Successful music producer, Andrew Kingslow, has worked alongside music royalty including John Legend and BB King. However, throughout his illustrious career he has struggled with anxiety and depression, eventually receiving a diagnosis of autism as an adult. In our exclusive interview, Andrew tells us how he masked his autism from the world, overcame a host of personal demons and took the brave step to seek support. And today, as an ambassador for the neurodivergent community across the music industry, he talks about his hope to help others to overcome the challenges and barriers that he faced.
00:00:07 – 00:03:05 – Introduction and sneak preview
00:03:06 – 00:11:20 – Andrew’s career – from John Legend to Rastamouse
00:12:54 – 00:17:34 – Working as ‘the Neuro Muso’
00:17:45 – 00:30:54 – Living with autism and being diagnosed as an adult
00:30:55 – 00:36:34 – The lowest point and climbing out
00:36:35 – 00:44:15 – Changing the music industry
00:44:16 – 00:49:05 – Looking to the future
- Answer Andrew’s survey: Electric Pineapple And The London Autism Group Charity Survey: https://tinyurl.com/nd-musicians
- Andrew Kingslow, the Neuro Muso website: https://theneuromuso.godaddysites.com/
- London Autism Group Charity: https://www.londonautismgroupcharity.org/
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Welcome back to The Brave Front.
Podcast with a single purpose to.
Talk about men’s mental health.
My name’s Tim Beynon, and here’s.
A sneak preview of what’s coming up this episode.
Like the the last sort of bigger project I worked on was the John Legend’s latest album, The The Soul Superstar and TV personality that is John Legend.
But what I have found myself doing and what did happen when it really got bad was the urge to self harm or to stop, to stop the pain that’s going on the the the not. I I wanted to crawl out of my.
The neurotypical world isn’t fully set up for a neurodivergent mind, so with that in mind, I also know there’s many, many musicians earlier on in their careers, or wherever they are in their careers that are struggling.
As you’ve probably guessed, in each episode of the Brave Front, I’m going to be talking to someone who either has an inspirational story.
To share with us.
Or some invaluable insights into the things many of us struggle with in this episode, I sat down with music producer Andrew Kings, though, who can count John Legend and.
B.B. King, amongst his impressive client list. I wanted to find out about his neurodiversity and how a diagnosis of autism as an adult has helped him to shape a new perspective on his own mental health and to set about.
Music industry for.
Now hard from listening to the debatable bits of indie rock and pop on my own Spotify playlists, I know very little about the music industry itself, and I don’t have a musical bone in.
My body, in fact a handful of tuneless piano lessons and a reluctant attempt with the trumpet Age 11, is about the full extent of my musical skill set. So Andrew’s ability to play countless instruments.
Turn his hand to different styles and genres and to write music for some of the world’s most familiar artists and movie soundtracks to boot. It’s something I have the utmost admiration for.
As is the fact.
That he has done so much and become.
So successful while battling personal demons.
And struggling to come to.
Terms with why his vision of the world.
And the way it works is so different to.
Indeed, Andrew has recently launched a landmark survey to gather the thoughts and opinions of the autistic, ADHD and NEURODIVERGENT community within the music industry in order to gain a better understanding of the challenges and barriers they face.
So it was an.
Absolute pleasure to sit down with Andrew to talk about his personal challenges.
His hopes for the future and how his sister’s guitar aged 4 eventually led him to John Legend’s.
Andrew, welcome to the Brave front. Thank you for joining us today. Really appreciate you taking some time out of.
Your busy day.
To do so, tell me how are you First off?
How’s things, ohm? I I am good. I am.
Embracing the change that is autumn.
Which is something that I don’t always do.
So well, but no, I’m good.
I’m good, but thank you for asking.
And how are?
You, by the way. Yeah, that’s about things.
I feel I’m with you all the change.
Of seasons, it’s always a weird time. It’s a it’s a.
Yeah, yeah, definitely. Where do we find you today? I’m sort of looking. Looks got some artwork in the background. You told me just before you started recording. Where you wanna tell everyone else?
Where where you’re ohh and I’m at 1:00.
Of London’s famous music and.
Media haunts the Groucho Club, but so I’m in Soho, holed up in Soho today and yeah, indeed, there is some, really.
Crazy artwork, actually, I wish. I wish I could share it, but maybe I I.
Can take some pictures.
And send to you. Have you bumped into any celebs or do you?
I’ve not. I had the the the missing fortune or fortune depending on the way you look at it. Yeah, I’ve I’ve I basically came straight into this this hidden room. And I’m. I’m here with you now. So I’ll do my select hunting later.
Hopefully. Nice. Well, they might might.
Might come hunting for you.
Listen, it’s a it’s a Friday afternoon. Where would we normally find you on a Friday afternoon? What does the sort of an average?
Friday. Hold hold, Sophie.
Honestly, Ohh, we could find me anywhere I tend to.
I I spend a lot of time in my recording studio. I’m a music producer.
But generally but my my business is is split between two things now and you know one of the things is moving to is on to the sort of like.
Mental health side.
