Q&A: Music and medicine with HI MOTIVE’s Dr Ed Rose
Dr Rose talks about balancing his creative streak with a career in medicine
Wellbeing
May 29, 2020

Dr Ed Rose is a Sydney-based doctor (PGY3). He’s also one half of indie electronic duo HI MOTIVE.

Together with friend and fellow musician Matt Rowe, Dr Ed creates easy listening, upbeat tunes with a driving beat, ethereal vocals and just the right amount of bass. It’s music that’ll go down just as well on summery festival fields as it does as a backing track when working from home during lockdown.

Alongside training and working as a doctor, Ed has found early success with HI MOTIVE. They’ve performed live at festivals like Jam in a Jar Charity Festival and Sydney’s Electronic Music Conference (EMC). HI MOTIVE has also featured on Triple J Unearthed and can be found on major streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.

Matt and Dr Ed’s original plan was to create and record their debut album in Berlin, Germany. But thanks to a little thing called Covid, the creative process will now happen closer to home, in Tasmania.  

Medworld gave Dr Ed a call to find out how he balances music and medicine.

Ed Rose (L) and Matt Rowe (R)

How do you balance creating music with practicing medicine?

It has been quite hard to balance because I am very passionate about both areas. I’ve had to find a way to squeeze them both into my life.

Through med school I balanced it relatively well with quite flexible study hours. But being a junior doctor for the past two years, it’s been quite a struggle to do those compulsory hours of attendance and having this passion project on the side. So often, it’s left me feeling a little burnt out.

My plan was always to complete my two years of training as a junior doctor and then take some time to focus on music. That’s where locuming opened up as a good opportunity for me. Locuming has enabled me the flexibility to keep working and studying but also to let me do my music in between.

This year has all been about doing some locum work and then… well, initially the plan was to travel to Berlin and write an album there. But that’s kinda fallen through now, especially with all the moving pieces due to Covid. So, it’s now more of an Australian-based expedition!

How important it is to you, to do both?

It’s really important for me. Growing up I was always very passionate about the arts.                                                                                  

In terms of keeping the music active, that’s always been easy because it’s a hobby that I really enjoy and it’s something I can earn money doing… so I’m hoping to do that, to turn it into something that’s more than a hobby.

In terms of medicine, I’ve always been interested in biology and the human body and how amazing we are as machines. And I guess I’ve always found that medicine is a good way for me to make a positive impact on society over a long career and financially, it can support my music as well. The two interplay well, I can make a positive impact through my medical career, and I can make a positive impact on people through my music – and also on myself, by pursuing creative expression through my music.

HI MOTOVE at EMC Sydney

Do you think there’s a similarity – can music be healing too?

I think at this stage, I’m probably making more impact in the medical sphere!

My music is still emerging. In terms of the actual impact that medicine and music can have on society, they can both be far reaching. Medicine has a literal impact because health is a number on priority for everyone – health is the foundation of a good life.

In terms of wellbeing, music is one of the many pillars of creativity and curiosity that people need to have in their life.

Everyone has an interest in music to a certain degree – whether that's listening on their drive to work or publishing music. Music can have a very far reaching impact and you can see the number of big artists who have had an impact on people’s lives. You’ll hear people talk about certain songs or albums that have had a big impact on them, or helped them get through difficult times in their lives.

Music, like other things in the arts, can all have a big impact on people’s lives, even though that’s different from the literal impact of medicine. It’s more abstract.

Are there any songs or albums important to you, that have had a big impact on your life?            

Oh, gee. That’s a good question. I think I’ve been fortunate in that I have had a good life… I haven’t had any particular mental health issues where I’ve felt I’ve need to grab on to something… but I’ve gone through loss of life like many people have. And there’s songs I have attached meaning to over time.

The one that always gets me is ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay. It’s a classic one, but the way it’s written and the chords really strike me. It’s cropped up over different times of my life, whether that's a funerals or in the final episode of a TV series that I’ve loved! It’s solidified with those moments in my brain.

It’s struck a chord, not because it’s helped me get through something, but it has helped me process certain emotions.

Dr Ed Rose has been passionate about the arts since high school

What does your creative process look like?

Well, we’ve never written an album together, so part of our creative process will be sitting down and working that out. We’ve been talking over the last few weeks about how we want to go about it. We want to put out a body of work that has an overarching meaning and connection over a number of songs. Hopefully that will allow us to express something bigger.

So, I think we’ll sit down and think about what theme or meaning we’d like the album to have. We’ll probably have a discussion about the recent experiences in our lives and look at the things we feel are important to express. And then it’ll be the matter of creating the songs and writing the lyrics that fit those themes and allow us to develop particular emotions through the chords and the sounds that we create.

A lot of this is not very rigid or methodical, it’s a bit all over the place. But we want to go in knowing what we want to come out of it all with.

This is a big next step and it’s going to take a couple of months. Actually, I bet it’s going to take a heap of energy and we’ll end up burnt out, just as you can with any career. But at this stage, we’re really, really excited.

How will you manage burnout? Is this something you’ve experienced as a doctor?

There’s burnout that comes with being a doctor, from the long hours and it’s emotionally exhausting (from the content of the work). I think music can be the same. You can reach burnout through creative exhaustion, and hitting a roadblock can be very exhausting. Then, there’s feelings of rejection, or the feeling that it’s just too hard, or that you just don’t have ‘it’ – all those things that young, emerging artists often feel. We’ve felt that too.

We try to make sure that we break up our moments of creation with moments of joy, to try and relax. I’ve found that doing locum work has allowed me to focus my energy back onto something else. I really enjoy being a doctor and jumping between the two I find really helpful. Music and medicine are mutually exclusive, for me. They engage different parts of my brain which I find helps me to feel refreshed when I jump back and forth between the two.

Keep up with the latest from HI MOTIVE via their website, or Facebook @himotivemusic.

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Medworld interview with Dr Ed Rose from HI MOTIVE

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