Mike Shinoda was first introduced to the world as the architect behind the nu-metal rock band, Linkin Park. Along with his bandmates, he spent years mastering powerful hip-hop beats laced with brutally honest lyrics, inspiring unwavering loyalty from the band’s followers.
But having already presented himself as a part of this collective force, he is now in the position of doing it all over again; this time, as Mike Shinoda, the solo artist.
“Making music and being on stage is cathartic for me,” he tells Young Post before his Hong Kong performance at Kitec on Tuesday.
“In my heart I don’t think I had another option [other than making music],” he says.
Shinoda is currently touring his first solo album, Post Traumatic. The album is his first project since the death of his Linkin Park bandmate, Chester Bennington, last year, and chronicles the huge impact that event had on him.
YP cadet Hemant Bharwaney is interviewing Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park! For our piece about Mike’s first solo tour, and how he became an advocate for mental health, keep an eye out for this coming weekend's Sunday Young Post. @linkinpark @m_shinoda #linkinpark #mikeshinoda #interview #bts #behindthescenes #mentalhealth #music #musician #inspiration
But in the face of tragedy, Shinoda’s creativity and innovation persisted; and he is now entering a new chapter in his life.
Post Traumatic is not wholly about Bennington; much of it is Shinoda’s attempt at reinventing himself without his friend by his side.
“I didn’t want my album to be sad. Listening to music and going to a show is a celebratory affair,” Shinoda says. “The positivity of that is helpful and healthy.”
“Creating the album was very therapeutic for me,” he said, adding that he recorded most of the songs in his home.
“I would play around with beats and words until something organic came from it. Art therapy is a very powerful thing.”
This belief in the power of art therapy stretched beyond recording music, with Shinoda also spending time drawing and painting. His artwork makes an appearance in some shape or form in his music, from album packaging to the aesthetics of his tour set.
His efforts have helped him heal, but also benefitted the fans. Dressed casually in a T-shirt and baseball hat, the unassuming rock star takes a moment to reflect on the support he has received from the fans this year.
“[The fans] have been so supportive and vocal in recovering from the loss of Chester,” he says, speaking candidly of his former bandmate.
But perhaps the most striking, and most empowering, thing about Shinoda is how he has harnessed his grief, and committed himself to changing the way society views mental health.
“It’s a learning process for me,” he says. “At first, I wasn’t aware of the need for mental health to be held with the same importance as physical health.
“We must make it a point to check in with other people, and talk about it. In doing so, you shine a light on some things that – if left unchecked – could get out of control.”
He frequently posts on social media, in a bid to end the stigma surrounding mental health.
For more than two decades, Shinoda’s career and identity have been linked to his being a component of Linkin Park. With Post Traumatic, we get to see him stripped back, and very much his own person.
As he heads to the stage, there is a certain energy about him, that suggests he is ready to embrace whatever is in store for him.
“I may make mistakes along the way, and I may change paths,” Shinoda says. “But at the end of the day, I’m looking forward to finding my own way.”