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Andrew Joslyn, Musician, Composer, & SMASH Board Member

We're excited to introduce you to the fine folks behind SMASH in our Mental Health Awareness Month series, where we are sharing their go-to tracks for mental health, why they are passionate about healthcare for musicians, their favorite local artists, and more. Give Big is also a statewide fundraising campaign where individuals and organizations unite across Washington to invest in our communities. Give Big in support of musicians' mental health today!

Meet Andrew Joslyn, composer, orchestrator, violinist, and award-winning musical polymath whose passion for collaboration has led him to work with a remarkably diverse group of world-class artists, touring the world, performing, co-writing, and arranging music on over 400 songs throughout his career. Andrew joined the SMASH board in March of 2020 and is a part of our Membership committee, lending his lived experience to our efforts to recruit more musicians to join SMASH.

Along the way, he has amassed an extensive list of writing, orchestrating, recording, and touring credits that include: Macklemore, Kesha, Judy Collins, Leslie Odom Jr., Kygo, ODESZA, K Flay, Chase Rice, Tom Chaplin (Keane), Michael Bolton, Duff McKagan (Guns N Roses), The Seattle Symphony, and many, many others. He currently runs his production studio in Seattle, leads the Passenger String Quartet, has scored several feature-length films, and writes music for artists, labels, podcasts, music licensing houses, and commercials. He is also a national trustee for the PNW chapter of the Recording Academy (Grammys), and a local advocate for music and the arts on the West Coast.

Where did your passion for music come from?

My parents started me on the violin at the age of 5 and wanted me to continue the family lineage of classical music; my grandmother and grandfather were both famous cellists that toured the world. My passion for music had grown from childhood and evolved as I delved deeper into the music industry.

What are your current favorite local bands or artists?

I’m really digging Ellie Barber (aka Ollella) as a newer artist on the scene. She sings and plays cello, and I love her tone and vibe. I’ve also been digging some West Puget Sound artists like the Rising Sons and Brother Townsend.

Dead or alive, if you could see any artist live, who would it be and why?

David Bowie - it would be rad to see him live; because it is David Bowie, ha!

Are there any upcoming shows or music festivals you are excited about?

Excited for the upcoming Thing Festival in Port Townsend over the Summer. The lineup is solid, and I’m excited to see more of a music infrastructure on the west side of Puget Sound.

Why do you think it is important to offer healthcare to musicians?

All musicians are small businesses, and our employment structure is really complex and varied. Rather than working for a single full-time employer, we often earn revenue from various employment relationships, temporary gigs, part-time work, self-employment, and residuals. With that said, it's hard for musicians to get affordable quality healthcare coverage on their own.

What made you want to join the SMASH board? When did you join?

I dealt with a serious house fire back in 2015, which took all of my belongings, and almost demolished my ability to continue as a full-time musician. The Seattle music community came together and raised money to ensure I could stay on my feet, and I’ve felt indebted to the community ever since. Since I’ve progressed in my career, I’ve always wanted to pay it forward, and being a part of SMASH is one of the ways I feel like I can genuinely help my fellow music creatives.

What do you love most about working with SMASH?

I love directly impacting my music community and seeing how much the general public supports the organization.

Tell us a little about your own mental health experience.

I’ve struggled with depression as an artist for many years, and it comes and goes mainly depending on how busy or not busy I am with work. With my music production work, I’m happy yet stressed whenever I'm working, and whenever I’m not working, I’m depressed and worried that I’m no longer relevant as a music creator; it is always a vicious cycle. It is difficult that my self-worth is entangled so much with my art and that, as a full-time musician, I must also rely on my music to be my source of income.

Why do you think musicians and artists struggle with mental health issues at a higher rate?

Pursuing a living as a musician is a difficult career pursuit - and the industry is only getting more turbulent. With less revenue from music sales, less money being invested in bands, and artists needing to tour way more often to make a living, the landscape for having a healthy balance with life for a musician is hard to find.

What are your go-to things to do when you are struggling with your mental health?

When I’m struggling with my mental health, especially regarding issues with the music landscape, it helps to talk with my close music colleagues because we can commiserate and discuss the uniqueness of our struggles. In addition, I try and journal daily and use the daily stoic to help guide my thoughts and writing. Honestly, I’m still trying to find healthy ways to cope when my thoughts get a little darker.

What is a song or album that, when you put it on it, helps you feel better during times of struggle?

Chris Staples - American Soft album.


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