Of things as well, which is why we probably find each other talking to each other.
But I I have meetings regularly, so today you would normally find me.
In town or in?
A studio. Excellent. And obviously you’ve mentioned you’re you’re a music producer. You’ve made an incredible name.
For yourself over over. Over.
A long career. I’ve obviously done.
My research I’ve looked at your website, looked at the details, everything.
Tell us a little bit.
About your musical journey and I I write.
If I write.
And what what I read and you started playing the guitar at age 4, is that right? Is that where it all started?
It did all start when it was for it started when my sister, of all people, brought a guitar home from school and I kind of looked at this thing and thought, what’s all that about?
There was something about.
The the organised sound that you could get from it and just the way it looked and I just thought it’s sort.
Of like messing.
Around on it I mean so it it’s my intro I taught myself nursery rhymes basically on the top two strings for the for the first part, but it definitely developed into something over time. Yeah for sure. So I would say that I’ve been involved in music.
Since the age of 4.
And I still carry that forward.
Now it’s it’s followed many.
It’s taking me in many directions and followed many guises. How many guises? But yeah, definitely music is the thing for.
Me, that is this is this is not not the time to be modest. Tell me. Tell me. Tell. Tell me a little bit about some of those. Some of those sort of bigger projects you’ve worked on. I’ve seen some of the names and what are you know what do you know? What are you most proud?
What am I?
Of do you know actually. So first of all I’ll try and answer those in the right order. So in terms of the bigger names, I mean a.
Lot of what I’ve done.
Is has crossed.
Such multiple genres, so from anyone from like the the last sort of bigger projects I worked on with the.
John Legend’s latest album, The Soul Superstar.
Lauren’s TV personality, that is John Legend and it’s worked its way back from, you know, from Van Morrison. I went on tour and supporting B.B. King at times, so, and we’re talking sort of heritage acts. I was with Frankie goes to.
Hollywood for a while.
A lot of the 80s, like Nick Kershaw, but also moving into sort of like the modern side of things as well.
Modern modern pop culture as well. So I’ve worked with a lot of the the bigger labels kind of as a writer and a producer.
And and I can count people like Bill and Ted and Jin, Jin and some of the bigger writers that I work with that have got cuts, you know, huge cuts. I mean, Ryan Tedders another guy that I’ve worked with, obviously, I say, obviously.
But you know the the big kind of producers are work in the back room. A lot of the time. So I support the artist as a producer and a writer.
And and then projects that I’m proud of well.
You know some of that? I’ve, I’ve done a lot in the film and TV world as well and actually as we as as I speak to you now, we’re just closing in on starting work on a feature film that I’m exec producing as well as.
You can control all the mud.
That’s I did a kids show called rastamouse.
Ohh Josh, I remember rastamouse yes.
Which so people it was, yeah. People, people of a certain demographic and age will remember that either students, Stoner students that were around the kind of like 19 to 24 age range in 2011 or three to seven-year olds around that time as well. And it was very interesting.
Like this, which are quite exciting, is that those three to seven-year olds are now kind.
Well, you know, 13 to 17. So we’ve got a whole new audience to bring it to and they have very fond memories of it and also the students now have children, potentially that between 3:00 and 7:00. So we’ve got this whole new kind of audience, but it’s gonna be brilliant. So rest of us with something as proud of, and it’s going to be, I’m going to be proud again because we’re bringing the feature film to the world.
But a lot. Yeah, a lot.
Of stuff that I’ve done for children’s music, especially I’ve I’ve kind of ended up being kind of the go to for a lot of the companies with Nickelodeon, Sky, Kids, CBeebies, all of.
These I’ve written a lot for kids, but I’ve written in a way that doesn’t write down to kids. I should write.
Music that kids and their parents will enjoy.
So we, you know, we’ve had multiple sort of nominations for awards and won quite a few awards as well in that realm Baftas etcetera. So yeah, I’m very proud of that. I have to say to win, to win a battle, to win a BAFTA or be nominated for BAFTA is a very heartwarming and you know, it makes it a deal a little bit.
More worth it?
And these long hard nights.
And I I imagine so. I was so just bringing joy to children as well, because that is something. It’s a programme my kids watched growing up and and. Yeah. Yeah. So I know they they enjoyed it. And it’s just like one of.
Those, it’s just happiness in a in a.
In a in a ohh.
And then children’s TV format.
Absolutely. It really. It really had a little life of.
Its own and and there were.
It also moved outside of justice Children’s TV because.
It there was kind of, it was, do you know?
What it was, it was one of the first.
Uh, viral. Uh uh via viral content?
And it at at at the time.
When people weren’t searching for viral content openly on social media, whereas they do now, it went viral. It trended on TikTok every day.
In the top.
Probably in the UK for weeks, every time a new episode came and it trended, but we didn’t have the facilities.
Or happen to.
Put the infrastructure in place to actually capitalise on that. A lot of what we were doing was reactive as opposed to proactive managing press and things like that. It was a bit quite.
A big noise at.
The time. So it’d be very different to see how that would work in the modern world.
And the user.
We do realise 10 years on, social media has taken on a completely it’s a beast, it’s a beast, it’s.
A. It’s a. Yeah, it it’s a it’s obviously it’s a that’s a. It’s a big topic in its own right. That’s that’s the positive and negatives of of that. And obviously I’m sure as you know in terms of when you you you look into the mental health side of things social.
Media has a whole different.
Dynamic to it as well of course. Ohh but.
Listen, tell me you’re living. You’re living.
I mean, you just talk through an incredible.
Career in terms?
Of what? What? You’ve been what you’ve done and what you’ve worked on and who you’ve worked with. You kind of live in the dream, really. In terms of finding you. You’ve turned a hobby and a passion into a into a career. And that’s something I think.
That would everyone would love.
To do, yeah.
Or you know how?
Has that? Have you ever sort of stopped to reflect on that in terms of, you know you are you are doing, you’re getting paid for something that you just love doing and that’s ultimately what we would all love to be able to do?
I mean, you know, I have to take note of the words that you just gave me there really because often we don’t wake up and smell the coffee, so to speak. We’re so caught in the melee and and the survival aspects of the industry and coping with the changes, you don’t often stop. But when you say that, yeah, I do do something that I love.
I’m very grateful, but I can still do something that I love and I’m also very grateful that.
I’m able to transition into other things to do with music.
That I’m also super interested in. I mean talking to you now, doing the podcast, talking about the mental health issues that that we face all of.
These, I think.
When when I really reflect.
I’ve not spent enough time focusing on the.
Positives that you bring up.
And it’s in our makeup.
To actually think about the things that have gone wrong rather than the than the things that have gone right. So actually I thank you for saying that. I take it on board and.
Yes, I do feel very fortunate.
It’s a. It’s a. It’s a. You’re right. It’s a trap. We all fall into sometimes just trying, you know, sometimes we forget how lucky we are to be where we are and and. And, you know, in that current situation because it is you get blinkered by the things that trouble you sometimes, don’t you? I think that’s often often the case.
Absolutely. Yeah. You’ve obviously made a name yourself in, in music, but you also created a new name for yourself and I the.
The neuron Museo.
Tell me a bit about the neuro Museo and what it means and and yeah, just tell.
Me a little bit more. OK, OK, so.
I mean, for some context, I.
Started guitar when I picked the guitar at one of the store. I mean we let’s rewind, rewind, rewind, rewind. As it was, there’s a noise that like that, that’s the rewind noise I’m giving you. We’re back to me. Being for that are there are other things going on around me in my life at the time, but music.
Was that one thing that I could super focus on and I started guitar, moved into piano. I then got accepted to a specialist music school where I received a scholarship and got really insane focused training in music that then led on.
To doing the.
The full music education because you know reading music, string arrangements or casual arrangements, composition, percussion, guitar. But I played I, I’ve played so many different instruments, but at the time all of this felt very natural to me. However, from an outside point of view.
If, like there was what was considered, I guess an I’m just gonna say an inverted commas, an extraordinary talent. Because to me it’s just the norm.
The upshot of all of this is that.
Usually who, who? Your spirit, whether you’re whether you’re godly or whatever you what you’re given in one side of your.
Life taken away from in another.
It’s the. It’s gone to God’s balance or the spiritual balance, or the balance of the universe.
And so I started to.
Struggle with what I now have learned were autistic meltdowns, autistic burnout.
Everything that you associate with kind of like being.
What used to be called high?
Functioning autism. But I’d just say on the ASD scale now on the autistic spectrum, I.
I was suffering.
From a very young age and it really played into most of my life.
It’s built into relationships. It’s built into work, it’s built into finances, everything. Our everything spent, you know, a long time spiralling out of control. I had a diagnosis.
Being autistic spectrum.
So that put a huge that.
I have to say, by the way, that the the diagnosis came from being no longer being able to cope mentally with the with the thoughts, the Burnout Depression cycle, and the anxiety cycle, which I’m happy to talk about, especially on this forum.
So I had a diagnosis. We went.
Into autistic identity therapy that was supported through a company. Sorry, a charity I now work with. Actually, the London Autistic Charity Group or London authority, yes.
And they supported me through this.
And we were coming through.
The other side it’s it’s not been easy because actually when you are diagnosed, I went through.
The stages of grief that people go through because the life that I knew before.
It was completely not what I expect. What I thought it was. I saw everything through a different, different lens, so they’ve helped me come to terms with that helped me come to terms with.
What I feel, why I feel it, how to protect myself in certain situations, especially in the music industry.
So The upshot back.
I’m way round is I now I’ve been working and I’m kind of like doing work.
Within the industry, the music industry are lobbying the music industry as the Neuro Museo.
To try and create a healthier and more understanding environment in which we can all work Better Together because their work there are definitely triggers for me in the music industry, it moves very quickly. It demands a lot of a quick work, it’s it’s very anxiety inducing. There’s always some stress. There’s always a.
A deadline somewhere. There’s always something. So.
I think you know that added to a lot of the the.
