Love and other drugs

Symmetry revisits his inner 'Junky'
By CHRIS CONTI  |  October 9, 2013

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FROM 'THE LOW' TO NEW HIGHS Slavtcheff.

Multi-talented rapper/singer/producer Mike Slavtcheff, aka Symmetry, dives headfirst into his drug-riddled past and confronts his diary with a vengeance across his spellbinding new album Junky, the long-awaited follow-up to his uber-funky 2009 breakthrough Symmetry and Ryan Lewis (yep, Macklemore’s partner). Junky is equal parts stark and beautiful thanks to Symmetry’s expressive wordplay, breathing life into his recollections of a drug-fueled downward spiral. Junky is a self-produced one-man show and Symmetry is a DIY workhorse; this album is more than worth the four-year wait. Pick it up right now at iTunes or symmetrymusic.bandcamp.com. The disc will also be available at the official Junky release party at the Columbus Theatre on October 18.

Slavtcheff still lives in his hometown of Centredale and works as a graphic designer. His parents relocated to the Appalachians around eight years ago; his musically-inclined mom was a singer back in the day (“I still have a VHS of her from like the ’70s looking all cool,” said Slavtcheff) and his father, “a military man,” had always been rhyming silly little songs in the kitchen when he was very young. But Centredale also played host to Symmetry’s initial flirtation with narcotics; what started with smoking weed and “selling rolled blunts out of a glass jar” to his eighth-grade classmates eventually led to ecstasy, mushrooms, and opiates one year later.

“I don’t have an addictive personality, I just liked losing myself in the feelings associated with these chemicals,” he told me earlier this week. And when the ecstasy ran dry, his crew moved on to crack and heroin.

“I did some awful drugs that pushed me off the deep end — I completely lost my mind,” he said. “I didn’t sleep for 12 days, and I was in a constant state of terror.”

Slavtcheff battled through the debilitating physical and mental anguish thanks to family support along with “proper nutrition and a holistic approach.

“Doctors prescribed me different medicines and I refused to take any of them,” he said. “I used the most potent medicines available: vitamins and herbal remedies, a clean plant and seafood-based diet, sunshine, exercise, and lots of love.

“It’s been over six years since I wrote the title track and I haven’t taken any drugs — not even caffeine,” he continued. (These days he’s only hooked on his P90X workout regiment.)

“The songs on this new album are pages of my diary during the most trying time of my life thus far,” said Slavtcheff, “and it has all been quite therapeutic to get it out in song.”

Symmetry and his management team opened a Kickstarter campaign to raise the final $6000 needed to complete the album. That goal was reached in just six hours.

“I was laminating some things at my job when my manager called me that day to tell me we made it,” he recalled. “That must have looked pretty stupid to anyone walking by, seeing a grown man crying while laminating a piece of paper.”

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