Folk artist’s battle with mental health

Shem Sharples
Shem Sharples

British indie-folk artist Shem Sharples (pictured above on the left) has been busy working on new music and recently released a brand new visual for his new single Clear Crystal View.

But things haven’t been quite so rosy for the performer, he told ABLE2UK how he had to live with a severe mental health disorder after his first break in the music industry playing with one of the biggest bands in the world.

‘I had a promising start in music at age 19. My first band supported the Clash at Deeside Leisure Centre in 1980. That was a heady time! I’d only been playing guitar for 18 months, and there I was in front of 12,000 people. But then everything started going downhill.   The band split up as I started to experiment with drugs.

I continued to make music with a little local success but was unfocused and had my head in the clouds. I used to think that if I just made the music, I’d be discovered. I later realised that’s not how things work in life… in fact it was a lot later.

Then things got worse.

I was completely derailed at age 30. I suffered a full-blown psychosis and was sectioned to a mental hospital. I didn’t even realise I’d been ill until 12 months later; such was the extent of my delusion. My mind was a mess and I upset a lot of people close to me at the time. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Now on medication I carried on with my life the best I could but continued smoking the weed a bit. That always made my symptoms of hearing voices and having visual hallucinations even worse. And when you’re schizophrenic you tend to believe it’s all real.

I was nearly 40 when I stopped smoking and all recreational drugs. Ever since then I gradually began to recover and applied myself more and more to my music. I took evening classes to learn computer music production skills, music theory, and piano lessons too. I kept myself busy. About 15 years ago I reduced my medication (with my psychiatrist’s approval) and soon found myself a lovely girlfriend (we’re still happy together).

I deal with my condition by keeping myself active and productive, so I don’t have much chance to sit and go into my hallucinations. I continue to grow and learn as I go on and have a determination and resolve to devote my time to my music career. I immerse myself in improving all my skills and applying them as I grow.

My symptoms are still there but fade more and more into the background. Keeping myself engaged in my creative pursuits helps me cope with them all.

I write my own songs, record and produce my own albums, do artwork and keep myself going. I’m about to release a new album as an independent musician, and I’m learning and building as I go along and grow.

I keep myself fit and eat healthy food to keep me strong.  

At age 60, I feel life is just beginning. It’s never too late. And I’m doing the thing I love to do – music! It keeps those demons at bay. Maybe there’s a new song there somewhere...’

Clear Crystal View

British singer-songwriter Shem Sharples has joined forces with bass powerhouse Thor Brown to create his beautiful new single Clear Crystal View. The song is an indie-folk gem that portrays an uplifting and joyful outlook on the world, more important now than ever.

From the first line, “Sunlight sparkles in the champagne afternoon,” Shem sets set the scene to the song’s positive message. He unites smooth, swirling vocals with captivating lyrics to take us on a journey as we celebrate the end of a dark regime and welcome in a bright new adventure.

Clear Crystal View is the first single taken from Shem’s upcoming album ‘Strange Sounds from the Wreckage’ due to be released on September 25th. The whole album showcases Shem’s talent and love for using masterful lyrics to create a narrative of his surroundings and a true view of the world, Clear Crystal View is no exception.

The album unites the talent of Shem and lifetime friend Thor Brown to create a masterpiece. The pair have been playing together since 2014 and have built up a tight act which allows them to perform live as a duo and share their unique sound with fans.

An uplifting lyrical adventure starts here…

For more information visit Shaun Sharples’ website and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.