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Ben Hunter and Freddie Long share some Hope

Two of the UK’s most exciting rising stars - Ben Hunter and Freddie Long - have collaborated on a new single called 'Hope', in support of CALM. It's a banger, and it covers some very important themes. We caught up with the lads to hear more about the song and their collaboration.

Tell us the story behind this song...

Ben: Hope is a record which is close to my heart for a number of reasons - it was written about a close friend's long term battle with mental health issues. This ultimately resulted in him attempting to take his own life in 2017.

What struck me about this news was that I had never realised the pain he was experiencing - we are very close but still I hadn't managed to see the cracks. I feel guilty to this day for not realising and it has really bought home the importance of listening/being present for your loved ones - or anyone in need of help for that matter!

I have personally faced issues with depression and lack of self worth since I was a teenager, most recently when life was (on paper) the best it had ever been for me. I still attend regular therapy, began practising meditation and have drastically changed my diet - all things which have been extremely beneficial. The most significant change however is being open with my family/friends and more importantly myself about how I'm feeling. We are surrounded by Hope if we can take our heads out of our phones and pay attention to the people right in front of us.

Freddie: I hope to use the track to shine light on many of the issues young men in particular are facing. To encourage anyone who is nervous/ashamed/frightened of their mental health issues to be comfortable seeking help and to provide a positive image for people affected by mental health in any capacity.
"Music is a sanctuary for me, both creating and listening. I feel it's the one true place where you can be yourself, feel free and communicate on a deeper level"

Similar to Ben, I have also personally faced issues with my mental health. Although I wasn’t suicidal, I kept all my emotions bottled up inside and to my friends and family I didn’t want to show weakness. It came to halt after two years when a friend of mine took me aside and talked to me. From then on I’ve released how important it is for me to talk to people around me about my emotions and not be ashamed if I’m feeling down.

I was shocked to find out the statistics that 12 men a day within the UK die by suicide. It’s a scary fact but one we can’t ignore. Hope is a track that raises awareness of the issues around men’s mental health and shows people they’re not alone.

And the video…?

Ben: I reached out directly to director Simon Aukes, I had been following his journey for some time and I was a huge fan of his work in particular his ability to capture story lines. Simon became notorious last year with his Rapman series Shiro's Story - Rapman subsequently went on to be signed by Roc Nation and they're now turning the series into a feature film. I was keen to follow the lyrics and journey my friend had experienced but also allow the theme to be universal - Simon suggested I was present in some of the scenes narrating.

I really wanted to communicate how people can be going through such turmoil internally but still appear OK to their peers. The penultimate scene follows the character as he drives to the bridge - this is the most tense and hard-hitting part of the video. Although keen to not upset people, I felt it important to show the reality of the situation and hammer home the importance of this crisis we as a society should be focusing attention on addressing.

Freddie: I just wanted to thank Simon Aukes and his team doing an amazing job capturing the storyline. Also, Kwame Augustine for featuring in the video. It was a great project to work on, especially with a group of creative guys who all believed and shared experiences within the matter.

How did the collaboration come about?

Ben: Fred had been working with a producer (Jarjmusic) who I was also working with - The second I heard his voice I asked J if I could have his number and I reached out to him personally. I had no idea this would be the record we would make together, I just knew he had something special!
"Once we focus our energy on collaboration rather then competition, acceptance over judgement, and group strength over personal interest - we will begin to see change"

Freddie: Yeah, it was one of those moments that happened pretty quickly. I had also heard Ben’s work through Jarjmusic and was keen to link up. After we chatted, we hit the studio and started to write. It was apparent pretty quickly what direction we wanted to take the track in.

Does your music allow you to get things off your chest?

Ben: Music is a sanctuary for me, both creating and listening. I feel it's the one true place where you can be yourself, feel free and communicate on a deeper level. I pray I can use my passion to help other people express themselves, create and enjoy music across the world. Music knows no barriers and good vibes translate in any language!

Freddie: Yeah, definitely. I feel for me it’s a little different as not all my music is so direct about a certain topic. However, listening to music allows me to relax/escape certain situations. Having said that, I’ve got a few unreleased tracks which are very personal and certainly allowed me to get things off my chest.

What more can the music industry do to support the mental health and wellbeing of artists?

Ben: I think the issue runs far deeper than the industry and that we need a shift of epic proportions to begin to improve mental health across the board. Once we focus our energy on collaboration rather then competition, acceptance over judgement, and group strength over personal interest - we will begin to see change. It's great that artists are now more empowered than ever before and I have no doubt its the beginning of a great creative movement!

Freddie: Yeah, I agree with Ben. The issues around mental health are far wider than the music industry. I feel more conversation needs to be had surrounding the topic. I understand it’s a sensitive subject, but it’s one we can’t ignore when the statistics are this high. There are many campaigns/charities/individuals supporting the cause, which is great to see!

'Hope' will be released on the 24th April via Me & You Record label, the track can be downloaded and streamed on all digital partners.

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