Few have left such a paramount mark to our music than the late Keith Flint of the Prodigy. The never mealymouthed singer helped bring The Prodigy to unfathomed heights with their album, The Fat of the Land and the tour-de-force single, “Fire Starter.” An Essex local, Keith dropped out of school in his teens due to dyslexia and worked in roofing before he met The Prodigy. Originally a dancer for the band, Keith climbed the ladder and became their singer along with Maxim Reality. Throughout the 1990s, early aughts, and up to today, the band reached global attention, bringing all but their first album to the No. 1 spot in the UK and served as lynchpins for the US rave scene.
Keith was nothing if not a performer. Littered with tattoos, pierced with metal, and hair of various colors, Keith served as a big middle finger to the mainstream zeitgeist of the time. Keith was refreshing, revered, and loathed all in equal measures. Simply put, he was our homespun hero. An anti-hero to popular culture, who embodied everything we wanted to hide because we didn’t think there was another person like us.
Last month, Keith was found dead at his home in Essex. Coroners ruled his death as a suicide. We are still unsure about why Keith took his life at the age of 49. Liam Howlett, who formed the group in 1990, wrote on Instagram: “I can’t believe I’m saying this but our brother Keith took his own life over the weekend. I’m shell shocked, fuckin angry, confused and heartbroken ….. r.i.p brother Liam.”
Electronic music is hard. The hours of performing and producing can be fraught with loneliness and addiction. Traveling accompanies insomnia and depression. Keith Flint is not the only example of a startling trend in our electronic milieux. The wounds that were inflicted by the suicide of Avicii are still fresh. The death of Keith is one more deep cut that may not ever heal. While Keith would probably want to be remembered as a polymath for music and the weird, there is one more way to immortalize him.
Noiseporn will be conducting a series of interviews with artists and music industry professionals to discuss mental health–specifically, how they cope with all the pressures and temptations that harbor our culture. This is not solely an issue for electronic music, it is ubiquitous for all performers. We hope these interviews will help the growing number of performers entering the scene see that no one is alone.
Suicide prevention hotline (available 24 hours every day): 1-800-273-8255
Swedish house and techno DJ La Fleur spoke to Noiseporn to talk about mental health in the industry.
Do you think there are aspects specific to this industry that create depression or stress?
Yes, the lack of sleep every weekend or while you are on tour is tremendously bad for your health coupled with the irregular time schedules and lack of a basic routine. Sometimes it’s hard to find time to connect with the people you really care about due to different time schedules and the fact that you are mostly away during the weekends, which is when most people are free to meet and catch up.
Have you experienced depression or any low moments in your career or with those you’ve worked closely with?
Yes, both, to be honest. I don’t know many people that have an extensive touring schedule – and are over the age of 25 – that haven’t had at least some low moments. My personal low moments have been caused by stress, lack of sleep, and work overload. I have learned to listen to my body more carefully and to prioritize better what needs to be done which helps a lot.
How do you cope with the long hours of touring, loneliness, and staying overall mentally fit?
I try to sleep when I can, I make this a priority when I’m on tour. I also meditate, stay hydrated as much as possible, and I try to fit in some light exercise. As well as eating as healthy as possible. I’m also in touch regularly with my loved ones on chat, call, and video.
However, I will still feel tired and fragile when coming home from a long tour, it’s hard to avoid. My best antidote for that is during the time I do spend at home, I really try to stick to my normal routine. Having a four-year-old daughter makes it easier in many ways. I try to follow her schedule, early to bed and wake early in the morning, fixed meal times, and a lot of laughs!
How does being a mother in the industry comes with its own unique set of challenges and stressors? How do you balance a career that involves so much traveling with parenthood?
It has taken me quite some work and time to deal with feelings of guilt for leaving her and of course I sometimes still feel them, but those feelings are also a part of parenthood. You always want the best for your child and strive to make the best childhood for them. After having my daughter I got more selective with my gigs, I want it to be worth it being away from her. I want it to contribute to my growth as well as hers. I also plan weekends off in advance. A good thing is that I am very flexible during the week, and I think I get to spend more time with my daughter compared to most parents working a nine-to-five job. I’m thankful for that and I try to make the most of it. Then, last but not least, the support structure where my partner, her father, plays a vital role. He is at home with her during the weekends when I am away, without him I wouldn’t be able to do it.
Nastia recently posted on Instagram about the years of unhealthy comparisons between her and Nina Kraviz that were based mainly on their looks. This wore her down and their friendship eventually deteriorated. Do you feel that women in music are more subjected to these comparisons than their male counterparts?
Women have been much more objectified in our society than men which can lead to women feeling the pressure and expectation of looking a certain way. Society is also feeding a behaviour that cares too much about the outside world. I think both men and women are affected by this and are comparing themselves to others much more than it’s healthy to do so. A lot of people portray this happy, fun, picture perfect life on social media that isn’t necessarily true.
If you’re not feeling great, does playing a set help? Always or just sometimes? If so, what’s the difference?
It can definitely help! You can get a lot of love and energy from the crowd that can have a very positive effect on your mindset. Those moments are also the ones you’re chasing, the connection with the crowd, sharing a special moment.
What does “community” mean to you in this industry?
For me it means, ‘sharing is caring’, both the good and the bad. And being able to have some real conversations between people in the industry, and to care for each other.
Connect with La Fleur: Facebook / Twitter / SoundCloud