Holed up in a seaside village in Germany next door to his mom’s house, Felix Jaehn has no complaints. He’s taking walks in the countryside, cooking meals with his family and gardening in his backyard. Last weekend, he celebrated his birthday with a weekend trip to Denmark. It’s almost like he’s a normal 26-year-old, putting a Freaky Friday-like spin on his typical superstar DJ lifestyle.
This change-up surprisingly comes as a relief for Jaehn. In 2015, at just 20 years old, he found himself launched out of his tiny, 100-person village and into a global touring schedule, following the now triple-platinum certified release of his remix of OMI’s “Cheerleader.” Since then it’s been life in the fast lane, releasing his debut album, the two-sided I, in 2018 and playing two—sometimes even three—shows in a single day.
It all came to a grinding halt this past year, when Jaehn started to experience anxiety and panic attacks sparked by the rapid changes contrived by a career in the music industry. He tried therapy, meditation and even hypnosis, and in December, he headed to a Buddhist monastery for a mindfulness retreat. With the right, effective routine and a new perspective on life, Jaehn is now back to writing and releasing music from his home studio on the coast.
"I live more by the perspective that less is more, and most of the joys are in the simple things for me. Truly only life in the present moment can make you happy because it’s all we’ve got,” he told EDM.com. “Right now, I’m just doing what I love and what I feel is beautiful, and what moves me. As long as what I create is honest and real, there’s nothing to lose. It’s all good."
To reflect on his journey toward mental wellness, we caught up with Jaehn to discuss his latest release, “No Therapy,” out August 21st, and how its message folds into an upcoming album conceptualized around his experiences over the last year.
EDM.com: Let’s just get right into it with your latest release, “No Therapy.” What does its message mean to you?
Felix Jaehn: The song is mainly about not needing therapy anymore. I did a lot of hypnosis therapy the last couple of years, which really helped me a lot to work with my inner child and a lot of stuff I had forgotten in the present. I didn’t know it was influencing me that much. So the song is about the time after that.
I’ve found that, at least for me, my suffering was in my own head. It’s my own thoughts. It’s the reality I create in my brain. And I realized that sometimes, all it takes is a good moment with somebody you love to forget about all the shit in your head, and just zoom out and have a nice moment. It’s those kinds of moments, that’s what “No Therapy” is about.
EDM.com: I’ve read that you’re typically very involved in the songwriting process for your recent music. Are there any lines in “No Therapy” that really stick out to you?
Felix Jaehn: I really love the line, “We be who we want to be," which is not the most amazing lyric I’ve written, probably, because it’s pretty basic but just the message is so strong.
I feel like this song is so nice because it’s almost conversational. It just goes, “You, me, honestly. We don’t need no therapy.” I think that’s so cool about it, because it’s so direct. It’s two people talking to each other. And when Nea comes in, and it’s suddenly a guy and a girl talking, it makes even more sense. That’s what I like about it most, is the interaction between them singing the same part, and its connection with “You, me, honestly.”
EDM.com: I recently read “No Therapy” is the conclusion of a story you’ve been telling with your last three releases. How does this storyline fit into your upcoming album?
Felix Jaehn: The concept’s going to be told starting with “SICKO,” which is about me being emotionally sick, and then it ends with “No Therapy.” In between, there’s a journey through "Love On Myself" with “Close Your Eyes” and “Liita” and obviously some unreleased songs. I cut out a couple of super sad ones just recently. I don’t know if people really need to hear those sad songs. Maybe it was good for me to write them, but I want to focus on the good vibes, so I decided to make an A/B album with the second part being more happy and chill and including love songs. Maybe even a remix, which is more just the DJ vibe, happy part. It’s going to be interesting! We’re currently looking at next year for sure. It’ll be worth the wait.
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EDM.com: How do you feel so comfortable talking about your mental health, especially enough to create an album concept around it?
Felix Jaehn: By now, I’ve gotten used to it. In the very beginning, of course it was scary for me. I remember coming out in February 2018 as bixesual, and before the news went out, I already knew when the first article was going to drop. I was so nervous about that day because I was like, “The whole world’s going to judge me now.” But it was so good, and I feel like it helped me so much. It was so freeing and so beautiful for me to just be truly open about everything.
It kind of became a purpose to me, even in the creation of the second album. I wanted the songs to not only entertain people, like of course, I’m a DJ and I want to have crazy parties with everybody and just dance and forget about the world, but I also feel like as an artist with such a huge reach, I want to use my voice to impact people. I feel like mental health is one of the most urgent topics on this planet, and people just need to hear that they’re not alone. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.
EDM.com: Do you have any ideas or thoughts on how musicians in the EDM industry can become more open and candid about discussing their own mental health?
Felix Jaehn: Regardless of the industry, people just need to be open. There’s no advice to give other than you’ve just got to do it. I think it’s got to do a lot with looking into oneself first. For me, meditation is truly a thing that changed my life. I feel like once you reach a level where you’re so aware of yourself and confident about yourself, there’s no more fear to be judged because the opinion of others literally doesn’t matter. I feel like this process is all within ourselves, and just one by one, we need to be self aware and authentic, really.
EDM.com: What made you open to starting that process for yourself?
Felix Jaehn: I think the first person that inspired me was my mom. She started traveling to India and becoming a yoga teacher, and talking about spirituality. She had all these books by Thich Nhat Hahn. This was all when I was still a teenager, so I already had this plant of mindfulness seeded in me from my mom. Then, I kinda knew this could be a nice escape and a tool. I just really got into it when I had to, because I was suffering so much and needed a solution.
EDM.com: What’s it like for music to have been a part of some of your lowest moments, like “SICKO,” and now have it be a positive force in your life again?
Felix Jaehn: It’s back to what it originally was, when I was a teenager and started DJing, or even when I started playing the violin at six years old. It was just music that touched me deeply in my heart, just pure emotions and joy. And then, I turned my passion into my job. It came with a lot of downsides for me, personally and mentally, and I projected those emotions and feelings onto music, and it became a hate-love thing. And now that all the problems are gone, it’s just back to this pure joy and back to the real emotions and feelings.
EDM.com: How do you think this new way of living is going to impact your schedule once the world looks a bit more normal?
Felix Jaehn: I’m definitely hungry already again, and want a bit more. I could do a bit more. I’m missing all the festivals, and meeting all the DJs backstage, and having moments together, rather than everybody just working out of their own bubble. I feel like creativity needs input, and I’m missing that as well. I’m definitely looking forward to being on the road again, but I’ll be more conscious about it this time and just see step by step how far I want to go.
EDM.com: Well, I know you’re not one to talk about the future, but what has you feeling excited today?
Felix Jaehn: I’m super hyped that I actually have a show coming up on the ?? of September in Berlin, with I think 900 people again already. It’s all super safe and everybody can keep a distance, but at the same time, everybody has their own space to dance and party. It’s going to be so cool to see 900 people dancing open air again, all together.