A young woman has used her experience of child abuse to pen the debut single from an award winning music project.
Steph McCrystal’s song Nightlife tells the story of her close relationship with her brother and their experiences of child abuse.
Released today, the single is the first to be put out by the Ensemble songwriting collective, an initiative designed to help young people who have experienced mental ill health and homelessness.
Dedicated to her brother, Steph wrote the song to tell him he would never be alone.
“We grew up in an abusive household and it talks about the troubles we had together,” she said.
“When I wrote the song, I was in a homeless unit, my life was all over the place and I was diagnosed with anxiety, so everything was very overwhelming.
“Being able to write this song for my brother was really special to me.
“He deals with a lot, so if he ever needs me, no matter where I am or what time it is, he can listen to it and not be alone.”
Steph, 20, wrote the song with musicians Jill O’Sullivan and Tony McNamee.
The trio were brought together by the project, which partners young people, who have experienced homelessness and mental health issues with professional musicians to write and record original music about their experiences.
The coronavirus pandemic saw the project – run by Wheatley Care – shift online, with Zoom songwriting and recording sessions.
Steph, from Paisley, said the workshops gave her the chance to have her voice heard. She said: “I want to raise awareness of child abuse and what goes on behind closed doors.
“Lots of people turned a blind eye to my situation. I was just a child and they thought it was normal or it was none of their business.
“I didn’t have a voice to speak up when I was little but I’m a grown woman now, I’m a lot stronger.”
She added: “The idea for the song came to me during an Ensemble songwriting workshop, then I went home and just poured my heart out on paper and took it all to Jill and Tony, who helped turn it into a song.
“Recording the song was pretty terrifying, I was dealing with a lot of social anxiety, so talking to people, never mind singing in front of people, was nerve-wracking.
“Luckily, I had an amazing support system from everyone at Ensemble and from Tony McNamee, who was my key worker at the time.
“Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
Ensemble’s debut album, No Place Like It, is to be released in Spring 2021. It explores ideas of home and
The Ensemble songwriting collective is funded by the Scottish Government through Creative Scotland’s Youth Music Initiative.