Mothica Finds Recovery & Creativity in Blue Hour
Mothica is the audio/visual project of McKenzie Ellis. Like a moth, nocturnal yet drawn to the light, her lyrics balance clever wordplay doting on intimate and often dark life experiences. As she prepares to release her upcoming album, Blue Hour, she is getting ready to share her story with those who need to hear it.
We sat down with Mothica to discuss how music helped her navigate through dark moments, how becoming sober fuelled her creativity, and what we can do to be better allies to those experiencing mental health challenges.
What does the term “Blue Hour” mean to you?
It’s the physical phenomena of the sky right after sunset and before sunrise when the light is tinted blue. It’s a phrase I’ve had in my “song title ideas” note for years but I’m not sure where I first heard it. Experiencing blue hour is very surreal and inspiring. I love how cinematic everything feels for this short moment.
What was the inspiration behind naming your album “Blue Hour?”
I think I’m drawn to how temporary it is, and that it’s a transition from night to day, which mirrors the transition in my life I’m going through currently. In dealing with my depression and addiction, I feel like I’m going through a drastic change in my surroundings, so it was a fitting title.
What do you hope listeners to take away from the new album?
I hope they feel connected to me through our shared experiences. I hope they feel heard and supported. And even if they don’t relate to the subject matter, I hope they feel empowered and inspired.
How did songwriting help you through your mental health journey?
Growing up, the idea of being a musician never crossed my mind as an option because it was such a sacred and private outlet for me. I lost some of my passion for writing music when I started to try to make it my full time career, but that all changed when I was trying to get sober. Suddenly, my heart opened up and I truly feel like I NEEDED to be in the studio to get out every emotion I had suppressed for so long.
What led you to taking the first step to seeking professional help?
I saw many, many therapists when I was in high school. After college, I didn’t have a therapist but I was constantly having health issues related to my depression and drinking so I started watching TED Talks about sobriety. One of the videos mentioned a medication for alcohol cravings and I called up a psychiatrist I had seen previously and started working with her.
What are some of the challenges you faced while asking for help?
I think I’m pretty good at asking for help, because I feel like I’m incredibly self-aware of my flaws and want to make sure other people hear them straight from the source! The issue wasn’t asking for help from others, it was an issue with asking for help from myself, if that makes sense. I always joked about my depression or alcoholism but I never did anything to fix it until this year. I finally found the willingness to change.
What would you say to others who are struggling, or in recovery?
Talk about it. Ask for advice from someone you admire. Stay in the day, moment, or second. It’s so easy for our brain to catastrophize situations into death sentences. Be easy on yourself, because with mental illness and addiction, just getting out of bed and staying sober is a huge accomplishment. Something that helped me, which sounds bleak at first, is knowing that nothing outside of myself is going to “cure” my thinking. Getting the car, the lover, the job, the house, the shoes — none of that is going to make you feel whole. There’s always going to be another thing you’re yearning for. Understanding that took a lot of pressure off of me, because now I can focus on being kind and making work I’m proud of without worrying about the outcome.
How can someone be an ally or good friend to individuals facing mental health challenges?
Everyone handles their demons differently so I’ll only answer for myself: Be gentle, but persistent. Answer the phone. Listen without judgment. Call me out if I’m being cold or hurtful. Don’t take my occasional silence personally. Invite me to events or just to coffee, so I’ll have a reason to leave the house.
Mothica will be performing a showcase at The Drake Hotel in Toronto Dec. 16th in support of Unison.
Learn more and buy tickets here:
The powerful story-telling nature of music can help you feel less alone, but sometimes it’s not enough. Unison is here for our music community in those dark times. If you need someone to talk to, register with Unison to receive help from licensed counsellors through our Counselling & Health Solutions program.
Call 1-855-9UNISON to receive free assistance today.