Issues that I had.
And we’re working with the industry or the industry and the neurodivergent community within the industry.
Try and make it a more safe space for us all.
Basically fantastic. I mean, I’d like to talk to you more about that.
In terms of in.
Terms of the neurodivergence across the the music industry. It’s not an industry I know very well, so I’m I’m I’m keen to find out more from your point of view in terms of what that’s like and the and the work you’re doing, but let’s just take a step back.
In terms of your your diagnosis 20/20/19, so you’re.
You’re you’re an adult. I I don’t.
Know how old you were at that time?
Anywhere between 30 and 70. Somewhere somewhere you’re an.
You’re an adult, so.
Tell me what life was like before that point in terms of in terms.
Of how how did you?
What were some of the issues and some of the challenges you were facing growing up, you know, into into as a child as an adolescent and growing?
Into, you know, as a man, how how?
Or were those manifesting themselves in everyday life?
OK, so there are key things that are associated with it and it depends on where you are in your, in your cycle of burnout and depression because it is.
First of all I can I can think on a kind of a an interaction on Community level is where.
As as an autistic person, you tend to spend a lot of time being on the peripheral on the outside because.
Maybe people would would know of this, but we tend to what’s called mask a lot. So our our emotional palette.
Doesn’t exist in the way that other peoples does, so a lot of the time you when you’re in a a group situation.
You’re not able to read the room. You’re not able to read the people around you. And so we we tend to kind of complicate things and masks. So if you think of.
Our computer programme is a hell of a lot longer than anyone else’s and takes a hell of a lot more RAM or memory or resource to run because we’re thinking around things all the time, we’re not thinking about feeling. We’re thinking about what someone else might be feeling, that we they can then potentially react around.
Or react to it’s it gets. You can see already neatly. Yeah, that gets very complicated so.
That that added that added.
To the burnout cycle, but also made it very difficult for me to be natural in Group environments. And quite often you’d be referred to as eccentric or.
Yeah, the mad professor. All of these things, all names that.
Given in my.
Life. So there was, in a sense, a disconnect between me and and my environment or the environment, not my environment, the environment, that also I tended to gravitate towards. I put focus.
And so my music as a result and into production and music production so.
Whilst this was a blessing, it could also act as a curse because it’s once again pushing me more into a screen which is kind of what a lot of people do now by the list more into a screen and away from human interaction and content. So I spent more and more time working on my own, taking more and more work.
This is my safe space.
And therefore physically not fully being able to kind of accommodate all of that work as well. So again, the cycle starts again, overwork, burnout.
Anxiety, not wanting to be around people because of the anxiety. But the anxiety is always fed from me not being come from me, not being it. You see it and here we go. Here’s the spasm and the spasm builds and builds and builds and what I tended to find is as I got older.
Yeah. So the chicken and egg situation, isn’t it? Yeah.
Without realising it, these burnouts are getting closer and closer together, which makes perfect sense because I’ve.
And we get more tired. Our brains are as malleable as they used to be. We just don’t.
Have that that emotional.
Strength to to kind of carry these things.
So it you know.
It manifests in in in many.
Many ways really, but but the majority.
I found myself.
Also starting to disassociate, I don’t know you. You come across the term disaster?
But I didn’t.
Feel like I was living my life for a long time and I became the third person or a a character, you know, a narrator of my whole life rather.
Than the person living it.
Old classic old classic.
Quite distressing when you start to, you know.
It’s sometimes that.
That disassociations associate associated with schizophrenia as well. I believe not. Not, you know, this is nothing. I’ve never been anywhere near.
That, but what?
I have found myself doing and what did happen when it really got bad was the urge to self harm or to stop to stop.
The pain that’s going on the the the.
Not I I wanted to crawl.
Out my skin at times, but I couldn’t be in my own body there. There was a way to bring yourself back in to the world was almost to hit yourself back into the world. These things really happen.
And and and. I’m very, very grateful that I got help when.
I did, yeah.
You know, that was pointed in.
The right direction too help because things were getting quite bad, so it was a spiral. It has been a spiral.
Yeah. And now now I know. And with people around me supporting me and the right tools, the idea is to manage that.
It. Yeah, I it’s it’s difficult for somebody who who isn’t in that space to to understand that I can. I can. You know, I I. But you’re explaining it very eloquently and and and in a way that that you know I I really appreciate and I’m I’m just trying to get a sense in terms of in terms of for you that’s that masking I’m assuming you know started at a young age.
And and it’s something that you continue to do and I’m assuming that just grew and grew, did that become harder?
As you got older.
Yeah, yeah. I I’m. I’m laughing. Yeah.
When I was younger, the the music.
I’m. I’m from a very working class background in Manchester and then I just got plucked out scholarship into a school where there were children who were from very wealthy back but.
He’s a massive.
So already there’s an identity loss from who am I as a kid?
He’s like, who the?
Hell, are this like even from?
Just a normal kind of emotional growing up as a child thing point of view.
I’m already a bit lost the the other thing.
That I also felt during during my school time.
