We had the pleasure of talking with London grime MC Ashley Weir (aka Stickz) and Peter Leigh, CEO of Key Changes, about the transformative effects of music on mental health. Stickz likens performing to therapy and explains how his art – through support from Key Changes – has empowered him deal with many personal challenges he’s faced including the death of his mum, being stabbed and living with bipolar disorder. Peter’s early background working with UK labels and his passion for music has created a brilliant foundation to develop Key Changes’ award-winning music recovery programme for young people experiencing mental health problems. It’s clear from Peter and Stickz’ positivity and energy why everyone wants to pick up the mic after joining Key Changes. This episode will leave you buzzing!
As a music charity, Key Changes provides recovery programmes for young people experiencing mental health problems, delivering engaging services that are creative, inclusive, accessible, culturally-relevant, and fun!
They are based in London but work nationally and are an award-winning charity providing music industry focused mental health recovery services in hospitals and the community for musicians, song writers, lyricists, producers, vocalists and MCs.
Peter Leigh is CEO of Key Changes where he’s worked for the past 12 years leading a programme of recovery-focused music industry support for 3,000 musicians in London and other cities across England. Peter’s early background working in marketing for UK labels such as Rough Trade, Polydor and One Little Indian has created a great foundation to develop an artist’s professional practice into a therapeutic approach that aims to promote wellbeing and boost recovery from conditions including Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia.
Ashley Weir aka StickzN15 is a grime MC hailing from Tottenham, London. Stickz pulls on his own experiences to articulate the many perils he has overcame to stand in the booth and give an inner-city portrayal of life in his shoes. From the ages 16-21 Stickz was in and out of prison and having trouble maintaining a normal life let alone progressing as an artist. At 21 Stickz was stabbed four times which resulted in a collapsed lung and made him reconsider the path he was taking. Stickz has developed a unique style and spits tales of personal turmoil, injustice, development and growth.