Two years ago Chris Ho was in a funk.
The Vancouver-based singer-songwriter had been touring across Canada in support of his debut album, City of Dust, but he had become so “wrapped-up” in his work and things were happening so quickly that he started losing the passion for performing and quit touring completely.
“Not knowing what to do and kind of losing yourself in the process led to a lot of depression and being extremely antisocial and then that of course escalating the depression as well,” Ho said.
“There was a point in Victoria where someone bumped into me and they were like, ‘You still live here?’ because I’d actually hermitted up that much.”
One day Ho went for a walk when came across a book donation bin. On an “instinctual whim” he peeked in and picked up A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by spiritual self-help author Eckhart Tolle and he found that it put into words exactly what he was going through.
“If we wrap our identity into something too much then the ego kind of takes over and it can feel good for a while, especially if you feel like’ ‘Oh, people really like this,’” He explained.
“But, ultimately, the nature of ego is that it’s never satisfied. So there’s always an, ‘Oh, but I could be better,’ or, ‘I’m not good enough.’ And the reinforcement of those thoughts cause a really negative thought pattern.”
Once Ho started recognizing what it was that was making him unhappy, he said he made the conscious decision to abandon that behaviour. He said while the “tortured artist” role works for some people, it didn’t work for him.
Ho drew on his experience with depression on his most recent album, Places You’ve Been, released last fall. He said a lot of the songs were written during that time, while others reflect back on that difficult period.
This spring Ho is touring and performing for the first time in two years. The B.C. road trip will bring him to the Vault Café on May 10. He said it’s been challenging getting back into touring mode, but not because he’s rusty.
“[It’s] more of a psychological kind of challenge, because even as I start to get back into it, I sometimes will catch myself accidentally enveloping myself into the persona of what the songs are and the artist version of me … and then I have to take a step back for a second and realize that and move on from it,” he said.
“So on that note, that’s where the challenge has been. But ultimately it’s been going very well.”
When Ho held his album release concert in Vancouver an eager audience awaited him. He said seeing that people were still interested in what he had to say after his break from performing keeps him motivated.
“That is what keeps me going and keeps the desire of wanting to create and share those moments where people have that genuine moment of, ‘This song just describes my situation perfectly right now.’”
WHAT’S ON … Chris Ho performs at the Vault Café on Thursday, May 10. Doors at 8:30 p.m., show at 9 p.m. $10 cover at the door.