JD McGibney Discusses ‘Voices in the Dark’ Project and Bringing Awareness to Anxiety Struggles


Portrait of Los Angeles musician JD McGibney.

JD McGibney – Story by Anne Erickson, courtesy photo

Local Music Beat: Metal musician JD McGibney discusses his latest single, “Voices in the Dark,” and his mission to bring hope to those dealing with mental health issues in this edition of the column

Longtime Los Angeles musician JD McGibney has a specific mission with his music, and that’s to help conquer the stigma surrounding mental health. Through his own journey with anxiety, McGibney realizes the power of facing one’s demons head-on. He also understands that it’s okay to talk openly about mental health issues.

McGibney’s latest release is a song called “Voices in the Dark,” featuring Chen Balbus of Orphaned Land. The powerful track is about hope, encouragement and “conquering our battlefields.” McGibney caught up with Audio Ink Radio for the latest Local Music Beat column to discuss the new single, his journey with anxiety, his love for making music and more. Find JD McGibney online here.

Anne Erickson: Congratulations on “Voices in the Dark” featuring Chen Balbus of Orphaned Land. Tell me about how this song came together and how you and Chen came about wanting to collaborate.

JD McGibney: The song originally started one evening when I was feeling overwhelmed with my own anxiety. In the middle of writing what started out as a cement to the frustration and hopelessness I was feeling, something changed, and the song turned itself into an anthem of hope and triumph for me. I’d also recently started going to therapy for the first time in a my life and was starting to travel down this deep well of self discovery. On this journey, I discovered that I have a tendency to want to help people, but in the past, it’s been at the cost my my physical and mental well being. I had the idea to use music, which has helped me in my own personal struggles for most of my life, to help give back to the community at large in a more active and beneficial way.

I reached out to Chen Balbus to be part of this first song of the “JD McGibney & Friends” project, because he is literally one of my favorite people on the planet. The man is always smiling, even during the darkest of times. You can’t help but feel inspired and happy whenever he’s around. We met back in 2017 when I was playing guitar for the band Voodoo Kungfu while they toured with Orphaned Land in North America. Chen was one of the first people I met when Voodoo Kungfu met up with the rest of the tour, and within five minutes, I felt the latch of a deep and long-lasting friendship begin.

What’s the message in “Voices in the Dark?”

The theme of this song is hope and encouragement. No matter what it is we are facing in the moment right now, tomorrow or six months from now, we need to remember that we always have the strength to conquer our battlefields, both literal and metaphorical.

Tell me about the greater message of your “JD McGibney & Friends” project.

“JD McGibney & Friends” was my first step into creating music with a mission that was personal to me. I had done charity projects in the past, and it always felt great being able to do something I loved so much and give back to people in need. Mental health has been a consistent issue in my life, from my own struggles with anxiety to family members struggling with various afflictions to friends and loved ones, as well. I wanted to do what I could using the tools at my disposal to feed my desire to help others, but in a healthy manner and not at the expense of my physical or mental well being. I also wanted to bring my friends together to share their experiences with mental health struggles.

I truly believe that the more we, as a society, start having these conversations openly, that the more we can do to fight and end the stigma that surrounds talking about mental illness and struggles surrounding them. If the smallest amount we can do is just listen to a friend or loved one share their feelings and that is enough to save their life, feel reminded that they are loved or even help them on a path to getting professional help, then I believe getting comfortable, as a society, with having these conversations is a step in making a change for the better.

A portion of the proceeds from this project go to The You Rock Foundation or NAMI. What makes these organizations important?

A portion of the streaming and sales royalties from this song are going to be donated to The You Rock Foundation each quarter. I’ve officially partnered up with The You Rock Foundation for all future “JD McGibney & Friends” projects, as well as for the Angels on the Battlefield project, because I believe in their mission to encourage people to speak up and share their feelings in order to save lives and prevent suicide. I also believe in NAMI, because they are one of the most prominent mental health organizations in the United States, with grass roots offices in local areas. Their mission is to educate communities on how to help conquer their struggles, educate family and friends on how to help those in need, connect people with professional, medical, and clinical resources, and also work to bring about policy and law changes that help provide resources to those struggling with their mental health.

Do you think making music can be a sort of therapy after dealing with difficult issues in life?

Oh, 100% yes! Music has been officially used as medically approved therapy since the 1800s. I truly believe that there is a magic in music- in hearing it, playing it, writing it and feeling it. Personally speaking, I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have music in my life. Even with all that I let hold me back, music has helped conquer even more. I truly think that I can say that music has saved my life on more than one occasion.

Tell me about your other projects, such as the Conquer Your Battlefield Podcast.

Everything I’m currently working on revolves around conquering the mental health stigma. “JD McGibney & Friends” is about starting the conversation and giving back what we can. The Conquer Your Battlefield Podcast is about literally having candid and honest conversations about what my guests and I have personally been through in order to show that there is no negativity about being open about our experiences. Angels on the Battlefield has the same mission as “JD McGibney & Friends,” but on a larger scale.

What’s your favorite thing about creating music and art?

It feels absolutely freeing to express myself in a way that does not require words or logic and in a way that allows me to connect with so many people.

Anne Erickson’s column appears regularly in Audio Ink Radio. Have a band or concert to share? Contact her at anne@audioinkradio.com.

Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Local Music Beat, Metal, Music, Rock News