Was we didn’t really get an opportunity to to be children because there was a high performing school you you were expected to practise all the time perform at a very high level and also have very good grades in your academic it was it was intense. So that development that happens through the age 12 to 17.
Where you do.
Learn how to interact with your peers and you do learn how to argue and how to debate and all.
Of these things.
It happened on a much more adult.
Level. So we missed that out.
The this this also had a knock on effect the the masking thing we were back to. I need to come.
Back to the point of the of the masking.
I did start very early on masking I did.
Through my music.
I mean I I used to actually I found it very easy to be emotional, more emotional through music, play, shop and bar.
All, all, all the different composers playing this through piano was my way to emote. I’m just trying to think also that it it happens in so on so many levels, not knowing who you are causes you to mask to fit in with everyone else and fit in with your environment again another.
A recognisable symptom of my autism. I I’ve gotta, I’ve gotta say quite quickly. Imagine imagine any relationship that you embark on. If you start from the point of man.
It’s gonna fall apart at some point, and that’s when everything’s gonna point. You can’t keep the energy up and so.
You’re you’re you’re essentially pretending to be to be someone you’re not, essentially.
You need to dig yourself.
Yeah, you’re essentially quite often pretending to be the person that you think of. The people want you to be rather than your very self. It always falls apart.
Eventually, yeah. And sometimes the cataclysmic effect, other times it just sort of like.
Yeah, I’m just like it’s it’s a huge amount of pressure on you in in those situations. So I can’t imagine how hard and challenging that must be. Did there come a point heading towards that time when you were you, you know, you received your diagnosis and you mentioned earlier that it was, you know, as a result of of reaching a point of of?
I hate that.
Of anxiety and depression, which you you got? Yeah.
That led you to.
That was there a point in time.
Where where it reached?
A crescendo, if you like, in terms of how bad things have got for.
Yeah, yeah. I mean with the.
I think it’s it’s probably.
Like with many people, lockdown exacerbated all the issues. Problem. There’s it.
There’s a number.
Of rats was talking to my therapist the other day. I was and knock knock down actually provided solace for me as an autistic person once said, transitioned from the shock.
Because at this point now you were very much in in in control as in.
For a short period of time, the another thing is organisation. For me, the organisation of my time and I like to.
I like my timetable to be organised, I like to do the same thing every day if possible. That’s something that locked down really provided us. It gifted me that for quite a while but what happens then is I also it took me having to interact with people. It took that away. I didn’t have to interact with people on a daily.
Basis because we weren’t allowed to. Yeah. So actually it’s true. So actually coming back into the world.
Was really hard. Well, we all hate change, I think. Well, I say that I think change is the big thing and that’s that’s the big trigger for anxiety for me. Well, there’s a big change and that’s what locked down really highlight. It is one massive change into another boom like that. But then also it highlight the fact that.
Things can change at any point in the modern world as well.
And we’re constantly in a state of flux and for a mind that wants to be organised and move in a singular direction, that’s really hard.
So. So tell me what actually led you then to the diagnosis at that point and in terms you you mentioned that you said that you had signposted that way. So was there somebody or or or a a position that helped you?
I was going.
Going through an another round of CBT.
And every time I did CBT.
I felt a little bit worse than better.
But one of the upshots of the CBT with the therapist was you shouldn’t everything that you’re talking about at the moment, and this is a joint realisation. Maybe you should.
Do a test.
Maybe you should look at it. You know, just even an online one.
And and well.
I thought you know what people have said. You know people have.
Anecdotally mentioned to me, oh, you’re clearly on.
The spectrum, thank you, yes.
And I thought you.
Know I’ll just go and do it and I think I.
Scored like 26 or 27 out of 30 on this test. It’s like.
I’m depressed, bordering on suicidal. I can’t make sense of anything anymore and I look at this.
And you know it really.
I I really ought to do something with it this time, so I’ve found that a charity on Instagram and just reached just typed it and they were able to point me in the right direction and help me and get the help I need get.
The you know everything I needed was.
Credible and that is.
How did you?
Feel about how did you feel about that, that taking that?
Step did you did?
You want to to to to get that diagnosis. Were you worried about getting that diagnosis or or or how were you? What were your thoughts going into?
That on that desperation.
I was. I was. I was desperate. I it’s. I can’t go on it. It wasn’t. I can’t go on like this anymore. The crippling anxiety, the social anxiety, the.
Everything, everything I was, I was self medicating in in ways that I shouldn’t have been to cope with things as well.
We just just to get me in a room where I didn’t, where I felt like it was part of the room, you know, I was a, you know, resorting to self medicating.
Which in turn was making the anxiety worse and every, you know. And there’s another, it’s just a constant constant, sort of like cycles and.
It was like I need to do something. I need to do something. As for me it primarily but also with the people around me that care because it’s, you know, it’s. I’m it it it got to a I I was kind of a destructive frame of mind like if I’m thinking this through now with you know I’m actually trying to cogitate it myself.
But I knew.
I had to.
Had to do something before it was too late.
And when you say before it’s too late. What? What do you mean? Do you think that were you you suicidal at?
