"Ever since I was a boy, I've said 'I'm gonna make it. Something is gonna happen.'
"Every time something bad happened in my life, something good happened the next day."
Shannon Hart-Cole, known as Hartcole, is a 26 year-old Indigenous, Mandurah-based musician, who has lived a tumultuous life where through adversity, life guides him towards clarity and reason.
It was in Hartcole's early high school years he started to battle with anxiety and depression, and a deep sense of needing to be heard.
That desire would often present itself as mischief.
"I had panic attacks, I would do things to get attention like run away from home, from school, being a troublemaker. I just needed to be heard."
"That's when my mate said 'You can't keep doing this, you have to express it another way.'"
From the age of 13, Hartcole began putting his internal chaos on paper.
While living with his grandparents, Hartcole's grandfather found some of his penned thoughts.
Shaken and unable to understand, his grandfather confiscated the page.
From then on, Hartcole would find deep healing within music and continue to make tracks launching a successful career in music.
"Music is a cure for the mentality I have towards the past."
"What's your favourite song you've created?" I asked the young musician during our interview.
"Everytime I make a song, it becomes my favourite. Then I make a new one. I try and out-do myself every time I get in the studio," he said.
'Dear Mum' is Hartcole's favourite song.
It's a gut-wrenching monologue dedicated to his mother, over a sweet and gentle guitar and strong beat.
When Hartcole was four years old, his mother was killed in a family violence incident.
"It's me talking to my mum, and asking her for advice. I definitely think she's still looking out for me."
Years later, after Hartcole had cemented his musical talents, his grandfather returned the confiscated draft paper to him.
He had the writing tattooed on his arm as a memory of where he started, and a dedication to his grandparents who took him in and cared for him.
At the age of 18, he was encouraged to enter a writing and public speaking competition organised by Aboriginal Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME).
Participants had to write and deliver a speech as if they were the first Indigenous Prime Minister of Australia. Hartcole took out third place, out of 700 kids, for his emotional speech.
"I cried, everyone cried. It moved so many people."
This experience led to his appointment as an AIME ambassador.
During his time he returned to the high school, from which he was previously expelled, to speak about his experiences.
In 2018 Hartcole was performing at Brisbane's Birak Festival when he was approached by AIME to tell his story, and collaborate on a book in partnership with WA Individualised Services, and the NDIS.
From then on, it was one step in front of the other for Hartcole.
Hartcole also connected with Triple J announcer Nooky - known for his role in mentoring Australian music star The Kid Laroi on his journey to global success - who played 'Dear Mum' on his show 'Blak Out', featuring music from Indigenous artists.
Earlier this year, Hartcole was forced to pull out of work due to a leg injury. Without work, he decided to make the best out of the situation, and devote his time and energy into working on an album.
Shortly after, one of the biggest companies in the Australian music industry, Mushroom Group, reached out to Hartcole, selecting him for their First Nations Pathway Program. He is the only artist from WA in the program.
The Pathway program offers masterclasses, mentoring from industry professionals, and the opportunity to record in studio.
The "opportunity of a lifetime" leaves Hartcole lost for words, having previously found his own success recording at home in his modest studio.
In another auspicious coincidence, Triple J's Nooky will also act as a program mentor.
"He actually wasn't going to be a mentor for Mushroom Group originally. And then they did an update," Hartcole said.
"I was like 'Is this really happening?' It just seemed too good to be true, I was talking to him previously, and he played me on the radio, now he's a mentor."
The young performer is now in preparation and collaboration with the other program participants, before he flies out to Melbourne this September, on an all expenses paid trip.
These kids suffer a lot of shame and fear. They get stuck in the same place. I think music can get you out of that. That's what I want to provide in the future.- Shannon Hart-Cole, known as Hartcole
"I'm engaging with the other participants, listening to their music, giving each other feedback, and trying to get that connection happening prior to going there," he said.
"Sometimes I get nervous meeting a whole bunch of new people, so I thought the best way to overcome this was just to get in touch with their stories.
"They're a great bunch of artists. We're all unique."
Hartcole aims to give other young indigenous people the opportunity to heal through music in the same way he did.
He said he dreamed of owning his own record label, supporting indigenous music on a local level and directing young people back onto a path of success and pride within their identities.
"I grew up with a lot of shame because of who I was, I got teased at school and dealt with racial discrimination by teachers. I think music was my way to speak out about it.
"These kids suffer a lot of shame and fear. They get stuck in the same place. I think music can get you out of that. That's what I want to provide in the future."
"There's so many indigenous kids out there who just get themselves in trouble. I was one of them. I would love to help put them on a different path and get them in express their feelings in a different way."
To find out more about Hartcole and hear his music, head to linktr.ee/hartcolemusic
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