The S.H.I.T Interview: recording artist Izzy Thomas

Photo credit: Talie Eigeland

When the recording artist, Izzy Thomas, contacted me to say she’d love to support the S.H.I.T campaign for YoungMinds and share the #itsokttofeelshit message in conjunction with her single ‘Everybody Wants Something,’ I was over the moon, as you can imagine.

Not only is she incredibly talented – think an eclectic sound of pop, rock and soul with a powerhouse bluesy vocal – she is also refreshingly candid. She talks openly about her feelings about her own mental health struggles in the hope that it will help other people realise they are not alone, and mental health issues can affect anyone, at any time.

Izzy and I caught up to talk more about her work as a singer/songwriter, as well as her passion for teaching young people more about issues such as autism, mental health and cyber bullying.

What is your single ‘Everybody Wants Something’ all about?

I wrote this about the feeling of exhaustion you get living in a city that’s sometimes moving too fast to keep up with.
Photo credit: Talie Eigeland

What was the trigger that made you feel you had to write it?

A few months ago I went through a really tough period. I felt anxious, and absolutely exhausted all the time.

I had a bad panic attack, and for me, in that moment, all the words came so naturally. My partner was sitting on the bed playing the guitar to calm me down and I started singing about how I was feeling, then within a matter of minutes we had the song.

Do you find it easy to open up and talk about how you’re feeling?

Now I do yes, and now I find that there’s a lot more available and more resources for people struggling with their mental health.

What do you do to look after your mental health?

I play meditation music, and sometimes watch TedTalks. There are some really interesting discussions on there that are good for the mind. I meditated in the bath the other day – it was awesome!

What did you find hardest during lockdown?

The hardest thing was not seeing my friends and family for a while. When you’re away from them and it’s not as easy to jump on a train to see them, you realise how much they actually mean to you. My family and friends are the roots that really ground me.

You visited a number of London schools last year to talk to the pupils, can you tell us more about that?

I really enjoyed doing that. I basically did a little UK tour in places of education speaking in assemblies about autism awareness, mental health and cyber bullying.

I still remember things from my school assemblies, and I think going in and performing, and speaking about really important topics can really make a difference to other young people, especially with social networks playing a massive role in influencing kids.

It’s crucial for them to be able to read in between the lines, accepting other people, and accepting themselves for their quirks. Perfection does NOT exist, but social media makes us believe it does with filters etc. It’s easy to get lost in it all. If kids are reminded what it means to have equality and authenticity, it will really help them in the long run in life.

How can we help other young people realise it’s ok to feel shit and there is nothing to be ashamed about?

Speaking! This is something I try and do with every public talk, performance and even in my social media posts. I talk about my own experiences, and I think that once they can relate, there is more trust to open up.

If you had to give your teenage self three pieces of advice, what would they be?

Chill out, everyone’s winging it!

Don’t worry, in a few years time big hair, big eye brows and glasses will actually be the new cool, all the hipsters will be trying to look like you, so DON’T straighten your hair!

Stop worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet. Just DO IT.

And chase your dreams with conviction.

If you were in charge of the government’s next mental health bill for young people, what would you prioritise?

I would turn detention classes into meditation classes in school. Detention is the biggest waste of time EVER, as nobody learns anything, so the same actions are repeated. If the children meditate and are taught about mindfulness, you would see the difference.

I would also put more money into art and music funding. Art and music are SO needed to help kids express themselves, but music lessons are being cut and underfunded when they are VITAL.

What are you up to right now?

At the moment I’m writing new songs, preparing a few soft releases for the next couple of months, ready for the big single release in January next year! Obviously it sucks not to be touring at the moment, but that will come in full force next year, and I can’t wait to show people the next tunes!

Izzy’s single Everybody Wants Something is available for download on all platforms here

To see and hear more from Izzy, find her at www.izzythomas.com on Instagram: @izzythomasofficial and Twitter: @IzzyThomasMusic

All photos taken by Talie Eigeland @talie_eigeland

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