Whether it’s from music, sport or comedy, we’re all looking for something that will make us feel better durIng this weird time we’re living in. Tiña are giving us just that with their debut album, Positive Mental Health Music, which is out in November. Ahead of the release, we chatted with lead singer and songwriter Joshua Loftin about his mental health struggles, his men's talking group and the importance of organisations like CALM.
Tiña (pronounced Teenyahh), was formed by frontman Josh just over two years ago and, according to him, it's a bonus that his bandmates ‘happen to be musicians’ because he picked them based on who they are. As for the band’s sound, while there’s lots of elements of ‘post-punk grunge’ and ‘rock indie’, Josh wouldn’t give it a specific genre: “There’s more of a gentle embrace than in my last band. We’re not trying to think too much about where the sound fits, rather going with the feeling”.
Humour also features heavily in Tiña’s music, whether that be in the offbeat soundtracks or within their videos. When it comes to the playful element of their songs, they wanted each member to have a chance to show their personalities and have the room to be themselves.
And just like CALM, the band realises that even when you’re struggling and times are tough, humour can help - so they try and find the funny things in serious situations. “We’re a very caring, emotional, and playful bunch of men. And that’s quite important to me because, although some of the songs are tackling serious issues, issues that greatly impact people’s lives, they don’t always need to be serious. It’s silly but sincere. There’s one track on the album called ‘New Boi’ where i’m talking about feeling like a complete loser because I’ve stopped seeing this girl and found out she’s with someone else and the band are playing this ridiculous soundtrack in the background. It just sounds like they’re taking the piss out of me,”
And it was this sound and personality that drew Speedy Wunderground’s Dan Carey to the band. Dan was blown away after watching Tiña play in a basement venue and instantly wanted to do a single - which quickly turned into him wanting to create an album. In fact, this will be the first album the label will release.
The record's theme of mental health is very much inspired by Josh’s own experience with a breakdown he had a few years ago which he says completely wrecked his life.
“Overnight a trigger went off in my brain and I became someone who was suffering with intrusive thought OCD and I wasn’t able to experience the world - I just wasn’t myself. There was paranoia and anxiety and feeling insane and wanting to die. Like - if I thought breaking up with my girlfriend was bad and made me feel like I didn’t want to exist in that pain - this was some next level shit.”
But thankfully, while he’s still working through it, what this devastating experience did bring for Josh was a revelation of things within him that he wouldn’t have seen if he hadn’t have gone through such a painful experience.
“Apart from the tremendous suffering and depression and anxiety, it’s brought me to a fuller version of myself. It humbles you to have suffered so badly and be at the whim of your emotions. And I think that maybe it has also helped give me the ability to have less bullshit in my writing and be more vulnerable.”
The name of the album came after a conversation with a friend at one of Tiña’s gigs, who dubbed the set ‘positive mental health music’, and it stuck. This is just one example of Josh having friends who fully understand and support him, something he feels very lucky to have, and part of why he feels that talking to people when you’re going through something is so important: “Saying when I feel bad about something has brought me closer to a lot of people. I’m really lucky to have an extensive community of people who I can call on and I wasn’t able to before because there was part of me trying to make it on my own.”
Josh has also found solace in a men’s group he runs, where a community of friends and friends of friends are able to come together to talk about their struggles and mental health. He started the group when he and some friends were going through a difficult time and a mate inspired him to facilitate one: “After the first session, there was this feeling like something really special had just happened. Some of the loveliest moments are when we’re all talking and then someone cracks a joke and it just feels like humour is meant to be part of that exchange. I think that’s where you can draw parallels to some of my songs.”
“And I think there is something powerful, specifically for men, in getting together and being allowed the space to talk about what's really going on. And sometimes maybe they don't even know themselves until they get given a space to do that.”
When it comes to what he does when he’s feeling a bit shit, Josh also gets a kick out of being physical. For him, skateboarding is a great form of escape and he believes getting out in nature and having a sport is really important for people who suffer from mental health issues, particularly if they involve community: “Get out of bed, get out of your head and leave your house. Being physical with your body, getting some exercise, and doing an activity that involves a community”.
Like CALM, Josh understands that not everyone is able to talk to their loved ones, that sometimes, it can just be too difficult. And that’s why he believes helplines like the one CALM provide are so great: “Helplines are so desperately needed because we don’t have a society that allows us to talk about mental health. People need to talk - you might feel like you’re this isolated weirdo who just can’t hack it and everybody else can and that you’re a loser or whatever and that’s just the brain lying to you.”
“If you can't speak to friends and family, you need to speak to someone so that they can give you some kind of reassurance and a bit of clarity. Helplines and organisations like CALM are priceless. They can quite literally save lives”
Tiña’s debut album is out on 6th November.
Need support? Worried about someone?
CALM’s helpline and webchat are open daily 5pm-midnight. Get access here.
Have you been affected by suicide? The Support After Suicide Partnership is a hub for anyone bereaved or affected by suicide, where you can find emotional and practical support.