“I believe all mental health sufferers have a talent.”
Daniel Webster has battled with mental health conditions since the age of 11 but his talent for music has helped him channel his inner thoughts into something very productive.
The 30-year-old, who goes by the name of Desolate 909 in music circles, has been singing for 15 years and is also a recording artist and music producer in his own right. Having created over 80 tracks in various genres including R&B, hip-hop, rock, house and drum and bass, Dan has learnt to cope with his depression and mild schizophrenia through focusing on his greatest passion.
But when Bromford support worker Brad Tonks first met Dan three years ago, he had been summoned to court and was on the verge of being evicted from his then property.
“I think it’s fair to say Dan was still in a pretty difficult place back then and we’ve had to provide him with a lot of support to get him to where he is now. We’ve been helping him to get his bills sorted and he’s found a home now where he’s more comfortable and feels he wants to move forward in,” Brad said.
Dan had difficulty developing his reading and writing skills during his early years at school and doctors first diagnosed him as suffering from mental health before becoming a teenager. He excelled in athletics up until the age of 20 and competed as a runner in the GB Paralympics team, winning a stack of medals from all over Europe which he still proudly shows off when people ask.
Since then he has focused on his music and has set up a recording studio in the living room of his one-bedroom flat in Castle Bromwich. As a vocalist, he even made it to the second round at two separate X Factor auditions in Birmingham city centre.
He said: “I struggled with reading and writing and all the things you needed to do well at school. School wasn’t for me and I soon noticed that I was perhaps good at things most people aren’t. A couple of mates taught me how to produce music and I put my own little spin on it and was hooked – since then I have just learnt and taught myself as I’ve gone along.
“Music is a massive part of my life and it gives me confidence. If you listen closely to my music you’ll see that a lot of the time it reflects how I’m feeling whether that be through the lyrics or simply the mood of the music.”
And Dan, who lists Stevie Wonder as one of his musical inspirations, is aiming to eventually use his music to help others in a similar situation.
“I believe all mental health sufferers have a talent – all you’ve got to do is find out what you want to do. I’d love to get some funding to teach other young people with mental health conditions how to produce music. I could run classes in the local community and if it can keep kids off the streets and give them a direction in life then it’s got to be worth doing,” he added.