MTF’s Acid ADHD
Bristol’s MTF is launching a Discord channel for musicians with ADHD.
Anyone who spends time amongst creative people and communities will be familiar to some degree with ADHD. Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder, to give its clumsy full title, is widespread and often undiagnosed, but it finds a natural home in artistic minds who can sometimes struggle to focus on tasks that don’t excite them. How many seminal artists couldn’t hold down a job that bored the shit out of them, or failed at some of life’s more tedious administrative duties? Without ADHD, would managers have even been invented?
Of course writing about ADHD from an outside perspective is dicey because it’s a condition which can be widely misrepresented – in the past it was more readily associated with hyperactive ‘problem’ children prescribed Ritalin to curb their wayward tendencies, but that misleading portrayal unsurprisingly does more harm than good. Such stigma is a huge catalyst for undiagnosed or misdiagnosed cases, but it also frames ADHD in a negative light when the outlook might not need to be so bleak.
Drawing on their own experiences and self-discovery, Bristol’s MTF is launching a Discord channel geared towards helping fellow producers with their own ADHD conditions, diagnosed or simply suspected. Acid ADHD aims to form a community-based support network for people to share their experiences and tips for managing a life of distraction and frustration without hampering the impetus to create. As well as group-based discussion, MTF is offering a free weekly 1-2-1 Zoom session with a randomly selected person where they can discuss particular nuances of their life and creativity with ADHD.
“I’ve been in the studio over 15 years and dealing with ADHD as an artist still cripples me,” MTF said in an Instagram post, “but during this time I’ve learnt many ways to deal with it and I now realise that with the right structure/hacks, ADHD can be a creative super power, it just needs A LOT of attention to keep in check!”
Having just released their debut album Under The Blue Moon on Limbo Tapes (Titus 12 and Dive Reflex Service’s excellent stable for leftfield sonics with a dubby undercurrent), MTF’s got a tangible experience to draw on in terms of harnessing their own condition into making a finished body of work. But how much did ADHD define the end results on that spool of beats?
“Ha, I mean, it literally shaped the album more than anything else,” says MTF. “It might not be so obvious from an outside perspective, but for me, I can literally hear my ADHD in the music. It’s just this big melting pot of different experimental tangents all squeezed together into one place that it somehow makes sense. The only coherence is chaos. I think this is a massive ADHD thing, because for someone with the condition, the absolute worst thing in the world is boredom. Boredom for someone with ADHD equals to depression, so keeping chaos close means that boredom is far away… it’s kinda mischievous, I love that about it.”
Treading the fine line between impulsive experimentation and focused creativity is the work of any artist worth their salt (a hex on anyone churning out formulaic landfill club music), but it’s a very blurry line. As MTF explains, the flipside to a lack of concentration can be intense bursts of creativity in someone with ADHD, but of course such fluctuations require careful management to not become detrimental.
“Awareness is so important as it requires a completely unique workflow to function constructively,” they say. “Unfortunately for me, I learnt this the hard way, as it’s only in the last few years I’ve started to understand my own condition, which meant spending years getting sucked into chaos and unhealthy workflows. When I started researching more about the condition, I started doing all the self-tests I could find and every time I ended up in the ‘yeah mate, you definitely have ADHD’ category. I think my top score was 39 out of 41, when the threshold for ADHD was 15 or something. I’m still quite proud of that one.”
For more information about Acid ADHD, head to the Discord channel and sign up to become part of the conversation. You can check out MTF’s ADHD-fuelled music here, here and here.