Award winning poet Leyla Josephine

Tell us about your involvement with MHF Live

I’m performing at the Glasgow film premiere of We Are All Here. When I heard about the film I was desperate to see it. I didn't know Lumo at all but I have pals in the hip hop community so I heard about him passing and saw its tear in the community.
My family has suffered from three suicides, all men and it's always felt very close and very real since I was small. It's a great cause and the more we talk the more we lessen the weight on people's shoulders.
It's also a good opportunity to talk about health services and how they're being cut and tightened, what changes we need not only in our communities but in our government and councils. I've been working with the Mental Health Foundation with a group of women and have seen first hand the amazing work they do for people and the space they provide for their participants to self reflect and grow. 

What can we expect from you at the MHF Live event in Glasgow? 

I'm going to be performing some poems that tie in with the themes of the gig and I'll be bringing some very special guests along with me to perform their own writing.

What’s your earliest musical memory?

Listening to CDs in the car with my mum.  We used to drive to Ireland a few times a year and we'd always fight over what music to play on the journey. She'd want to play trad and I'd want pop. The things we always settled on were Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, Eva Cassidy, O'Brother Where Art Thou Soundtrack and Abba.
Hearing this music now takes me right back and I've actually started to like trad which is hilarious because I gave my mum so much grief for it when I was younger. 

What does music do for your mental health?

It really depends, I can feel super sensitive to music, sometimes when it's too intense I have to turn it off, but it also has this amazing ability to settle me. I love playing the radio in my house when I wake up in the morning. I also like pumping loud dance music when I need to hype myself up for something or belting ballads when I'm driving.
Some songs help me revisit times in my life, they manage to capture a feeling of the time and place when I was listening to the track a lot. I think music is pure magic. 

Who is the musician who has most inspired you?

The Arctic Monkeys were the first proper band I fell in love with. Alex Turner's lyrics on 'Whatever People I Say I Am That's What I'm Not' were so relatable and managed to tell a story with a bit of tongue and cheek while still being poetic. Him and Jamie T got me started writing poetry in a way. 
I recently saw Young Fathers and I was so impressed with their performance, lighting and the composition on their new album. It is like nothing I’ve ever heard before so I’m totally inspired by them at the moment. 

What makes you happy?

Dogs, reading and dancing.

What’s the best sound in the world? And the worst?

I love the sound of cereal hitting a bowl and my friend rosie laughing. I sometimes have tinnitus and it drives me up the wall. 

What song is in your head just now?

All of Rachel Sermmani's songs at the moment, she is perfect listening for frosty mornings and cold sunshine. 

Please tell us about (and share) a piece of music that has had an impact on your mental health.

I've been recently listening to 'Don't Think Twice It's Alright' by Bob Dylan and it's making me think a lot about letting go and forgiveness. 
Leyla Josephine will perform as part of MHF Live at St Luke’s, Glasgow, on Sunday 10th February. More information and tickets
Photo credit: Jassy Earl 

Get involved

MHF Live is the Mental Health Foundation's new music fundraising initiative that aims to raise awareness, raise money and raise the roof for mental health.

Find out more about MHF Live