He understands that he has to do a job, but sometimes it just get a bit too much. When that happens, he chooses to prioritise his mental health over his pocket and takes a break from the spotlight.
After a break, musician and TV presenter, Shelton Forbez then has to reintroduce himself again to his fans and followers.
But he doesn't mind putting in the work.
Shelton took a break in 2017 after being in a terrible space. He's now back and has already released new music.
The musician says he had to choose himself over succumbing to the pressure that comes with his work.
“I think for me, it happened by default, you know, 2017 I had to take a break because I had… I don’t know if it was mild because I have never suffered from depression, but it was very intense and I was numb and I did not want to do anything, so I think that literally put me in that division where I couldn’t do anything.”
There is a lot of pressure in the industry, he says, including the need to stay consistent and persistent. “It is such a go, go, go industry, and it is such a put-in and like we need to see results, to feel like we are successful or we are doing well, or just the pressure of people getting booked, people getting shows, people becoming the presenters of this show, people have the number one song… it is so much pressure to constantly need to stay relevant or at least put out work."
Shelton was at the peak of his career when he suffered from his mild depression, as he recalls. He says he burned out because he did not listen to his body and overworked himself when he was still a presenter on MTV Base.
“It wasn’t like my career was not going well, I think I was burned out, the lifestyle just caught up to me. I think the pressure just caught up to me and I felt into depression, and I think that kind of taught me to just really listen to my body, and listen to my mind, and listen to my spirit.”
He says he learnt to take ease when it all gets hard. “If I feel like I am overwhelmed and things are not going my way, I am starting to compare myself, I am starting to have unrealistic expectations of myself, and I am actually ignoring the effort I am putting in, I take a step back now. Because if my mind is not right, if my mind is not healthy and I am depressed, and I am not feeling good, it is an alarm for me to sit back, that is the most important thing. Like I said, I was at the highest level of my career and I was super depressed, so I do not value success over my own health anymore”
Although the break was a much needed one, he says on the other hand it came with challenges, especially with having to reintroduce himself to fans.
“That break was good for me, it was tough, it probably hit my ego, I was like… no one cares about me anymore, no one is answering calls, no one wanted to do features, no one wanted to put me on their TV shows. It is just how the game works, if you are not the hottest property no more, like people kind of disappear, I had to lose my ego, I had to go through a lot of like companies, thickening my skin to understand that it how the game works.
“It is a game of persistence and keeping consistent and trying to deal with the ups and downs but as long as you push through, your moments will always come. So for me it was a gift and a curse but I am grateful for the break I had to take, I had to relearn how to reconnect with people, sell myself as an artist from scratch, I couldn’t use the cheat code,” he tells Drum.
Using his romantic relationship of over 10 years as an inspiration to write his recent song, Over Us, he admits it has not always been red roses. He says he used his truth to write lyrics of his masterpiece, in which he features Fifi Cooper.
“As a new version, you always have like to tap into I guess the most truest parts of what you go through, or been through, so I am in a very good relationship but it is not always been perfect so I had to kind of tap into the times where I knew I had to fight for the relationship, you know I had to put my best foot forward, I had to put my pride aside.”
“So, I kind of had to tap into that place in order to really write a verse for the song and also to make sense and for it to have the effect that it has,” he adds.
The musician encourages artists to prioritize their mental health over making money. “I think that is probably the most important point I can bring across to this, it is not that I went through depression now everyone needs to feel sorry for me. I think every artist into this industry needs to value their mental health, over anything else,” he says, while adding that, “I do not care how much money you make, what shows you doing, if you are depressed and not feeling good, do not have the mindset of fake it till you make it, or push through. Because I promise you, before you know it, you will just crash and burn, and not even enjoy the benefits of the hard work that you putting in so it is always important to put it in neutral,” he says.
“Take your feet out, reconnect, breath, pray, whatever you do to recollect yourself, it is like anything else. If a car overheats it is going to break down. That's the same for everything, your body, your mind and soul - it is like a universal machine, that if you do not give it rest, it will burn out and you will not enjoy or reap the benefits.”
Shelton also tried to dip into the current Mzansi popular music genre, Amapiano, he says. He was scared at first but plans to do it in a way that relates to his music.
“I was scared to do it, you know what I mean, like the presenting I was like they will think the presenter now is trying to sing. With Amapiano, because it is so popular, people are going to think artists are just going to hop on the sound whatever but I really love the sound, but then mine is more deep house, like the soulful version of it, not like the popular Amapiano.”