Talented student grounds herself by making music

March 2, 2021

Carina, singer-songwriter and musician gets inspiration in the bath

Grace Egan talks to songwriter Carina, who shares her experiences and offers advice on improving mental health through creativity

Carina is an incredible young singer-songwriter. She recently released her first EP called Spaceout!. All of which she created and produced on her bedroom floor during our first summer lockdown.

I met Carina in our year 12 Psychology class. She is one of the most talented, hard-working, motivated people I know. So I asked her if she was interested in being interviewed about her music and experiences with dissociation, since, like me, it’s something she struggles with.

In this interview, we discuss Carina’s own journey with dissociation, her tips on how to deal with it and how it links to her love of making music. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

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Grace: What is your personal relationship with dissociation?

Carina: I’ve always been a zoned-out kid. I didn’t have many friends when I was younger. I think I’ve always just had that type of personality. I thought everyone felt the same as I did. At age 13 it got bad, so bad that I wasn’t talking or interacting with anybody at school, so my teacher contacted my parents.

I discovered something on the Internet about dissociation that made sense to me. I brought the idea up in therapy, and it was later confirmed to be what I was struggling with. Therapy didn’t really help me much the first time around. It was talking therapy. At the moment I’m working with a therapist and often when I can’t explain what’s going on inside, I can draw and things start making sense from there. I find it so useful and calming to work like this.

Grace: How do you get on with schoolwork?

Carina: My school subjects are based on things I can do even when I’m dissociating. So, Maths and Computer Science are good subjects for me. They are just something my brain always understands, if that makes sense? Although I know these subjects could be a lot of people’s worst nightmare!

In terms of school, work is the easiest thing to manage. It’s the social life that’s hard. My brain is working way too slowly to process small talk. I didn’t have the easiest time at school and social interactions are what I struggled with the most, to begin with, at Woodhouse.

Carina

Grace: Do you share difficult feeling with friends?

Carina: Once, when I described my dissociation to a friend, they replied with “that’s not a real thing”, so that kind of put me off sharing with people about it. When I get going, like the conversation we’re having now, I don’t mind discussing it at all. But generally, I find it hard to just bring it up.

Grace: What would you recommend to others dealing with dissociation?

Carina: I know it’s not for everyone, but I journal religiously. It brings me down to earth. I have many, many notebooks. When I’m in a state of derealisation or in a long-term dissociative mindset, writing down my thoughts and feelings really helps me to have a sense of time passing. Often time feels like its falling into a void.

I also recommend the 1 Second Everyday app. I used it every day last year. At the end of each week, I would look back at my 1-second clips, and it would help so much to see the passing of time right in front of me, almost confirming what had happened that week. I got all my friends to download the app because I loved it so much. I really recommend it.

And of course, there’s music…

Grace: So why do you make music?

Carina: Honestly, I make music and write lyrics because it helps take something that’s inside my head and make it something that exists outside of myself. It’s the only thing that makes me feel totally connected.

Grace: Yeah, that resonates with me. I often struggle to articulate what I’m feeling or what is happening inside my head, to other people. I can imagine it’s a universal feeling; all we really want is to be understood. In a similar way to how you connect to your feelings through music, I do the same with writing.

Spaceout, EP cover created by Carina

Grace: Tell me about the songs on your new EP Spaceout!

Carina: So, Spaceout! contains four songs, Frontin, Skets&stoners, Ur soft eyes and Summer air buzz. A lot of my tracks are created to capture a specific vibe, an immersive experience rather than telling a story.

I created the lyrics to Summer air buzz while I was in a park. It was during one of London’s heatwaves towards the end of summer; August maybe.

I don’t do well in the heat at all; it triggers bad dissociative episodes. I feel like I could just completely melt into the air. Summer air buzz captures that feeling.

The soundscape I’ve put together for the track is pretty basic; there are clips of my friends talking, keyboard, bass and open drums. The song is a collection of phrases, so there’s room to breathe and sink in.

‘I don’t feel real right now, just let me space out’ – line from Summer air buzz.

I wanted Skets&stoners to be a song that teenagers can relate to. I wrote it during a lockdown. It’s inspired by video clips from parties with friends which I came across on my camera roll when I was reminiscing about better times.

The lyrics to Frontin began formulating when I was sitting in a library studying. Then the song just somehow came into existence. It’s not a super serious song. I wanted one song on my EP to be completely positive.

Grace: Is there any music that’s influenced your sound and what’s it like working with other musicians?

Carina: Ur soft eyes is inspired by Still Woozy. I wanted to capture the energy he creates with his music. Foolsong is probably my favourite song, and actually really helps ground me when I dissociate. I like it when music brings with it strong visuals that take you into a different world.

I also like making music as a way of connecting and sharing with others. I want to include as many people as I can, which is why I’m part of this group project. We collaborate and help each other. It’s really great. It makes me feel proud.
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Please check out Carina’s music on Spotify and Instagram. Carina is also part of a musician’s group called minimindmuseum, which you can find on Instagram, a ‘record label under construction.’

I really enjoyed talking to Carina. Now I can listen to her songs with a deeper understanding and so can you.

For more information about dissociation, including ways to manage it, you can read my article here.

Grace is studying English Literature, Psychology and Biology at A level. She is taking these subjects because she is passionate about both journalism and biopsychology. She is still unsure of what she will study after college, but she is a work in progress!

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