31 → Småland, Sweden → Music Maker & Label Boss → Bipolar → Medication, Therapy, Exercise.
R: Hi Anya, so, who are you?
A: My name is Anya Trybala but family nickname is Ninoosh – which has turned into my stage name.
R: Where do you live?
A: Sweden – in a teeny town called Sandsjöfors in Småland but moving to Malmö very soon.
R: How old are you?
R: What do you do?
A: I’m a music maker and label boss.
I make and perform electronic music under my moniker Ninoosh and I have just started a music collective called Synth Babe Records – we exist to champion women making and playing music with synths and bursts and create more equality in the music industry.
R: How long have you been doing it?
A: I started playing the trumpet at the age of 9 – music always made sense to me and I had the natural ear for it. I have been producing electronic music using Ableton Live for about 5 years and am continually developing my skills. The software is amazing! The record collective was launched late last year, so it’s still quite a new enterprise.
“I do it for the passion of making music – it’s like therapy”
R: Do you enjoy it?
A: Of course! Although in the past the pressure to ‘make it’ in the music industry was so great I stopped completely at some points. I do it for the passion of making music – it’s like therapy, which is probably why I started my own label – to follow my own rules. I am also passionate about bringing female talent to the forefront and making music that they want, not what ‘sells’.
R: What did you do before?
A: I’ve worked as an actor (my biggest role was in a children’s series called Wicked Science) creative producer, event manager and I’ve collaborated with awesome social enterprises in my hometown of Melbourne, Australia including The Social Studio, which offers training in fashion design and hospitality for the refugee community, as well as Infoxchange, which uses technology to achieve better social justice. I also recently discovered a passion for jewellery making and for a small time had my own label called Shy Piece – something I will revisit in the future for sure – when I get a proper set-up!
“I’ve discovered that I’m more of a country bumpkin – I’ve lived in big cities and suburbs all my life but actually LOVE nature”
R: Did you study?
A: I studied media and communications, music production and a short course in jewellery making. I’d love to do a masters in music or composition, but that’s down the line – not quite ready yet
R: What makes you happy?
A: Hanging out in the Swedish countryside with my fiancé, patting dogs, making music, crafting. I’ve discovered that I’m more of a country bumpkin – I’ve lived in big cities and suburbs all my life but actually LOVE nature and ‘filling my cup’. I’ve also started a sound art project called 100 Samples – where I record sounds around me and make them into samples to be used in future productions.
R: When did your Bipolar begin?
A: Well, I was actually diagnosed with Bipolar Type II – which is slightly different from Bipolar Disorder – at 29. My lows are similar but the mania is not as extreme – it’s referred to as hypomania. It’s a really difficult condition to diagnose as it’s not as obvious as type 1. I would say since I was a child – I was overly-sensitive, paranoid and found it difficult to concentrate at school and as a teenager had quite strong depression – watching the news was toxic for me. I suppose it was all boiled down to the fact that maybe it was part of my personality or something like that – my sister copped the brunt of my mood swings, which I often feel sad about. I wish I could have controlled it earlier.
Treating this condition has not only saved my life, but also brought out the most creativity I have ever experienced – but in a balanced way that I actually finish project rather than let the perfectionism control it.
R: How would you describe Bipolar in your own words?
A: Tricky, rollercoaster and sometimes deceitful – but I have felt like I’ve managed it pretty well over the last few years.
R: How does Bipolar interfere with a normal day?
A: I feel since my diagnosis I have been able to manage it pretty well. I have to check in to make sure I’m not overdoing it with projects – a symptom of Bipolar II is starting lots of projects and not finishing them and having racing ideas – so I have to check in to make sure my goals are realistic. My partner is my rock and we have been through some tough shit – but are on the other side and have started to really identify those triggers. I can understand how mental health issues can tear relationships apart though. Thankfully he stood by my side. He’s a gem.
“It’s a scary prospect living your whole life with a condition that needs to be carefully managed – so of course it would be easier without it. The fact that the suicide statistics are quite high with this condition is also scary, I have to be really careful.”
R: Have you experienced stigma in regards to your mental health?
A: Actually no, not really. Especially since I started writing about my experiences – I get messages from friends, acquaintances and strangers about how reading my writing has helped their situation. It’s important to share battle stories! I do sometimes feel stigmatised because I take medication, which I think is wrong.
R: Have you found any positive aspects of Bipolar?
A: It’s made me really self-aware and I live a healthier life – I don’t drink as much alcohol as I used to, I exercise to keep my moods in check (mood apps are helpful!) and I feel more attuned to other’s emotional energy – and when I do drink the mood gets so flat – but I know it’s because of the alcohol. Maybe my creativity is due to the condition, I’m not sure – but thankful I’m still here.
