David Acosta graduated from Montclair State University with a Bachelor of Arts in theater studies with a minor in anthropology back in 2014. Since graduation, Acosta has been performing as a hip-hop rapper under the stage name Murdock in Jersey City, New Jersey. Acosta spoke candidly about his mental health issues and how channeling them through his music became the best medicine.
Q: Where does your stage name Murdock come from?
A: I’m a huge comic book geek. I work at a comic shop, and I was always really into this superhero called ‘Daredevil.’ His character’s name is Matthew Murdock and he has this persona as ‘the man without fear.’ I kind of see myself as a shy and anxious guy on the streets, but on stage, I see myself as the man without fear and my anxieties just go away.
Q: What were you like as a student at Montclair State?
A: I was good. I got my good grades, but I was trying to find myself. I feel like that is the college thing, where you have to find [your] identity and everything. I was hopping around groups of friends until I found who I was comfortable hanging out with. I got to test out a lot of different fields in theater, such as directing, acting and costume production. [My college experience] solidified my passion in art as a career.
Q: When did you discover your love for rap music?
A: I began writing rhymes when I was in the seventh or eighth grade. It wasn’t anything serious but into high school and college, I was filling up notebooks with lyrics. So it developed into something more serious a year after I graduated college.
Q: What mental health issues have you been battling with?
A: I have been diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder), anxiety and depression. I [was diagnosed with] Tourette’s, OCD and ADHD when I was 8 years old. Then anxiety and depression kind of crept up on me through high school. I’ve always been in and out of therapy and on different medications. It’s mostly for the anxiety. Nights can be kind of tough when you are by yourself and you are anxious.
Q: How is music therapeutic for you as you go through your mental health issues?
A: When I am feeling down, like this winter because I go through the seasonal blues, working with my producers while making music helped put me in a better mood. I was focused on something that I am passionate about, so it gives me that thing to look forward to and wake up in the morning. I believe that all art is some sort of release and it is super important. My last album called ‘Agoraphobic. Alcoholic. Asshole.’ was all about my battle with mental health and it feels great to write these thoughts out and give it a voice.
Q: When you perform, does your Tourette’s worsen or improve?
A: When I’m on stage, I get so hyper focused on performing and putting on this theatrical show that it kind of slips to the back of my mind more. It’s still there, but it is easier to control. Or maybe I just don’t notice it so much.
Q: Is there any artist that you aspire to be like or is similar to you?
A: I’m really into this one rapper named Danny Brown. He raps with this crazy, high-pitched voice about his struggles with drug addiction and his demons. He does it in such a wild, theatrical way. I am also super inspired by Kanye West and he’s gone through a lot of mental health issues. When he puts out the music, it’s always something amazing. Seeing him in concert made me realize that hip-hop can be more than just rapping. You can have a whole set, a plot and different actors on stage bringing something bigger. That’s what I want to do.
Q: Have you ever had a fan encounter where it touched your heart or struck you the most?
A: I feel like usually after I perform, I have somebody come to me and thank me for being so vulnerable and transparent about my mental health issues. A lot of people deal with it and are too afraid to talk about it in public. They appreciate that I bare it all on stage and they know they’re not alone in whatever they are going through. I always try to connect with my audience and it usually works out pretty well.