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Don Denaburg, Musician

Don Denaburg, Musician

Don is a Toronto-based songwriter and music teacher. He spoke with mindyourmind about his new song “Beyond Blue”, which explores themes of mental health and illness. Here’s what Don had to say:

What inspired you to create the song “Beyond Blue”?

I wrote, “Beyond Blue” to relieve some of the frustration and sadness of living with mental illness. Immobilized by perfectionism and insecurity, at 38 I found myself alone with ambitions of a music career that was going nowhere. Battling anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) felt like trudging through deep mud. Getting those emotions out of me and into a song was a way out of the mud - a way to move forward and rise above it.

This song has many inspiring messages throughout. Which key messages do you want listeners to take away from it?

The two main messages I’d like people to take from “Beyond Blue” are: (1) As hard and painful as life can be at times, you are not alone. We all have people in our lives who love and believe in us, and that is something worth living for. And (2) “Falling is better than nothing at all.” Do your best to ignore the voices of depression and anxiety in your head that say, “I can’t” … “I’m not good enough” … “It’s hopeless” … “I’m a failure,” etc. Take risks. Put yourself out there. Try. When you fall, get up.

You are open about living with depression and anxiety. How have your experiences with mental illness impacted your music?

First and foremost, the curse of perfectionism (OCPD) slows my process to a snail's pace. In the bigger picture, people generally write what they know. My struggles with mental illness have strongly impacted my life and these experiences are reflected in my songs.

As a songwriter and music teacher, what role do you think music plays in mental health?

The great blessing of music is its power to touch people on an emotional level. Music can provide comfort, strength, hope, and inspiration to those who are struggling. It is reassuring and uplifting to hear that someone else has been through what you are going through. On a personal level, I find writing songs to be cathartic. Whether listening, singing, songwriting, or playing an instrument, music soothes the soul.

Writing and producing music seems like a tremendous feat. What is one piece of advice you would share with young people who are wanting to produce their own music?

It all starts with a good song. Be brave. Write songs that reflect the raw and honest truth of your experience. The more personal it is, the more universal it is. Everyone is struggling - fumbling their way through this crazy thing called “life.”

Thank you Don for this raw and inspiring interview!

Listen to “Beyond Blue” now on YouTube.

Photos by Andy Li, Tim Foster and Aaron Reid.