienced adrenaline like rushes in his chest.

After three months of no stimulus such as films, Suffy sat down to watch Fantastic Mr Fox but found the experience unbearable, which is quite a harsh review, even I didn’t think it was that bad.

Once recovery was underway and the album (The Age of Adz) completed, he was able to watch the film again, but with greater success and described it as “beautiful”. Which might have been going too far.

Age of Adz renewed a depressed Sufjan Stevens' self belief

“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.”

I think it’s pretty cool Sufjan. Keep it up.

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.

Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr Fox was a source of horror and beauty for Sufjan Stevens

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 both having took their lives due to depression. It’s sad how it generally takes the good ones isn’t it. I see Lulu and Lady Gaga are still going.

Please share your thoughts on Sufjan Steven’s music or experiences with depression by leaving a comment.

Read about other celebrities who suffered with depression such as Hugh Laurie; Owen Wilson; Mel Gibson; Alanis Morrissette and Halle Berry.

images: stereogum.com; wewritelists.com; independent.co.uk; collider.com