The Mind Behind “Music Therapy”
The “Music Therapy” podcast (produced by Sully Davis, engineered by Joshua Wentz) is the brainchild of Risker, who has been a feature of the Chicago DIY music scene since 2011. In 2012, Deli Magazine named Risker (then performing as Deadbeat) Chicago’s emerging artist of the year. Risker has performed on NPR’s live sessions and received of three independent artist grants from the city of Chicago. She is also a licensed clinical professional counselor.
Although Risker always wanted to be a musician, she pursued a graduate degree in counseling psychology as a practical choice, she said. Risker explained that her work as a therapist gives her the financial freedom she needs to pursue music, something she’ll never give up.
“I just don’t feel fulfilled in my life unless I’m creating something,” Risker said. “It just feels kind of necessary.”
A Podcast Marrying Music And Therapy
At the beginning of the pandemic, Risker brought her two careers together through the “Music Therapy” podcast. The show features musicians and counselors from the area for chats about mental health and music, covering topics from performance anxiety to social media to the struggles of making it as an artist.
Risker said that the podcast began as an offering to the music community in the pandemic’s early days.
As shows were canceled and musicians turned to Instagram Live as a platform for performances and connection, Risker saw an opportunity to share her knowledge as a therapist with the Chicago music community, which she describes as a special group of friendly, collaborative artists.
Risker played with the idea of doing guided meditations and eventually began hosting long-form conversations with other musicians.
“I’m a therapist. This is what I know,” she said. “I talk to people all week long anyway, so what’s another hour of talking to somebody?”
The project morphed into a podcast delving into mental health topics with musicians and therapists. Reception has been positive. “It’s been lovely. Everyone’s really supportive,” Risker said. “So many people are like, ‘Oh, this should have existed, this is such a great idea!”
Dive Into Band Drama With “Music Therapy: Group Session”
“Group Session” is a running series featuring local bands on the “Music Therapy” podcast.
“Bands are notorious for having issues,” Risker said. “So it’s interesting to hear what everybody’s roles are in the band” and learn how they collaborate, write together and work through conflict. It’s a unique opportunity for bands to get vulnerable.
For listeners, “Group Session” episodes reveal the inner workings behind musicians’ output. “I think people really respond to the rawness of the bands and just seeing their dynamic,” Risker said.
The Friko trio has been making music together since high school. They currently live together. “It’s going to be really interesting to talk to them about what it is like to live with your bandmates and just spend all this time together,” Risker said. She’s also excited for the energy that Friko will bring. “They’re in this really great, excited place. And that just makes for a fun interaction, a fun show,” she said.
Beyond seeing the live podcast taping, “Group Session” attendees can look forward to music videos and a live performance from the featured band.
Risker explained that “Group Session” tapings offer a particular magic: getting to know a band and then seeing them perform live directly afterward. “You’re coming at it with just a different understanding and a more in-depth point of view,” she said.
Watch A Live Recording of “Music Therapy: Group Session”
You can catch this process in real time on Wednesday, April 6, at Cafe Mustache. The show starts at 8 p.m and has a $10 suggested donation.
Can’t join? You can catch the recording live stream on Twitch.
Tune into the “Music Therapy” podcast anytime on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
Featured image: Rachel Winslow