“Blood stains; the deepest cut. Heartache and we’ve had enough. Shoot us down and we get back up” sings Tyni, a 22 year old singer from Sheffield. The lyrics mark the beginning of a collaboration between Tyni and the leading independent music charity, Help Musicians UK (HMUK).
For 97 years, HMUK has aided musicians across the UK. Dedicated to offering support and opportunities for working and retired musicians, the charity commissioned the University of Westminster and MusicTank in 2016 to complete the first UK academic study on the incidence of mental health and musicians.
The study came after a dramatic increase in requests for help to the charity. The study, which involved 2211 participants across the UK’s music industry, was named “Can music make you sick?” and sought to determine the links between musicians’ experiences of mental illness and how they felt their environment increased their exposure to depression, panic attacks, and anxiety.
Early findings revealed that 71.1% of respondents had experienced incidences of anxiety and panic attacks and 68.5% of respondents had experienced incidences of depression. Even though the majority of participants stated that they had dealt with mental ill-health, 52.7% reported that they found it difficult to get help, and a further 54.8% considered there were gaps in the provision of available help.
While the answers from the study formed both quantitative and qualitative data, the findings revealed one major revelation: “whereas artists find solace in the production of music, the working conditions of forging a musical career are traumatic.”
It was clear that action had to be taken to protect not only the participants, but every single musician seeking help in the UK. In December 2017, HMUK launched Music Minds Matter which works alongside clinical partners and qualified experts to deliver the music industry’s first dedicated mental health support line and service. Available by phone 24/7 and by email (monitored regularly with a response of 48 hours) the individually tailored service combines emotional support, advice on debt, and signposting to additional help with addiction, sexual harassment, and homelessness.
For a service so emerged in the UK’s music industry, it seems right that it should now have an anthem to exemplify the remarkable work of the service, alongside the strength and resilience of its users.
‘Fighter’ was named the official anthem of the charity at the beginning of the year. Co-written by Josh Record (Ella Henderson & MNEK) and produced by Wayne Wilkins (Beyonce & Cheryl), the song’s message is summed up by its singer in three words: “courage; strength; empowerment.”
Tyni, the singer behind the empowering song, explained that her involvement with the charity is important because although darkness is a place where creativity can thrive, it’s still an issue that often is not given a voice. Her hard-hitting lyrics are entwined with an emotional story which makes the song incredibly powerful. Like many musicians, her love of music stemmed from her parents’ trashy collection and her dad’s love of The Beatles and Phil Collins, which then transitioned into her own discovery of otherworldly music from Cyndi Lauper, Peter Gabriel and Lene Lovich.
Tyni has already worked and recorded with some of the biggest songwriters and producers in the UK and LA including PC Music’s Sophie (Britney & Madonna) and Charlie XCX. With attention quickly spreading for the singer, the release of ‘Fighter’ in 2017 saw her make a debut performance at Glastonbury Festival last summer. The single itself has reached an outstanding 400,000 plays on Spotify, with each day seeing a steady increase as music fans are encouraged to ‘Donate with a play’.
The collaboration between Tyni and HMUK ensures that with every listen and donation made, all money raised will provide the charity with the necessary funds to maintain the service.
The singer has a personal connection with the song and the charity, saying “as a musician, I have seen first hand how tough it can be to keep a career going when struggling with your own demons”. More importantly, Tyni wholeheartedly believes that Music Minds Matter will change the music industry. In her opinion, “I think we need to protect our musicians. If people are offered the right support we can avoid this kind of suffering; even if we take baby steps, it’s a step in the right direction.”
Being able to drive Music Minds Matter forward is such a colossal task for HMUK but one the team should be immensely proud of. Music is a method of pouring emotion and creativity into a physical form but it’s important to acknowledge that every musician has more than three minutes’ worth of anxiety, worries, and emotion that shouldn’t be ignored when the music ends.
For the CEO of HMUK, Richard Robinson, the collaboration will see the track “resonate and raise the profile of the much needed service and raise additional funds to support even more people and expand it beyond the UK”. Moving forward, Richard explains that HMUK wants to “continue making a difference and help build a sustainable future for this country’s music industry, by supporting the mental health of those who need it most.”
As for Tyni, she’ll be heading to The Great Escape Festival in May and music fans won’t have to wait long to hear more from the singer. She’s got lots of music ready to be released so fans can stay up to date on her releases on social media.
As expected, she loves northern fans, explaining that “northern people always have a bit more grit…We are the friendliest, but the hardest people to understand; the most genuine with big hearts.”
Those needing help and emotional support can contact the Music Minds Matter service on 0808 802 8008 free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Advice can also be accessed by emailing MMM@helpmusicians.org.uk (note a 48 hour turnaround).
For more information on Help Musicians UK and Music Minds Matter, visit them on Facebook and Twitter. To hear from musicians who have been helped by the charity, their stories can be found on YouTube.