R: If you had the option to lose your Bipolar would you?
A: It’s a scary prospect living your whole life with a condition that needs to be carefully managed – so of course it would be easier without it. The fact that the suicide statistics are quite high with this condition is also scary, I have to be really careful.
R: Please introduce your music!
A: It’s a mix of electronic and organic instruments, lots of vocal layers and sounds – full of feelings.
— Ninoosh (@ninooshmusic) January 23, 2016
R: You have an album coming out?
A: I just launched my first EP Town of Two Hundred on June 19 – 6 songs that have spanned about 10 years! It was recorded, mixed and mastered at Sound Machine Studios in Melbourne by my good friend Paul Lambert who co-produced the EP and mastered by Dave Cooper. It features backing vocals from Eddie Fitzpatrick, Manny Sharrad (who was in one of my fave bands Infusion) drums by Pat Nicholas and cello from Jess Keeffe and extra guitar from Gonzalo Pérez de la Ossa. Lots’ of lunch soundscapes.
My next EP will be a sample-based EP and then maybe an album in 2017. I’ll see how it all goes. I’m focusing on developing my live show with beautiful projection art and maybe even dancers down the line – technology is amazing.
— Ninoosh (@ninooshmusic) June 22, 2016
— Ninoosh (@ninooshmusic) November 25, 2015
R: Were you officially diagnosed by a health professional with Bipolar? Did they prescribe medication? Do you take medication?
A: For years since my early 20s I was diagnosed with having depression, post traumatic stress and general anxiety disorder – all from different psychologists and specialists. It wasn’t until I was given the wrong medication from a GP and things went seriously downhill that a psychiatrist who I saw afterwards thought I may have this condition. I was given alternative medication and then stabilised quickly. It was a mix of Lexapro and Valproate – a stabiliser usually given to people with epilepsy and it worked a treat for me. Medication is not for everyone and not everyone responds to it – it can take YEARS for the correct combination and they can stop working – but it should not be shameful to take it. It can save lives (but also unfortunately take lives) so it’s important to be thoroughly assessed before taking medications – through a psychiatrist – and if that psychiatrist ain’t working then see another one.
“I certainly don’t miss the cost of psychology visits in Australia – so expensive and sometimes difficult to access.”
R: How do you best manage Bipolar? ( therapy, medication, meditation, yoga, alternative medicines or ?)
A: At the moment through medication and therapy. I moved to Sweden recently so I am still seeking a good psychologist and just navigating the system – I miss my team in Melbourne! But I certainly don’t miss the cost of psychology visits in Australia – so expensive and sometimes difficult to access. Exercise also works to stabilise me.
R: Do you feel as if you’re in control of your Bipolar?
A: For now I am.
R: If you could go back and give yourself some advice on Bipolar, what would you say? What would you do differently?
A: Perhaps get treated for this condition earlier? Not sure. It would have helped myself and family if I had been treated earlier.
R: Do you tell friends, family and colleagues about Bipolar?
A: I’m pretty open about it – but I also get that some people don’t understand it.
R: Do you know others with Bipolar?
A: A few – they are all artists and creative folk, which is why I make that association with creativity. It’s helpful to chat with others who are in the same boat.
R: How do you educate yourself on Bipolar? Do you read specific blogs, magazines or news articles, follow youtubers or other activists??
A: I try not to read too much about it – I follow my instincts. Although I really like The Permission Project!
R: Have you read any great books about Bipolar?
A: Nope, I don’t have the patience to read books at the moment – I get too distracted. Articles and essays are better for me right now I think!
R: Or seen any movies?
A: I really liked Stephen Fry’s documentary The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive.
R: Can you recommend any therapists / doctors / specialists / coaches / mentors / clinics / foundations?
A: I really like The Mighty – which focuses on all sorts of conditions but they have powerful stories. The Black Dog Institute in Australia is also pretty good. My psychologist Louise Van Smeerdijk in Melbourne pretty much saved my life!
R: What’s on your horizon for 2016?
A: Hopefully touring my show around Europe – seeking opportunities at the moment. Releasing a compilation on my label called Babes of…Melbourne later in the year in collaboration with a techno collective called Node featuring female electronic music producers and artists – and just growing my business and spread the Synth Babe love – and improve my Swedish.
R: What’s next for your Bipolar?
A: To keep in check. Write about my experiences. Make music and craft things.
R: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Don’t bottle up the darkness.
R: Thanks Anya!
Rodger Hoefel in conversation with Anya Trybala
Images supplied by Anya Trybala