Duglas T Stewart of the BMX Bandits
Tell us why you're supporting MHF Live
I have been living with mental health issues for many years now. These issues have threatened my life, affected my standard of life adversely and are related to my ongoing physical wellbeing. Being an artist, my mental health issues have also been a defining part of who I am and of my work.
"I have a voice. Many with similar issues do not."
Good things have come out of my own mental health issues as well as negative things. As I get older I find life harder to navigate and my mental health can be difficult to manage. I have a voice, many with similar issues affecting them do not and so I feel it important to be part of this.
What’s your earliest musical memory?
Listening to recordings my parents had bought for my sister and I, of songs from classic Disney movies like The Jungle Book and Mary Poppins. I still love these songs, the melodic, lyrical and emotional content of them. Some of the songs from Mary Poppins deal with mental health issues. I didn't realise that as a child but they made me feel good when I listened to them.
What does music do for your mental health?
As an artist, it's a way to connect with others. That's always been a primary aim for me. It also has given me the opportunity at times to make something positive, something other people can enjoy out of feelings and situations that have been difficult and painful.
As a listener, music can help soothe my troubled soul when that's what I need. It can make me feel less alone, less lost. Music has been a very good and much needed friend many times in my life.
Who is the musician who has most inspired you?
It's unrealistic to single out just one but for this I'll say Brian Wilson who is most well known as the leader of The Beach Boys. He taught me so much about melody, harmony, arrangement but also about being emotionally true in your work.
Brian also teaches you that melody and humour are useful tools for bypassing the intellect and going straight to the listener's heart and soul.
What makes you happy?
So many things: true beauty, kindness, love, music, art, innocence, dancing, singing...
What’s the best sound in the world? And the worst?
Best: A child's innocent laughter.
Worst: Someone crying in great distress.
What song is in your head just now?
A song by the Italian soundtrack composer Ennio Morricone called Deep Deep Down. It's sexy, it's fun and musically it's brilliant.
Please tell us about (and share) a piece of music that has had an impact on your mental health.
Many songs have helped me at times of mental distress or uncertainty. One of the most recent that has offered me hope, encouragement and a smile when I've needed it, is a song called Trampoline by a young group called Kero Kero Bonito.
It has an untamed exuberance and a good heart. It offers positive messages including "don't forget to bounce" which I've found helpful. It's become a mantra for me in recent times. It's beautiful, positive and makes me feel better about life when I listen to it.
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.