‘I am stronger, wiser’
Classic songs are usually the product of extreme emotions.
Love and lust; the depths of depression and the throes of sorrows create the soundtrack to feelings which easily translate across the globe.
Rochelle Griffith knows that.
She is also aware that nothing happens before its time.
Now is the time.
The 25-year-old singer is reinventing herself and music as one-half of the recently formed Classic Silhouettes Duo. She has paired up with musician/keyboardist/producer/songwriter Brad Griffith (no relation).
Music aficionados may recognise her as former co-lead singer of super-band NexCyx. During her tenure as a member of the band, Rochelle attempted suicide. It was her way of dealing with a lengthy struggle with depression, despite being known as the one who tried to make other’s smile.
“ . . . I tried to commit suicide and when I came out of the hospital, I still had to deal with stuff . . . . I needed to stay away from the public for a while, ’cause I could not handle anyone else’s problems anymore. I couldn’t deal with anything anymore,” she candidly said in an interview last week.
Rochelle made the hard decision to leave the band.
“We had a meeting and came to the conclusion that it would be better if I just stepped back . . . . I didn’t want to hold anyone back, because it was a time when everyone was looking into NexCyx but I wasn’t ready to move forward. It was very difficult because I grew up with them. I joined the band when I was 16.”
It was an ordeal which was running through her mind the same night the world learned that funnyman extraordinaire Robin Williams had committed suicide. Brad then encouraged Rochelle to speak out about depression and its impact on her life.
Interestingly enough, it was the Williams’ 1998 movie Patch Adams which lifted the mood in an otherwise gloomy psychiatric ward at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Since the Facebook post about the suicide attempt, fellow artistes and strangers reached out to her in person and online with similar stories and words of encouragement, Rochelle revealed.
“I [wanted people to] know what it is like to be down and depressed and I also know what it is like to be happy and to come out of something that is so low and so dark.
“ I woke up to hundreds of messages on Facebook and texts. Brad was right, reaching out to hundreds of people made the difference and I felt very inspired and it fuelled me.”
Rochelle also thinks it shows her supporters the emotions expressed through music are the real deal: “Now that people know what I have been through, when I sing they will know I am not just another artiste who is singing about something but not going through it.”
And even though the path was rocky, it is not regretted.
“Nothing happens before its time and when it is time. This could not have happened a year or two years ago, because it was not meant to happen a year or two years ago. It was supposed to happen now.”
The soon-to-be-released original Atomic Lover will be Classic Silhouettes Duo’s first ode of life, love and happier endings.
“Most of our music will be authentic and whatever she has experienced, we will try to embody it. There won’t be any pretence,” the song’s writer Brad assured.
“It speaks about love and having that feeling and that big love, bubbly feeling . . . and that is what I have now,” Rochelle continued.
Though the duo was started in March, Brad and Rochelle began working together last October while doing a stint on the Ventura cruise ship.
But once again, it was not all smooth sailing.
Not only did Rochelle suffer from seasickness, but she also had to deal with the loss of an uncle.
“He was a father-figure to me . . . and because of his religion he had to be buried the next day. That was rough. I was losing someone, had to perform that same night and I could not be there to say my final goodbyes.”
“The room was packed, and they could not tell but she broke down in the room 15 minutes before she went on stage,” Brad added. “Her emotions were off the charts and that brought people inside.”
However, the good generally outweighed the bad. “The bad was mainly missing home but it taught me small things don’t matter. Greeting people and going to different ports and seeing how people live made it exciting for me.”
She also credited the experience with strengthening her live performances and learning how to connect with an audience.
And with a happier song in her heart, Rochelle wants to help others, namely children who have to live with domestic abuse. This will be done through ATWEE – Abuse Towards Women Ends Entirely started in June.
“That is my other mission in life and I have no doubt about it. I know people who have been through abuse – friends and some family and the difference between this organisation and others is that this group would target children who are in school,” Rochelle said.
“People think that 13 and 14 year olds go through nothing but that is not true and that is who we are going to be targeting.
“Our first project is going into schools and speaking about it and we are going to have artists and victims talking . . . People just deal with the abused but there is more happening behind closed doors, and there are children who are really suffering from it.”