We’ll see later.
That point, were you?
Were you were you have thoughts of suicide?
I was. I was.
I was bordering on it. They were coming more. They were. It was becoming more and more.
I was fantasising about it more.
And I don’t think I’m. I’m I don’t think I was ever a candidate for actual suit. Well, I mean, I don’t know how far I I’ve got to where I’ve got and got help. So I don’t know how much further I could have gone.
But it yeah, it was. It was really. Yeah, it was tough. Really. Really.
Tough. So what? What came next? Obviously that’s that’s that’s the that’s the dark place you were in. And and and you know you the charity with charity was there to help you. And what what could next?
It came. What comes next is a gradual.
The gradual journey, the relearning me, the acceptance of me, and and who I am, what my boundaries, learning my boundaries.
Learning what I can give them, what I can’t. I it was really it was relearning me with the new mindset with the.
With new information.
Did it take a weight off your shoulders at all in terms of, you know, knowing I am autistic this this is who I am. Did that almost in a way having that?
That recognition and that and that diagnosis to that kind.
Of lift a pressure off you in any way.
Yeah, 100 percent, 100%. I mean, I wouldn’t say initially. Initially it was like as like I mentioned, you know, grief earlier, you know you you feel.
And I don’t wanna, I I I I don’t ever take the word grief lightly and the.
In you know, obviously I I’m grieving something that other people.
Have and at it.
I I I felt the anger.
Felt the sadness I’ve felt, the frustration it was, you know, but the overarching feeling in the end is relief.
Because I now.
My world is more real.
It’s more real, more relatable to me.
And what was the the reaction from your, your family and friends and and and peers? It’s it’s like what?
Oh, sorry I couldn’t be there.
It was something that I.
Had to explain very, very carefully mean.
A bunch of people, they said what?
Like you didn’t.
Know already the.
Usual. It’s like it’s it’s funny.
You know, it’s like everyone knows who’s the alcoholic, but no one ever tells them.
In the ring.
You know. Yeah, I’m an.
Alcoholic. What you didn’t know?
No. So there was a.
There was a whole load of people.
They said, yeah, we we knew already. I mean, go tell me something new.
Oh man, my but my parents are like obviously I love them dearly, but they was it.
Was hard, hard for them to understand, I.
Guess, but I just explained it in in a way that I could and.
And this is the other thing, because I did, I didn’t realise that my emotional connection with them was also it’s it’s.
A lot better.
Now actually the way I feel and the way.
I can be with them, I think.
It’s a lot better because before us it completely emotionally stunts it. It’s like there’s just a complete lockdown.
Would you would you have used that masking with your parents and?
Your family as well.
Oh, God, yeah. Yeah. Ohh God.
Yeah, I was so awkward in in situations, in fact.
I I used to find it really, really hard going home to. I moved to London quite a long time ago from Manchester. They’re all still there. He’s super, super hard.
To go home, the anxiety levels on my way home.
Was so high it it kept me away from home for such.
Time and I never really, you know, on unwound all of that or just got to grips with thought what that was. But there were, you know, a whole number of reasons. And I I.
Think that having.
To mask quite often as well, like we went, I was so burnt out by the time I got home, I collapsed. There’s obviously like there is a safe space.
I and then I could I?
Could I? Could he couldn’t even? Hardly.
They they, they say, autistic burnout, and I actually was describing my burnout as this before I had read it. It’s like the computer has to shut down and then you have to reboot and in order to that process is that everything slumps your mind the whole lot. And again, I know going up at.
Its engine? Yeah. You have to pull me back.
Online. That’s OK, that’s OK.
Yeah, sometimes I say that I actually.
No worries, no worries.
Going back to going back to like being with with friends and family and stuff, have you since since your diagnosis have has it have you?
Felt able to sort of be your your true self.
Law and and.
How have they taken to that?
RA would say it’s the work in progress.
I would say it’s a work in progress because.
I I I truly believe that we are. I am certainly on the edge of the generation that that look at mental health differently.
Are you know, in honesty, there’s a stoicism in the older generations that I massively respect, you know, the, the, the, the post world, just post World War 2, the baby boomers, all of it. I massively respect it, but I think it makes it very difficult to engage directly about what my mental health issues might be.
So you know, that’s my honest truth. But that but then there are people, but then there are people that are, you know, very open to.
That as well so.
Yeah, I imagine that’s that’s different. People are gonna react to different ways, I imagine. Of course. Tell me a little bit about the sort of the mission you’re on now in terms of.
And you know, this is a big journey you’ve been on personally, but you’ve kind of taking it now to the.
Wider industry and and.
Yeah, try to look.
At at how you can potentially support or at least recognise the challenges that others face.
In the music.
Industry tell me a little bit about that and.
Tell me a little bit about your work in that area.
OK, so I.
Struggles quite to get to the point that I might now where is a point of. It’s not perfection, but it’s more equilibrium. In order to do that actually I’ve also had to I’m going on my own. I’m going on my sober journey now as well. I’m having to. I’m having honestly, I’ve gone.
