Feel Everything – Inside the Mind of a Highly Sensitive Musician

In so many ways, being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) makes it easy for me to be an artist.

I can tap into moods, emotions, vibes and temperature changes effortlessly. I catch stuff, emotionally, sonically – in all the ways – before anyone else, which gives me a huge advantage as a songwriter and producer. And my sensitivity is a kind of North Star that guides my creative journey, shepherding me through the landscape of creative options and constraints and tastes. It keeps me aligned with the things I really, truly feel.

Unfortunately, being an HSP also makes it really fucking hard to engage in my creative endeavors. Honestly, the heightened sensitivity makes it really fucking hard to engage in just about anything. I feel like I am constantly subject to criticism, ridicule, misunderstanding and the most foul reaction of them all – indifference – whenever I make something and put it out in the world. And dammit, I feel like that a lot just leaving the house to be an anonymous person in the world, too.

I’m not here to be anonymous, though. For better or worse. I’m here to be incandescent and undeniable. Electric. That’s the assignment. Just doing my job. And yeah, of course I’m experiencing impostor syndrome!

I’ve chosen to go about my life in a largely public manner as an artist and musician. It feels like that’s what I’m here to do. It feels like I’m uniquely qualified to do what I’m doing. But sweet Jesus, it’s hard!


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What’s It Actually Like?

Highly sensitive people like me experience the world differently than others. We notice, collect and absorb everything. Subtleties that go unnoticed by others are sirens to us. Hooray for emotional depth! Hooray for noticing connections! But goddamn, it sure would be nice to just chill out and check out for a while. Do you know what I mean?

What I’m talking about when I talk about being an HSP is not just having a heightened emotional state. No, it’s a distinct personality trait characterized by increased responsiveness to stimuli. I find myself affected deeply by my surroundings and the people populating my environment. Their moods. Their amplitude. The quality of the light. It all registers in a big way to me.

Music also registers in a big way. My god, it moves me so much.

I can get into some music theory, yeah, but for me, music is a language of emotion. It’s the language of sensitivity, in fact. It’s not just notes and rhythms. It’s not just melody, harmony and a beat. A song is a living, breathing thing. A song has personality. Songs represent emotions so much better than dumb words can. Songs are worlds. And they mean so much to me.

I think that’s why, when music is playing, I get so upset when people want to have conversations or pay attention to anything other than the music. It kind of breaks my heart. No lie.

What’s a “Writer’s Block” lol?

I find myself being inspired constantly. There is no writer’s block for me. Ideas pass through my mind on a raging river. They just keep fucking coming. It’s too much!

The issue I have is not generating ideas; rather, it’s editing them. Picking the good ones to pursue. Closing the door on the not-so-good ones. And focusing. Which is so hard because there are all these ideas because I am always noticing every little thing and every little thing about every little thing. Keep it coming!!! But make it stop!!!! BUT KEEP IT COMING!!!! AND PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD MAKE IT STOP!!!!! 

What’s the Problem and What’s Helping?

It’s challenging when I go out to shows and it’s really loud and overstimulating, so I shut down when I ought to be networking. I get anxious about being in public. I’m constantly weighing my desire to stand out as an artist against my urge to fade into the woodwork so as not to be perceived. So I try to set myself up for success as much as I can. I’ve curated a pretty nice, contemplative life with well-managed stimuli.

I try to exercise. I smoke plenty of grass. Here I am.

And I want to succeed at music real bad. I am so passionate about this! I’m going for broke with this crazy music dream of mine. Which means I have to be assertive, resilient and even tough (barf).

I have to stay connected to my values and the beings whose opinions of me actually matter. I have to remain grounded. Present. Riding a knife’s edge. On one side there’s the danger of letting my sensitivity paralyze me. On the other, there’s the danger of losing my connection with the thing that makes it possible to create so effectively. But for now, at least, my balance and equilibrium are pretty tight and strong.

If I’m gonna do this, there is no better time. So I’m going for it. I’m doing it.

What’s With Everyone Being So Sensitive These Days?

Many of us are navigating our journeys through this world as HSPs who are also creative people. And we are coming out to play in ever increasing numbers. Although society seems to be pretty slow in accepting us, acceptance is happening. I can feel it. Because I’m so sensitive, I suppose.

So I hope we can all find each other. Offer support and guidance. Provide safety for each other. Encourage each other. Shut the fuck up and turn it down for each other, as needed.

I used to hate this sensitivity thing about me. I was taught to hate it, in fact. There’s a podcast episode of mine in which I go into greater detail about all that, which you should check out. But these days things are different. I know better. No, you’ll never hear me say that, “sensitivity is a superpower.” God no. But I embrace the shit out of my sensitivity now. It’s so powerful and fiery and electric. It’s kind of scary. It’s kind of spooky. It’s kind of a pain in the ass. But it’s mine (and yours), and it’s driving me to do extraordinary things.

Where is it driving you?


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