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Life & Work with Christopher Tait

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christopher Tait.

Hi Christopher, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’ve been a music industry professional for over nineteen years. Writing, performing and producing, most notably with Detroit band Electric Six, and formerly as a freelance curator with Apple Music in Culver City. I was born in Detroit and returned there in 2015 to begin work on Passenger Recovery. Passenger is a small nonprofit that helps musicians and crew touring in recovery from substance use disorder.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I think every creative is challenged with forging their own path to a certain extent. It isn’t easy, but we don’t get into this industry because we’re scared of a challenge! The first nine years of my career were spent with a heavy focus on drugs and alcohol. By the end of my usage, my health, finances and connection to friends/family were all failing. Honestly, the hardest part of getting into recovery was to stop buying into my own bullshit and start getting real. I’d convinced myself that I was the only one with these problems in an industry that is riddled with substance use disorder. It took a complete dismantling of my ego to start seeing the gifts I’d been given, with music and life in general. The next ten have been focused on getting better, working with others at a treatment center, and eventually starting Passenger Recovery to support music folks in recovery. There is great power in feeling that connection of shared experience with others who have had the same struggles on the road. And there are a lot of us.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’m very proud of my work with Electric Six – we’re the musical equivalent of a used car salesman – like a rock band with a game show host as a singer. Growing up as someone with a sense of impending doom, I gravitated towards very serious music (a lot of Nick Drake, a LOT of Joy Division). It took awhile to appreciate the amount of happiness E6 gives people by throwing a dance party at every show. The group helped me realize that a band can still be very serious about the music (we do everything ourselves, from producing albums to changing fenders on the tour trailer) while not taking themselves so seriously. I’m also very proud of the work I’ve done with Passenger. Creatives and those in the industry work long, strange hours. While my relationship with drugs and alcohol began long before I was touring professionally, that lifestyle only enhanced and gave it permission. I believe that musicians and crew should not have to give up their passions due to potentially toxic work environments. We help folks coming through town with information regarding and transportation to support meetings and resources to take on the road to stay connected.

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
I think a lot of important conversations were started when the wheels of the music industry came to a halt, predominantly about mental health and diversity. From checking in more frequently with regards to personal wellness to a level playing field for all who wish to find a career in music. I believe a lot of good has come from a very difficult time in our lives; The question as the wheels begin to turn again is whether those conversations will bear fruit. As an addict/alcoholic in recovery, I can now jump into a 12-step meeting any time of day; To me, that is miraculous. However, I believe we have a long way to go where underrepresented populations in our field are concerned.

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Image Credits
Salwin George, Mark Wright

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