I first joined Good Vibrations’ Loophole Music project in 2018, when I was a patient in Bethlem Royal Hospital in Bromley. I was so happy to be creative again. It reawakened something in me that had been lying dormant for a long time.
In the 80’s and early 90’s I sang with a band in pubs and clubs in South London. I really loved it, but then in the late 90’s, due to mental health problems, I found myself in hospital for the first time. When I came out, I joined another band playing covers and writing some of our own songs too. It was going really well, but, you know, sometimes life gets in the way of your plans. I was admitted to hospital again. Taking part in Loophole Music definitely helped me with my recovery. I think music is a truly international language and it’s very therapeutic – I find it very soothing, comforting and relaxing.
I take care of my mental health now by making sure I get plenty of fresh air and exercise, and by getting involved in positive activities. I work in Bethlem Hospital through a charity called Hear Us, giving peer support to patients. One day in 2020 when I was working, I saw a notice about Loophole Music and I asked if I could join again. Kieran and Bison, who run the project, encouraged me to focus on writing my own music and lyrics. So I started working on some songs I’d begun a long time ago and never got a chance to finish. It’s really exciting to be able to make music again. I’ve got plenty more songs inside me. I mainly sing and I’m learning to play a bit of bass and keyboard too – just a few chords. I even played violin using an ipad the other day. Music technology is all new to me!
I find the Loophole Music project inspiring. It has really helped me and has become an important part of my life, so much so that I volunteer at Loophole now. I get a lot out of helping others who are going through something similar to what I’ve been through myself. Between sessions I can still work on my own songs, which means I can keep my own creativity going too.
One thing I loved doing was helping Kieran and Bison run an online workshop from a pub in Stockwell as part of the Maudsley Charity festival to mark World Mental Health Day 2020. I learned a great deal from the experience, and it gave me a lot of confidence too. I hope I’ll be able to stay volunteering with Loophole for a long while – I’m here as long as they’ll have me!
You can watch Tony creating a track called Time at Loophole Music here