Though we all don’t speak the same language, we often find ourselves connecting over and overcoming through one thing: music. And within these uncertain times, there’s nothing more than the world needs than new ways and tactics to keep pushing forward — this is the work being done by Ariel Bloomer and Shawn Jump, founders of Icon for Hire. Blossoming in Decatur, IL and now rooted in Nashville, TN, these two artists have developed a platform that goes upon and beyond what a rockstar is “supposed” to be.
Icon for Hire has set the stage for allowing people to be human and realize that’s ok; That we can have conversations about depression, anxiety and self-harm, and that’s ok. Through their music, Ariel and Shawn have built a fan-base of over 700,000, all seeking to be healing rockstars and unapologetically human. With Icon for Hire, they have changed the narrative of the rockstar mentality and are guiding people to progression and not perfection.
Soberocity [S]: Where are you both from?
Ariel and Shawn [A&S]: Shawn was born and raised in Decatur Illinois, and Ariel was born in Sweden, and mostly raised in Minneapolis. We met in Decatur and started our band there.
[S]: What does “sobriety” mean to you?
[A&S]: Sobriety to me (Shawn) means to have a meaningful pursuit for my life, and it affects all areas of my well being. When I first got sober I thought it was just eliminating the alcohol from my life and I was done. I’m so glad I was wrong! It’s given me tools, community, and an abundance of awareness to progress through life- not to mention a healthier lifestyle all around. I’m no longer constantly occupied with wanting to drink all the time, and as a result, sobriety has helped clear the mental fog. It’s elevated my thinking and helped me stay focused on creating the life I always wanted to.
[S]: Where did the name “Icon for Hire” come from?
[A&S]: The band name is a jab at how unhealthy the music industry can be and the crazy expectations that are placed on its members. Society often bestows more influence and power to artists than they are able to bear, and the results are often challenging for both the artist and their fans.
[S]: Do you guys remember the moment that you discovered your love for music and how to use it to promote others’ journey of “progression not perfection”?
[A&S]: We both fell in love with music in our teenage years, for how it impacted us. We are trying to be open and honest about our journey with our audience- in our lyrics and how we show up- because being vulnerable seems to give other people permission to do the same. We don’t always get it right, but we try to center back to that.
[S]: The work you guys are doing takes long hours and may not reap many personal rewards. What keeps you guys committed to your mission?
[A&S]: It’s actually the personal intrinsic rewards that are the most motivating. Feeling like we’re fulfilling our purpose, enjoying full autonomy over the music we create, getting to inspire our audience, all that drives us. When we were running on that type of fuel, we are able to go a lot harder than if we are trying to motivate ourselves with external accolades or recognition.
[S]: Are there any success stories that have truly impacted you both over the years? Could you share one?
[A&S]: We are really inspired by all the creators who have been at it a long time, keeping their heads down, staying in their lane, and adding value to the world. We love how there is a middle class of artists surfacing, where you’re not a brand new garage band, but you’re not a Billboard top 10 artist either.
[S]: Because you guys aren’t “typical rockstars”, has that been difficult to overcome or change that narrative?
[A&S]: It’s sometimes kind of nice to be underestimated! People often assume we are “just musicians” but we have a huge passion for business and so we run our band like the business that it is. We also find the journey is more meaningful when it’s coming from a place of wanting to serve and inspire rather than cash in for quick fame or money. We’re in this for the long run, and so we can afford to go slow and do it our way.
[S]: Besides shifting to virtual platforms, what other new initiatives and tactics have you developed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?
[A&S]: Not touring has allowed us to focus on building out the infrastructure of our processes and systems in a way that we never have before. It’s giving us time to think intentionally about our future, and how we want to show up in the world. And in some ways it’s allowed us to connect with our fans on a whole new level, by seeing their faces regularly on zoom calls, and we’re able to interact with fans from countries we’ve never toured before. That’s really special.
[S]: If someone asked you for guidance or advice for maintaining sobriety during this pandemic, what would you tell them?
[A&S]: From Shawn- Reach out to people asap! Get connected with other people that share the same common goals. Call, Facetime, Zoom, text, whatever you can do, do it now and don’t waste any more time. Isolation is something all addicts and alcoholics do not have the luxury of doing. Boredom and loneliness is a recipe for self destructive tendencies that are wired in most people pursuing sobriety, so reach out, connect, and don’t fall into the self victim trap that all addicts and alcoholics are really good at!
[S]: Is there anything you’d like to work on or anyone you’d like to work with in the future?
[A&S]: Shawn is really getting into NFT’s and the crypto space, so we can definitely see that being something we pursue in the near future. Collaboration wise, we would love to work with bands like Halestorm, I Prevail, and Mike Shinoda.
Make sure to keep up-to-date with our Icons for Hire and join the musical movement.
Check out Icon for Hire in our mental health panel, Mental Health: The Good, The Bad, and The Sober: