The rock star whisperer: how one woman helps A-list musicians survive

Kathryn Frazier spent much of her career raising the profiles of clients like Migos and Daft Punk through publicity but now as a life coach she also helps artists stay on an even keel

In the last 15 months, the suicides of Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington and Avicii have reinforced the notion that talent, success, wealth and worldwide fame do not assure happiness. In the wake of these deaths, mental health in the music industry has become a white-hot issue, with a genre-spanning collection of artists coming forth to discuss their own struggles with depression, anxiety, addiction and the pressures of fame.

And while her job has long been to help artists achieve such fame, Kathryn Frazier has more recently become a resource for them to figure out how to deal with it.

Frazier, the founder and owner of the PR agency Biz3 which has offices in Chicago and Los Angeles has raised the profiles of hundreds of clients including Lauryn Hill, Miguel, Daft Punk, Justin Bieber, Skrillex and Migos. After 26 years in the business, Frazier has now expanded her professional offerings by becoming a certified personal and executive coach, a title often simple referred to as life coach.

In this role Frazier helps her coaching clients 80% of whom are in the music industry figure out what their issues are and how to transcend them. A longtime advocate of therapy, self-help and meditation, the Los Angeles-based Frazier knew this passion for personal development, along with her industry acumen, made her a unique resource.

Frazier works in both coaching and mentorship/advising capacities, doing sessions via Skype with clients in other countries and those out on tour. While she once scoffed at the idea of life coaching, she now evangelizes its efficacy which she emphasizes is very different from traditional therapy and is in the process of getting certified in relationship and addiction coaching. Altogether, shes establishing herself as a resource for musicians looking to transcend the struggling rock star stereotype.

Do you think people, and especially musicians, are now more in need of the kind of services you provide, or are we now just more aware that people are struggling?

I know Im more aware. After 26 years of doing this, I was just beaten over the head with how many people are struggling, whether its with something more severe like mental illness or addiction, or if its just being caught up in negative self-talk and compare and despair at whatever level of intensity thats happening. I was seeing it over and over, and I wasnt really seeing anyone on the [artists] team helping with it.

It was just sort of like, well, artists party, or artists are crazy or artists are just so in their heads. People writing it off like its a stereotype. Theres probably some truth to that, but for me it was not wanting to keep helping these people get more famous because that is what my job is, to make artists get well known and help people know who they are then watching them struggle and be held down by it.

I do think people have certainly always needed the help. You go back to Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix. The list is long with people that probably needed a lot of help and maybe they got it, but couldnt accept it. We have for a long time been watching our rock stars kill themselves. Of course, theres a story behind every one of those, and some maybe had enablers. Some probably had some people really trying to help. But I think as a whole, we expect rock stars to be tragic and difficult. I dont think it has to be that way.

Justin Bieber, Takeoff of Migos, Lauryn Hill and Miguel, who have all been clients of Biz3. Composite: Getty

Do you find that artists have a typical set of issues theyre bringing to sessions that sets them apart from other clients who arent in the music industry?

A common thing is that theres a frustration or theyre perplexed that they achieved a bunch of things they wanted, yet they still feel judgmental and still have a lot of negative self-talk. They still compare and despair. They still have the same problems they had when they were trying to make it, and now you add in theyre kind of resentful theres a lot of people feeling like they take care of everyone. I hear frustration that they feel like theyre not they dont use the term yes men but they want to be heard more and challenged a bit.

Across the board, whether its an artist or a manager or the CEO of a media company or a college kid, a very common thing that comes up is this negative self-talk. A rock star might report as much negative self-talk as, like, a struggling college kid. I do a lot of very discounted or trade coaching for people who I think need it, because I feel like karmically I need to help support people who dont have the means to have a coach or have therapy, because thats a luxury. So I get the beauty of seeing these really different lives and its just so funny to see the lady that Im coaching in Santa Monica who wants to have a mega church has the same issues and struggles as a well-known rapper living in the Hollywood Hills.

Youve seen the rise of social media during your career. Obviously it affects us all to a certain extent, but artists deal with such massive exposure. What effect is it having on them?

It doesnt matter who Im with, [social media] might be one of the biggest things that comes up in almost every session. Negative self-talk is probably the biggest issue, but the second, in particular with artists, is the compare and despair that Instagram brings.

I have people who will have a whole session of like, I hate how Instagram makes me feel, but I feel like Im supposed to be on it because its basically my marketing machine, and I also feel like I need to get off it, but then also find that I cant because its an addiction. There was a huge artist who was talking about all these [Instagram] comments and I was like, How do you even know that? because this person is really big. They were like, I read them all. It was, no joke, 87,000 comments.

We think people in positions of power are somehow above everyone else and free from the self-torture and negative self-talk, but theyre not any different than we are. They just have a lot more critics. Its painful, and its actually really sad to watch. Ive definitely had coaching sessions around how artists can use Instagram to their advantage, but also protect themselves.

Are you seeing the results of your coaching on a mass level, where an artist puts out a project and you can sense the changes theyve made through the music?

There are two artists in particular that I have a good either coaching or this kind of advising/mentoring relationship with. The more theyre growing, the more their music is inconsistent with their thoughts. Theres a natural shift thats going to happen, because if theyre being authentic to themselves and their mind state is shifting, of course theyre going to grow and shift.

Thats whats beautiful about artists, especially artists whove been around a long time. We can go back through many artists records and like, This is a record where they got destroyed and had their heart broken. This is the record where they were angry and where they were funny and took everybody down. This is the record where they got spiritual. You can see peoples growth.

I imagine this work brings artists to a deeper level of their artistry.

I feel like if were deeper and at better places as humans, were going to be better at our work. I just dont see how theres any way around that. I feel like we gawk at artists too much. We watch them be classic, messed up, wounded, depressed, hurt artists, because thats what theyre supposed to do and were so into their music because it helps us tap into our stuff and to feel. But weve also gotta throw the life preserver out there.

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