The Worthing busker who turned a mental breakdown into life-affirming music

Finn Jones
Finn Jones

A Worthing busker who battled back from a mental breakdown is looking to use his music to help others struggling with their mental health.

Finn Jones, 20, of Hertford Road, was working full-time as a busker in London’s Tooting when excessive drinking, substance abuse and exhaustion sent him into a psychological decline.

The musician, who performs under the name Ashtray, now donates all of the funds from his music to the charity MIND, and is planning to release a record to raise further proceeds.

“I don’t care about money at this stage of my life. As long as I’m making music and helping people, I’m happy,” he said.

“The whole idea is just saying it doesn’t matter, we are all going to die anyway so don’t care what other people have to say and just be yourself.”

Finn said he suffered a psychotic episode at the beginning of the year that started almost a week of mental disintegration.

He continued to write during the episode – his song Cornfield describes the visions and delusions he was experiencing.

Now he plans to release his single Desert Bus on June 5, with all proceeds going towards MIND.

His mental breakdown began, he said, with being recognised from his busking on the way back home from Tooting.

On arriving in Worthing he knocked on strangers’ doors to ‘say hello’, convinced they would know who he was.

He also became paranoid and convinced people were talking about him in foreign languages, he said.

Shortly after, he gatecrashed a pub quiz attended by neighbours, family friends and former teachers, berating them and eventually plugging in his busking amplifier and bursting into song in the middle of the quiz, he said.

The next day was the final straw for Finn, as he turned up at his former college believing he was being chased by a helicopter and claiming to be meeting Ed Sheeran and Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke to produce an anti-Brexit song.

His mum, who worked at the college, took him home and Finn decided he needed to seek professional help.

His battle with alcohol and substance abuse is now firmly under control, he said, and his mind is set on raising money and awareness for MIND, through his music.

Read more about Finn's music through his website here: www.ashtraymusic.co.uk

And an interview with the Herald here: https://youtu.be/JNQLQ6krvbY