C.J. Mitchell addresses mental health in 'The Survival of C.J. Mitchell' | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

C.J. Mitchell addresses mental health in 'The Survival of C.J. Mitchell'

C.J. Mitchell's latest song, "The Survival of C.J. Mitchell," opens with the poignant harmonizing vocals of a choir. The foreboding beat is then met with Mitchell's gospel-like vocals singing, "I say good morning to my demons / since I discovered they are friends."

The work is driven by adversity and being truthful to himself.

"My passion is the queer community," he says. "I’ve been so inspired by our diversity and compassion and the stories that make us so unique and powerful. I use music to tell these stories and I’m sincerely blessed to have the opportunities from Pride Festival performances to music videos to do so."

Clocking in over six minutes, "The Survival of C.J. Mitchell" is a moving track about self-discovery, overcoming obstacles, and addressing mental health. City Paper chatted with Mitchell about to find out more how "The Survival" came to be.

Where did you draw inspiration for the song?
The inspiration for this song honestly came from a very intense and transitional Fall 2019. A lot of life-changing things happened to me all at once and I was daily struggling to make sense of them all. So one day I heard that there were five stages of grief and the last one is referred to as acceptance. That really resonated with me. So much so that on a walk through the park one day this song just started pouring out of me and ended up being everything I’d been trying to find a way to explain. Instead of taking inventory of all my failures and fears I consciously decided to own up to them. Then eventually I started to appreciate them and what they had taught me. Hence, “I say good morning to my demons / since I discovered they are friends”.

It's darker than your previous songs. Why did you decide to go in that direction?
I definitely understand why it comes across as darker than my previous records. However, what reads as darkness is really just pure honesty. I literally became a different person since my last album and I wanted to take this opportunity to show that. Music is interesting because a songwriter can sit and go through their releases in chronological order and see where and how they grew emotionally. This song could easily have been a Halloween season type of release but the lyrical content may have been overshadowed by the mood. I released it now so it can stand on its own as one of the moments I became way more artistically free!

You happened to release it amidst the pandemic. What ties do you think people will draw with lyrics like "You will be grateful for the storm"?
I think the ties are endless to be honest. This song was released during a pandemic with a chorus that repeats three times just to fully remind the listener that life “storms” are really just a series of victories depending on how you look at them. I read Facebook statuses and Instagram stories during quarantine and I realize social distancing is the first time a lot of people are meeting themselves. Things we haven’t unpacked and dealt with mentally and emotionally are now front and center with no distractions. I really wanted this song to be a help to those who are afraid or alone or isolated and battling mental health issues.

Anything else you feel is important to know about yourself or the song?
This song is now available on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, and all other streaming services. “Survival” was the first song written for an entire mental health album I’m still creating. This album will address forgiveness, disappointment, the trans community, therapy, self-love, heartbreak, depression, being black in the gay community, nature as therapy, music as therapy, quarantine, spirituality, and even falling in love. Writing this album is the most brave and liberated I’ve ever felt in my life, so stay tuned!

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