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18-year-old, a Bundle of Inspiration: Interview with singer Stuart matthew

Stuart Matthew, 18 years old boy from Allahabad, India. An English singer/songwriter and multi-talented artist who just became the India’s 1st official artist on Spotify & Shazam, we got him to talk about his new album based on his personal life and many more.

-What is the story behind you becoming a Singer?

Stuart Matthew :
 
I was 15 years old, (aspired to be a doctor and never even wondered of singing) and I had a choir teacher in my school who wanted me to be part of it, I wasn’t really ready to do that because I thought I will ruin the whole thing. I told my mum the other day and she was happy about it she told me I should give it a try. After that, I tried my best in rehearsals but didn’t knew how I was actually doing. Soon, my choir mates started telling me “you have a nice voice, you do great” and things like that.
That touched my heart and kinda motivated me to do more in music and that’s how I gain huge interest in Music. I started checking in YouTube and found ‘Jasmine Thompson’, she Inspired me like alot and she had a cover of Demons by Imagine Dragon which took my heart, I was like I also need to do this and then I recorded it and shared publicly on Internet, there were like 100+ downloads in 3-4 days, I was so happy and wanted to do more. Well, nobody in my family knew I was doing music, they came to know when I had to convince my dad to bring me a microphone. I still remember how my parents were freaking out.

-Who inspires you the most?

Stuart Matthew : My parents, I mean they’re the true source of inspiration I’ve learned a lot from them and I know it’s heavy to say but we have gone through a lot and I think we have complete different life than others but my parents always told me to not give up and to be strong enough to let go things which doesn’t really need attention.

-What is your biggest achievement yet?

Stuart Matthew : There are so many that I really feel is big, like when I became an MTV Artist, I was seeing about myself in the newspaper and then I was nominated for Best Pop Artist in Radio City Awards and now my video is gonna be on T.V and then this spotify thing. Well, I actually think it doesn’t matter to me if anything is big or small cause it just makes me happy when I see people are loving my music.

-What was your reaction when you came to know you’re the 1st Indie official artist from India?

Stuart Matthew : I was like what the hell is happening! I asked my manager to confirm it and he told me “no other independent singers residing India is verified yet but you are” and the next day BuzzFeed featured me in their article, I freaked out I never thought that’s gonna be me.

-How your album “My Story, lately” got the life?

Stuart Matthew : So, there was no EP planned I just had this song called Stay (from the album), I was about to plan a release date for the song but then my manager was like “You really have to release it in a big way so that it might tell people a story and build a strong effect on em’ which can inspire”. Then we planned the intro things and recorded few more songs to complete the whole set of this album and then we named it my story lately. It was just a bad phase.

-What inspired you to write Stay?

Stuart Matthew :  To be honest, we all meet people in our lives who only take us for granted they try to pretend they are caring but they aren’t actually. I’ve also gone through this and it was terrible, that was something that pushed me in Anxiety but after days I realized that I’m not just gonna sit back and talk things which doesn’t even mean anything to me anymore and I wanted to bring that message to people so then me and my best friend Peter, wrote this song together.

Listen “Stay”

-What do you expect from your fans to know about the album?

Stuart Matthew : I really want them know how beautiful they are inside and out and how strong they can be and to have the ability to let go all bad things which makes you unhappy because this is life, so obviously you’re gonna have bad or happy phase so you should not really panic but even learn from things.

-How do you manage your personal and professional life?

Stuart Matthew : It’s quite awkward to say but when I’m doing music I don’t like doing anything else but anyway I have to study as I’m in college which is gonna be over very soon. It’s not that tough to manage it.”

-What your friends think about your music?

Stuart Matthew :
Oh, they all makes my life even more better everyday, they’re not really into my music I think but I wouldn’t even like if they keep talking about my music every time. They all are just so funny and perfect so I don’t even care bout anything else when I’m with em. I feel free and more comfortable with them.

-You’re gonna be on T.V right? What do you think about that?

Stuart Matthew :  I think that’s great, I’m really excited to see my video on T.V. My daddy is actually like, more waiting for it to happen.

-Your life is different than any ordinary teenager, how does it feel?

Stuart Matthew : Yes, it is. Maybe because I always wanted to do different from what others do, I see people going out for abroad study, that kinda creeps me out sometimes. Well, I think music have changed me so much that I like to be this way it really makes me feel special. Now, I don’t even want to do something else.

-How does it feel like to be successful in this age?

Stuart Matthew : Well I don’t really feel to be called successful but I think that this is just the start and I really want to go so far, but anyway it feels really great to be different a little bit cause it makes me happy to see my parents telling people how proud they are of me.

 

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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