WORDS: ADAM HOPKIN
In an age with unrivalled connectivity, where intimate moments can be broadcast almost limitlessly, fundamental traits of empathy, respect and compassion seem to have exposed their scarcity. With their latest release, ‘Eternal Forward Motion’, Employed To Serve have offered validation, assurance and empowerment, attacking the all-consuming search for external gratification.
“It’s shocking how many people I talk to and perhaps they haven’t eaten, slept or drank enough that day. It’s such a busy world that we live in with all of these notifications, we need to prioritise the basic human needs,” vocalist Justine Jones remarked to us, almost like the fundamentals of humanity have taken a moral backseat.
“It can be addictive. I feel lucky with my generation as we were born at a time where we can see the benefits whilst remembering a time before the internet, whereas those born in the last 10 years, this is all they know….It’s a complete misrepresentation of how people are feeling… it’s often those who are shouting the loudest about how great their life is. It really made me detach myself from comparing myself to what I see online. It’s so easy to forget that not everyone’s day is always perfect. The online world is just a curated version of themselves, it’s only what they want you to see.”
But with these social platforms now hosting vital discussions around mental health, those that often provide the escape for so many are often overlooked. “I think there should be those support networks in place,” says Justine, addressing the recent discussions surrounding the aid available to artists; those who emotionally expose themselves to thousands and have their lives purpose dictated to them by the expectations of others.
“It could be better”, she sighs, “things like 10 hour drives between shows, not expecting artists to tour month after month, because I think that especially can be quite difficult for a lot of artists, it can be really isolating as well if you are on the road for a fairly long time…lately it is getting better,” she goes on to reassure. “It’s being discussed more than ever which is great but, I think there almost has to be that assurance for artists that are out there having a bad time and having to cancel tours because of their mental health.”
“It’s so easy to forget that not everyone’s day is always perfect. The online world is just a curated version of themselves, it’s only what they want you to see.”
But with these social networks so embedded into modern living, the exposure that emerging bands and established musicians depends on comes at a price. “It’s almost like you get an instant fix of endorphins, thinking ‘oh somebody cares about me’, but they don’t know you. It’s a very shallow kind of shallow kind of affection. Bands depend of fans affection when really, they should be seeking professional help.”
The industry certainly depends on the online interaction, but how do bands sustain this momentum without fuelling the same fire they are trying to extinguish. “I wouldn’t say it’s all meaningless,” continues Justine, “online spaces should be used as a tool to promote your passions and your dreams, but I think it’s when people rely on it as a self-help forum it opens up a lot of negativity.”
“It’s quite hard in itself I guess with employers and when you have a whole team of people relying on you for their income”, Justine says, discussing the pressures of being an artist and how constant exposure across social platforms robs looking from a distance a true perspective. “So I can imagine that whilst you are having a bad time and are feeling really bad, a couple of months would be heavy on your mental health and forcing yourself to go out on tour…artists are having to work harder than ever before just to keep up…I mostly feel uncomfortable sharing and most of the time and when I do it’s not a lot. I never say anything specific about myself because at the end of the day it’s no one’s business”, asserts the frontwoman, giving an insight into how her grounded lyricism maintains its accessibility without diluting its sincere roots. “It’s your own personal struggle. I think if you start going into the nitty gritty and start opening yourself up too much to absolute strangers then that can be a fairly lonely thing.”
“The whole idea of Eternal Forward Motion is about persevering, moving forward and bettering yourself, it’s about being more aware of what you are doing. “
“It’s a very dangerous kind of game to play,” Says Justine, commenting on artists using their platforms for influence, change and inspiration to ultimately spread hate, negativity and toxic behaviour. “I guess like, you just have to be careful with what you write so you don’t encourage self-harm, heavy drinking or drug use which is very uncool for teenagers…But, at the end of the day there is still a lot of artists that promote and glamorise drug use and self-harming, especially with those trying to glamorise taking Xanex and things like that to younger kids. There is nothing metaphorical about them, it’s just dumbing down the brain with various prescription drugs.”
With their new record, Employed To Serve are championing a message of self-belief, confidence and community. “Comparing yourself to others just makes you forget who you really are…it’s just not healthy. The whole idea of Eternal Forward Motion is about persevering, moving forward and bettering yourself, it’s about being more aware of what you are doing. Look after yourself and go back to basics.”