Mentoring, mindfulness and mental health are at the core of what drives Newcastle musician and motivational speaker Matt Purcell.
The Korean-born man, who was adopted as a child by his Australian parents, has recently published his first book, Life Hacks for Mindful Living, and is about to release his new EP, Songs For a Friend.
Both have been inspired by his work as a life coach and mentor for young people, as well as his own experiences with bullying and social issues at school.
“Being adopted as a child from Korea and going through many challenges through school - family challenges, bullying and seeing others go through their stress and pain - I think instilled in me an obsession in wanting to discover what drives our behaviour,” he said.
“There’s a distinct belief that drives my efforts to inspire others. It’s that no matter what happens in your life, you can make it work for you and not against you if you’re willing to be teachable, accountable and be willing to question the story you keep telling yourself and others about your reasons why you can or can't do something.
“Role models have always played an important part in human history because they reveal what is possible - they show us what forgiveness looks like, what leadership looks like, what family looks like.
“My focus is mental health and wellbeing. I believe we all have the capacity and responsibility to manage our mental health and if we don't, we risk living a life enslaved by the pressures of culture, life, and others.”
Matt believes learning techniques to improve a person’s mental health and well-being helps to empower them. It is something he has been putting into practice for years, speaking to young people in schools for a not-for-profit organisation and working with people at his Warners Bay business The Green Room. It is a message he hopes to spread even further through his new book.
“I'm a practical thinker and person... some would describe me as a “doer”,” Matt said.
“So when I see thousands of young people’s emails and messages in my inbox crying out for help with anxiety, bullying, mental illness and family problems for years now, writing a book on some practical tools and tactics seemed natural.
“Anxiety is Australia’s number one mental illness and concern. One-quarter of young people are experiencing it. What tools are we taught to deal with our emotional and psychological challenges?
“The book contains many techniques and important stats on anxiety, stress and an overview of what mental health is and why it is so important to manage.
“I am working with schools across NSW right now who are wanting the book in a school program format, and I’m developing a mental health program for the fitness industry too.
“Mental health techniques and awareness are two very important things that will help empower people.”
Music is also the perfect conduit for getting a message across to young people. Matt has been recording songs since he was a teenager and has a solid base of fans around the world and especially in Asia, where he was signed to a major Korean music label. His sound has been described as a combination of John Mayer’s guitar style and Ed Sheeran’s smooth vocals.
Matt said he loved how much could be communicated in the few minutes it takes to listen to a song, with music helping him “through a lot of tough times” over the years.
“I have been a musician by trade since I was a teenager, I started recording music when I was 16 and toured and shared the stage with some of my favourite Australian artists,” he said.
“I was signed to a subdivision of Sony in Korea when I was 21, and we sold around 50,000 in online sales.
“Needless to say, the contract was terrible, and I experienced a blow in the music industry at a young age.
“Since my Korean experience, I have continued to evolve as an artist and have released a new single just before my new EP comes out, which is called Songs For A Friend.
“This release has been birthed from a much different place in my life (than the previous EPs). Musically it’s emotive and dynamic, and lyrically very conversational and story based. I really like these tracks.
“I’ve been life-coaching youth and families for the past four years, speaking and performing around the place and meeting so many types of people.
“All of these songs have been written from a real observation of different people’s choices and consequences. One song on this EP came from how a young kid assaulted his single-parent mother and how I went to court with him to support him. Another one was about a friend who had her heart broken by the same type of guy over and over again.
“The needs that drive our actions inspire me to write songs.
“My latest single ‘Take It Slow’ is all about being mindful of how quickly people grow up, how that no matter if you’re 90 or 14 years old, you'll never be this young again.”
While Matt hopes to be a positive influence on other people’s lives through his work, his words and his music, the 29-year-old said his own influences have been many and varied.
“One of my favourite proverbs is ‘It takes a tribe to raise a child’, and I think that explains so much about my influences,” he said.
“My parents - who I love dearly, adopted me and my adopted sister. They taught me selflessness and support. My music tutors gave me confidence and guidance.
“Christianity has also really influenced my values. Not confusing it with religion, what I call “Churchianity”, which focuses more on the practices and running of activities, but I mean the real values of what it's all about. Human value and flourishing. I’m into that. Looking after the poor and needy, the widows, the broken. That is what true religion is.”
Check out more of Matt Purcell’s work online at www.mattpurcell.com