Local Current Blog

The O.K. Show, Episode 6: Hard-touring rapper Astronautalis talks about staying sane on the road

Astronautalis, a.k.a. Andy Bothwell, performing with Jason Feathers (Photo by Nate Ryan/MPR)

Astronautalis is a man on the move. Few artists tour as relentlessly, freestyle so rapidly, and shift between projects so effortlessly. If you’ve ever seen him perform, you probably already know that this is a man with a busy mind and a long train of racing thoughts.

In the past year alone, Astronautalis—known off stage as Andy Bothwell—has toured most of the U.S. and Europe; performed alongside Justin Vernon, S. Carey, and Ryan Olson in their bizarro Southern rap meets electro side project Jason Feathers; and assumed the role of the town priest at the Eaux Claires Festival, inviting fans into a confession booth to share their secrets and receive a one-on-one freestyle response.

When he’s not on the road playing music he’s been on the road exploring his new loves of riding motorcycle and taking photos; even in his quieter moments, he’s still in motion, always pushing forward in the search of the next adventure.

For anyone who has dealt with anxiety, you might already get a sense for where this story is going. What happens when we don’t stop moving, ever? When we don’t take the time to care for ourselves and give ourselves a break? In Andy’s case, his darker moments of self-doubt have thrown up a wall between his mind and his creative output, and it culminated in what he describes as a simultaneous nervous breakdown, existential meltdown, and mid-life crisis back in 2012.

Since then, Andy has started speaking out about the pressures that musicians and other creative types face to constantly make new material, and how he regained a sense of control and found a new sense of peace. He’s getting ready to put out a new record early next year, and he says it’s the most “Andy” record he’s ever made.

I couldn’t wait to ask him more about what it’s been like to share his mental health experiences with the community, and how it’s helped him to move forward as a healthier, happier person.

  1. Listen The O.K. Show, Episode 6: Astronautalis

Previously:

The O.K. Show, Episode One: A candid discussion on mental health with Charlie Van Stee

The O.K. Show, Episode Two: Mary Beth Mueller and her one-woman crusade against cancer

The O.K. Show, Episode Three: Adam Levy’s devastating loss and beautiful new solo album

The O.K. Show, Episode Four: Irv Williams, the elder statesman of Twin Cities jazz

The O.K. Show, Episode Five: Lydia Liza on empathy, anxiety, and staying grounded in the music business