Brighton’s We Are Not Saints is the UK’s first music label designed to support those in recovery from addiction.
The Brighton-based record label gets artists in the studio to record music and develop creatively, pushing their career forward that otherwise would have been, before they found drink and drugs.
By nurturing and investing in the unique talent within this group of creatives, great music has been made and more importantly, many have gone on to lead better lives.
One artist who has been working with the label is Milky, a rising rap artist who writes honestly about the highs and lows of his life to date, using his recovery story as fuel to create music. The importance of the label in Milky’s life is clear- “If I didn’t know the guys at We Are Not Saints, I don’t know where I’d be, probably floating around Brighton, not doing recovery properly, I’d be a bit lost. It was destined to happen; my confidence is boosting with every gig and everything we do”.
His debut album, “The Milky Way” was released to coincide with September’s recovery month- an observation marking global awareness of the struggles faced by people with addiction, shining a light on the need for organisations like We Are Not Saints to provide understanding spaces for artists in recovery.
This organisation is headed by the Chris De Banks who has been in recovery for the past five and a half years himself.
“We Are Not Saints isn’t trying to change the world. We aren’t preachers or nay-sayers. We just want to show the world that it can all be done differently and provide safe harbour for anyone who needs us,” he commented.
Throughout history, the relationship between music and mental health has always been a complicated one and for Chris, this holds true. He speaks about under-age drinking and the music scene being a gateway into a world that he was not prepared for. With office hours being outside the 9-5 and work spaces being greenrooms and bars, it isn’t that surprising that 45% of musicians have reported issues with alcohol.
“When I finally got sober, I found a world in recovery full of musicians who like me had been to the gates of hell and now they didn’t drink, were in a new hell just trying to be musicians in a world of booze and partying. We Are Not Saints came about after a particularly miserable Great Escape Festival in 2018 where I found that every networking event was in a bar and most people were past it by 5pm”
Chris decided to create the space that was needed for artists in recovery- the label hosts sober live music events that are open to all, for artists to share their music in a safer environment, which also brings together people who might also have similar stories.
We Are Not Saints, doesn’t stop there- they help the artist to progress their music and once ready, promote their tracks commercially.
They have partnered with the music services agency, The Famous Company, to push artists further and reach a wider audience. The organisation also provides training and employment within their dynamic and supportive team, helping people realise a better life with new meaning. It is an organisation that is so needed and is crucial in giving hope for people to keep going in their journey.