In so many different ways, but.
All of this is not well, it’s. It’s certainly freed up time for me to think about.
Now I’m at this point in my career, what I can actually do to put something back in.
I know I.
Know I’ve had difficulty work in certain environments. I don’t know. Certain environments have had difficulty working properly with me in them.
I’m just gonna take accountability on both sides here, right? But that’s.
The neurotypical world isn’t fully set up for a neurodivergent mind, so with that in mind, I also know there are many, many musicians earlier on in their careers, wherever they are in their careers, that.
They’ve taken music as their special focus and and they are I I know so many musicians that I if I as or certainly show signs of being ASD or ADHD.
Or bias, which is the equally possible so.
I’ve managed to and this is.
With the help.
Of again, the charity that really helped me out, the LA London Autistic charity group, we’ve put together a survey with the University of Bedfordshire. It’s gonna be the first sort of of its type. It’s a clinical.
Survey I’d I’d say clinical surveys. It’s got full research department on it and what?
To do, we want to find out.
The the the positives and the negatives and the difficulties and just anything we want, we want people stories we wanna know about what they’ve struggled with. We wanna we wanna know about everything to do with the music.
So that we can put all that information together.
And take it to the wider music community with a view to putting in a set of guidelines.
Almost a toolkit, if you will to, you know, help us all work together. And I mentioned it earlier. So we’re quite early on that journey. The surveys already out and promoting it at the moment and we’ve got some great support from industry, industry bodies, back ham.
Who work in mental health in the music industry. The PRS, they’re a collection agency within the music. The collection agent for the music industry.
Uh, we’ve got law firms. I’m I talk regularly with Simpkins law firm.
One of the big.
Media and entertainment law firms we’re we’re all getting together to kind of push this forward because it’s a massive conversation that’s opened up and I’m using, you know, my experience and hopefully my voice to kind of amplify this message.
The message across the music industry just to.
Help, I’d just say I don’t know a great deal about the music industry. Yeah, not a world I’m familiar with, but. But as someone who who is and has worked in it for as long as you have do, do you?
It is. It has some issues around inclusivity when it comes to the Neurodivergent community. Or is it something that you just.
Think it just hasn’t added.
It’s not even just inclusivity, it’s protection as well. I mean, you know, you’re 9 times more likely to become addicted to substances if you’ve tried them as an autistic.
Or on the ADO HD spectrum. So. And that’s just you know that’s that’s being data gathered from a study I think it was Cambridge I think please don’t quote me no the music industry into that.
And deadlines and touring and this and that it and there are, you know, there are actually charities within the music industry that are helping musicians.
That are really struggling with addiction as well.
The and it’s one of.
Those industries, I don’t know how to say it in a in a in a polite way, but it’s slightly it. It doesn’t encourage the use, but it doesn’t discourage either. You know it’s it’s been glamourised somewhat along the way we all.
No, we all know. So it’s about that as well really.
And what’s your?
Hopes ultimately for for for the survey and the results that come from it, until you mentioned a set.
Of guidelines but.
Presumably as well, you, you, you know you do.
You do you sort.
Of dream of, of a, of a time when neurodivergent people can can see and young people in particular can see.
Music industry as a as a career that.
Is welcoming to them.
Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. But also I think it’s we, we it’s about building up a community as well within the industry where there’s support and there’s a support network because currently that doesn’t exist specifically. There is no, there is no specific place to go to.
I know that because I couldn’t find it and I had to search outside of it. Now I think ideally I’d like to see a place where that, you know that is.
That is possible. I’d like to see a time where there is a community we can go to. I’d love to be a part of that if it happens, or at least.
Support it, you know.
What I was.
Gonna say and and.
What about you personally being involved in a project?
At that and being being a A a champion for others and being a a voice as well.
Self. How does that make you feel? Do you are?
You are you. I’m. I’m.
Assuming you’re very proud of that.
You should be.
I’m not of that. I I’ve had.
My I’ve had moments like when this, you know, we.
Did all this work to get the survey?
Together and we.
Had all these zoom calls and.
And then when when.
The thing actually happened. What’s been do you know what? What’s been most?
Wonderful is the is the feedback from people around me. Actually it’s like you don’t realise whether you’re whether something you’re doing like this has value until it’s out in the world. It’s like, well, we’ll just it. There is a bit of a well, let’s build it and see if they can kind of thing, but I even have people, people like. It’s even someone people ringing me today. Like someone rang me today just to say, you know what, I had nothing. I have no.
Reason to call you other than to.
Say I’m really.
Proud of what you’re doing and I just wanted to thank you for doing it. It’s coming. It’s coming from all directions. So this isn’t.
I I feel.
I just I’m I’m very.
Grateful for people’s feedback. I’m very grateful for yeah for the response. If there is anything even.
If it’s just.
The conversation opens up a bit wider and we do create a community that’s that’s something for me because.
It’s such a fragmented community at the moment and in life, you know, everything’s so fragmented. We’re all in these little pockets of social media bubble just to be able to come together and actually talk.
