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Role Model Q&A Simon Clarke

Boys in Mind Meets...

An Interview with Simon Clarke

By: Daisy

Simon Clarke - Event Director for Shindig Music Festival

Hi, I’m Simon Clarke.  I run Shindig Festival, a twelve thousand people music and arts festival in Somerset. I’m the event director.  I oversee the planning of the annual event  We’re now in our eighth year. For a living I do graphic design –  that’s my trade, and I do all the marketing for the festival. That’s my day-to-day job.

I started DJing when I was about 19. Now I’m 48, so about 30 years. I’ve run club nights, events, owned record labels, generally been in the music industry for quite a few years now.

How does music fit with mental health for you? I  see music as healing therapy for me and I see it in the people I work with as well. There are  a lot of mental health initiatives that people want to push forward to make it a better journey for people in that industry. I think there’s definitely something to be said in my part of the music industry that music is for people to have a good time :  dancing, socialising and even listening too at home to help yourself feel better. So I see it as a definite mental health positive.

Can you tell us a bit about your mental health journey? The work I do can be really stressful, promoting and organising events, so I’ve learned to deal with the stress to achieve what I need to do. There are  constantly things that we have to deal with, especially as someone who’s in charge of an event. But you can use it to your advantage a bit and make it work for you. If it’s too much, back away and give yourself time and I’ve got used to doing that .There is a lot of crossover because I can get people in my family involved in my work which is a huge benefit to the work I do. Knowing when it’s too much, backing off and giving yourself time and not letting it get on top of you is so important.

Do your children affect how you see mental health? Yeah definitely, because i’m  taking on board the kids as well. I have a six month old, a ten year old and a sixteen year old, so quite a range, and they’ve all got different things happening in their life. Ten year old Eva is just going up to secondary school so she’s got to pick a school and there’s a lot of worry in her life about what’s going to happen next. Trying to help them and mentor them through it –  you know how big it can be at ten years old –  you’ve got to be empathetic to how big a change it is for them.

And Jay, my sixteen year old, he’s doing the same. He’s finishing his GCSEs and moving on to the unknown because he doesn’t know what he’s going to do next. I’m trying to help him decide, give him my experience with that part of life. Just sharing life experience type stuff really does help with kids. Letting them know it’s ok to do things a certain way or choose their own path.

Then of course I have my six month old which is a totally new experience. I’ve had babies, but not for ten years and now I’ve suddenly got one all over again with Harmony, my partner. It’s her first child but not my first and so I can give her my experience. I’m quite excited to mentor my youngest, because I know what worked for my other kids and helped them in their lives, so I can hand on that experience.

A massive thing in Jay’s life is actually breakdancing, I got him into it at about ten years old. He was quite a shy little boy, but the performance element of it really made him shine and he got a lot of confidence out of it and I think it helped him a lot, helped him realise he could do a lot of things. He didn’t want to perform at first, but after a few sessions he was really eager, it really changed him as a kid, it gave him confidence. It just shows that teaching kids and giving them a go at things, something might stick.

How can music help young people in their journeys? Partly coming from seeing my son play at last year’s Shindig, we’re getting kids involved and seeing how much they get from that. We’re creating a sort of programme where teens are invited to the event to be part of its workings. Building stages, creating their own area, performing in a band or as a DJ, safely bringing them into that environment. They get that experience of the industry, performing or working with the team and seeing how the team works. It’s a safe environment for them to do that because we can make sure people look after them and they get payment and credit for what they do.   

Any advice for readers? Learning skills, exploring hobbies, listening to people with experience in what you want to do.  Be a sponge and get information from anywhere and anyone you can. Try things out. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Try as many different things as you can in life and hopefully some of it sticks.     

Dec 2022

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