OFFAIAH – Going Through the Emotions

When life throws challenges our way, our ability to accept the knocks and rise up again usually comes to define us. East London-born dance artist OFFAIAH, real name Michael Woods, knows this journey better than most. Following a breakout year in 2016, with track ‘Trouble’ catching fire across airwaves and dance-floors around the world, a […]

OFFAIAH – Going Through the Emotions

By Natalie Lorimer

When life throws challenges our way, our ability to accept the knocks and rise up again usually comes to define us. East London-born dance artist OFFAIAH, real name Michael Woods, knows this journey better than most. Following a breakout year in 2016, with track ‘Trouble’ catching fire across airwaves and dance-floors around the world, a helicopter crash brought life back into perspective.

Now fully recovered and back behind the decks, OFFAIAH’s 90s-infused brand of melodic dance has earned him remixes for acts including Calvin Harris, Deadmau5, and Sam Smith. His latest original track ‘Soldier’ is as euphoric as it is infectious, driven by smooth bass and a hook built across crisp lead vocals.

The Mind Map meets Michael to hear about the realities of overcoming a huge life challenge, his passion for exercise, and how he keeps his creativity flowing.

What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?

Well, despite being in a helicopter crash back in 2017 – which I was thankful to have escaped from with only a fractured spine and some lacerations – I can say, thankfully, that the biggest challenges I’ve had to overcome are probably ones that most people who rely on their creativity to earn a living are faced with. That being writers-block, or feeling like you have completely run out of ideas.

The way I usually overcome this is to step back and take a breather to get some distance – go get totally absorbed in something totally different.

That might be long hikes with my dogs, hard workout in the gym, or doing some fun activities with my family. I find after getting some separation and letting go a bit that the creative juices start to flow again.

Self-doubt can be one of the most destructive forces for a creative but you need to hang on in there, know that something good is just over the horizon, and always be thinking about the end-goal you are trying to achieve.

What do you think affects your mental health positively?

What definitely keeps my mind healthy is keeping a healthy body. I’ve always loved going on runs, going to the gym, playing sports, and keeping fit in general since I was very young. It’s definitely kept my mind healthy, optimistic and looking towards a positive future.

And negatively?

I honestly try not to dwell too much on negative things as it does nothing good for me. One thing I try not to do is spend too much time on social media as I believe this can lead to depression and anxiety problems further down the line. I always take social media with a pinch of salt.

What role does creativity play in your wellbeing?

There’s no better feeling than creating something – in my case music – and hearing it being played live in front of huge crowds all around the globe. It’s the best feeling in the world and this feeling affects my wellbeing in the most positive way, and this sense of wellbeing  spurs me on to keep creating and in a sense be more creative.

What are you reading, watching and listening to at the moment?

I just finished reading a novel by British author Jeffrey Archer called ‘Kane and Abel’ and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a kind of rags-to-riches story, which serves as great inspiration for when I need it.

It’s hard to watch anything at the moment having two young children, as Peppa Pig seems to be on rotation 24 hours a day.

Listening-wise, I spend a lot of time listening to demos, mixes and just new music in general.

What’s your go to music if you need a boost?

Honestly, I don’t really turn to a particular type of music to give me a boost! If I need any kind of mental boost, I either go for a 3 mile fast run or head to the gym to knock out some heavy weights. This always boosts my mental state of mind to where I feel like I can achieve anything.

What are your favourite foods?

I’m a sucker for sweet food, chocolate and sweet pastries being my favourite. I also love Japanese food. Oh, and nothing beats a hangover like a huge pepperoni pizza (with pineapple)!

Do you like to exercise or meditate at all?

I try to go to the gym at least 3 times a week. I power-walk almost every day for 3 miles with my dogs.

I do meditate. I try to do this every day but realistically ends up being 3-4 times per week.

I find mediation plays a great part in the creative process as it allows my mind to escape and wander free-thought.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received in regards to your mental wellbeing?  

The best advise I’ve read is about being able to let go of something when you want it the most. It was actually words written by Michael Jackson, and goes something along the lines of: “Love is like a bar of soap in the bathtub – you have it there in your hand but if you hold too tightly it will slip away.”

How have you changed since 15, and what advice would you give to that person? 

I guess I’ve just calmed down a bit since then! I was very hyperactive as a kid and wanted to do everything.

My advice to that person would be to take a breath, step back and think about what it is you really want, and then to focus in on that – but then if that doesn’t work out, that’s okay too. You have a lot of time to work things out. Don’t forget life is not about the destination, it’s about the journey, so enjoy the ride.

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