On the level, it’s yeah, even. Yeah. Great. I think, Mr feel, I feel proud.
You should you.
You. Yeah, absolutely right, you.
Should you definitely, definitely should and.
What about you personally in terms of your own journey, you said you still got a little way to go. You feel what’s what’s next for you on your personal journey with with autism and sort of personally professionally?
Oh, it’s a big question. What’s next for me?
I I’ve had a very bad mood mentally. I’ll I’ll level with you.
Are all August and September were really quite bad and very anxious. I’ve I’ve this isn’t.
So honestly, it’s to keep. It’s to. It’s to keep moving forward and to and to manage and to learn to manage better.
And to learn to manage better around those that I learn.
UM, so it is. It’s very much a working in.
Programme. There’s no, there’s no.
There’s no cure.
That’s the other thing. It’s just it you got to put the work in. So my journey it it’s it’s ongoing. You said you said was it my hopes did you say?
Or yeah, just just just if you if.
You were to look five years down the line. Where do you see see where do you hope to?
Five years down the line.
Well, honestly, but because there.
Are there are a number of there?
Are a number of projects happening at the moment, but I’d love to be in a point.
Where I am at the moment I’m actually say for instance looking at doing.
A. A qualification in counselling of some description so that that’s part.
Of it still.
Create music. Always be creating music, but always be creating.
Music and sometimes.
I felt like I’ve fallen out of love with it and I’ve moved away and then I’ve always been drawn back in creating music, helping people.
And creating things that.
Whatever they are that.
Are that bring me pride?
And that means something.
Well, I think I’ll certainly are the right.
On the right.
Head. Yeah, you’re definitely heading in the.
Right direction with the with the everything.
Thank. Thank you.
I wish you all the very best.
Of luck. Final question for you.
What? What would?
Your advice be to to men who might be listening to this, who maybe maybe have haven’t reached that point of diagnosis yet themselves, but maybe recognising from your words and and what you’ve you’ve talked through today. So honestly and openly, it may recognise some of that in themselves. What would your?
Advice be to those guys.
My advice, and this is just my advice, obviously.
And just find try and find the right help that there.
Are I mean I?
Reached out to my that that that if you can look at.
That there are.
Help numbers within the local council. I even reached out to my local council and I managed to get a a certain type of.
Therapy and really, really difficult times.
But I I would say it is the.
Question and this is the thing, it’s.
I I know I’m not really making much sense.
But it’s such a.
Sensitive finding the right help is key.
Where would someone start? Where? Where would? Where would you suggest they?
Start. I mean you could start with the. You can start with National Autistic Society. You could even even you know honestly. Anyone, anyone struggling, reach out to me and I can help you find the right place wherever you are in the country you can get me on my Instagram and just reach out. That’s absolutely fine.
But it’s it’s looking.
This is such a really this is a really.
Difficult question, sorry.
To end on.
A difficult question.
No, no, it’s no.
I think it’s a bad question, I think I.
Should I think I should be able to answer this because it it really does come to your to going to your doctor to going to, reaching out, to help lines, to reaching out to anyone that can offer.
Advice, but definitely the people that I found in London, they they were the ones that chased it all for me. You.
Know so yeah, I. But I was very.
Fortunate and this actually me.
Not being able to answer this question also throws up into the air. Where is the?
Support because this is.
Another problem that I found.
There isn’t the support, so this is and I’m really. So please anyone feel free to reach out to me and I’ll help you find it. And I’ll even just being here to listen to.
Thank. Thank you very much for that offer. I’ll, I’ll make sure that we put all the links to on on the show notes and put the links to your, your, your Instagram and everything.
Put the links to the survey as well and put do whatever we can to help spread the word.
Andrew, thank you so much for your time today. I really, really appreciate it. It’s been absolutely fascinating and and honestly take something from it. So thank you for your time have.
Oh, thank you.
A good day. Enjoy.
No, thank you.
Enjoy the rest of the your.
Time with the Groucho. Whatever you.
Ohh, thank you. I’m gonna go celeb hunting now. Nice. Nice. Alright, take care. Thanks. Alright. Alright. See you.
That’s it for another episode. Thanks to Andrew Kingsley for being so open about his experiences and challenges. If you’re in the music industry and would like to take part in Andrew’s ground Breaking survey, you’ll find a link to it.
Show notes and if you’d like to listen to John Legend’s latest album, well, you can find that pretty much everywhere.
Don’t forget you can keep the conversation going by answering our episode question, and for this episode we’d like to know, has music helped your mental health? You can answer it on the Spotify episode page, the link to which could be found in.
The episode notes or.
Through the entry site in the show.
Profile. You can also of.
Course interact with the show by.
Sending us a voice message.
We’re always really keen to hear what you think of our guests and the subjects we’re discussing. So tell us whether you could relate to Andrew’s story and how your own autism has impact.
In your life, you can also tell us your ideas for topics and things you’d like us to cover. Again, just head on over to the episode notes or to the entry site for more details and the.
Links to if.
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In the meantime, though.
Look after yourselves.
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