Interview: Icon For Hire

Ever-blooming Rockers, Icon For Hire, are bringing their passion forward through their electric stage energy and synergy that captures the hearts and spirits of their fans worldwide. I caught up with Ariel to discuss the importance of remaining close with her family, protecting your own wellbeing, becoming more in tune through sustainable living, the release of “Hollow” and much more.

Congrats on the release of your new single, “Hollow”‘. Tell us about the message that you intended to portray throughout the new track.

Thanks, it’s been so rewarding hearing everyone’s feedback and take on the song. We wrote this as a social commentary on mental health, how vulnerability culture has changed what and how we share-and how that impacts people’s struggles. It’s awesome that people are talking about their pain, but at what point does that become unhelpful, and how is this affecting the people who need help the most? These are some of the questions we’re asking inside the track.

Though a broad question, what have you learned about yourself and what skills have you developed through working in the music industry.

Ariel – I have learned to be much more resilient, to not let my own value rise and fall based on what the band is doing. I have to have my own back, and get my validation from the inside, rather than seeking it from our audience. I think that is how I stay sane; I don’t reference our social statistics or what people are saying about us as a measure of “how I’m doing”, I have to protect my own well being.

On a lighter note, I’ve also learned how to apply an entire face of makeup in a dark moving vehicle without a mirror, so there’s that!

Showcasing the human in you, what is a challenging thought that you recently had and were able to overcome over time?

A challenging thought I find myself having pretty regularly is “This is too hard.” Sometimes I wish I had a normal job, could leave work at an office, and then come home to make dinner and not be obsessing about all the unfinished tasks on my to-do list. The work-life balance in this field is pretty nonexistent…but that’s also sort of of the point, right? I want my life to be my work, the intention was always to be myself for a living, and I am so grateful that is the case. So I am usually able to comfort myself with that-we all have to pick our pain, and this is the pain I’m choosing. And the good always outweighs the struggles.

What is your perception on the digital world that we live in and social media culture?

I am fairly certain we couldn’t have a career without it. Being an independent band, we live and die by our fans, and without social media and digital streaming, we couldn’t reach them.

That said, I think we’d all be better off if we could take breaks from it-a few hours a day, or maybe a full day a week. It’s that compulsion to check our phones and get that dopamine hit that freaks me out. The comparison culture is real. I discipline myself to only be on one social platform, and use a 3rd party app to post to the others. I also make it a habit of trying to notice if I walk away from a social platform feeling worse than when I started scrolling. If so, I unfollow whatever was making me feel that way, and have more discipline next time to not search that hashtag or whatever it was that triggered the feeling.

No career path or amount of followers negates the fact that you are a human being that has feelings. Tell us about some parts of you beyond being a musician that you take pride in.

I am proud of my relationship with my family. I live far from them, but we still have awesome phone conversations. I am also becoming really into sustainable living, trying to reduce single use items like paper towels, plastic razors, plastic bags. We moved recently and I donated a lot of crap-and I have more peace in my life and home because of it. I could see myself slowly becoming more minimalist as time goes on….we’ll see!

I will say that I don’t feel like I hide my human side from our audience. There’s not really a “musician me” and a “regular me”. For my own sanity, it all has to be the same, authentically just me showing up, without trying to project an alter image. So I regularly share my insecurities and things I’m wondering about, through my book, the music, as well as on socials.

As you are exposed to tons of stimulus, how do you proactively take care of your mental and emotional health when you’re out on the road?

When you figure that one out, please let me know! I really do ration my energy on the road; I won’t talk very much during the day, and then sort of come alive at night during the meet and greets and the show. Anyone who’s toured with us knows I like to keep to myself on the bus-I wear headphones so I can ignore people without seeming rude, which I know sounds awful! I like to close the bathroom door or even just the bunk curtain and have my introverted time. Whenever I have the chance, I leave the venue and head to a local coffee shop, again with headphones, and I usually recharge by journaling.

You have toured with a wide variety of musicians over the past years and have played at some major festivals. Tell us some words of wisdom that you collected along the way.

The biggest one is probably “enjoy the journey”, as cliche as that is. It’s really easy to only see one moment in your career as a stepping stone to the next one-“If we do well at this festival, maybe we’ll get invited to play that festival.” That’s no way to live.

Something we learned through being Warped Tour, after the fact, was just how important it is to make relationships with other bands. The entire summer we were either on stage or at the merch table, doing signings, taking photos, selling t-shirts. By the time the evening barbecue started, we were usually way too worn out to come hang. That was a regret. It would have been healthy to add that element of fun, plus it would have been nice to get to know some of the other bands a little bit better. If we had a chance to do it over, we would make it a point to connect with our fellow friends in the scene.

 Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?

Today, I feel like telling our fans to just stay in their own lane and try to love their crazy beautiful selves. If you don’t fit in with what society expects of you, maybe that’s because you’re actually a total badass and aren’t ever going to fit the norm. If you feel trapped in your tiny town, maybe thats because you were made for something way more exciting. If you feel awkwardly small inside your own life, it’s probably because you have a big, beautiful life waiting for you to start living it.

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