String Theory’s Matt O’Donnell and Steve Paix are combining work and passion to make a big impact on the world stage in two diverse and what would appear at first glance, unrelated areas: suicide prevention and the international music scene.
Musicians and digital media producers Matt O’Donnell and Steve Paix are creating pop music and suicide prevention interventions that are making an impact on the world stage.
As the minds behind String Theory Creative, their work specialises in health promotion campaigns for Australia’s peak health bodies and not-for-profits including beyondblue – the National Initiative to Raise Awareness of Anxiety and Depression and headspace – the National Youth Mental Health Foundation.
In particular, they have recently produced world-leading online interventions for a suicide prevention research project with Australia’s leading researchers from Orygen, Australia’s National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health.
The intervention is a unique cognitive behavioural therapy program that is delivered online. It was created with the involvement of young people with a lived experience of mental illness, depression and suicidal thoughts and offers young people a chance to reflect on various real life scenarios via personal ‘blogs’ while considering new ways to approach stress and life challenges.
For another project, String Theory Creative was commissioned by beyondblue to develop a series of educational videos with a practical focus. Have the Conversation features friends and family members of people with mental illness telling their stories and offering tips and advice about how to get talking about mental health.
In tandem with their digital media work at String Theory, Matt and Steve write and produce lush, layered pop music under the moniker Tarmac Adam. They are joined by Crowded House bassist Nick Seymour and drummer Josh Barber, living the rock ‘n roll dream and garnering international recognition and praise for their music. Their third album, In Place, was produced between Melbourne, Dublin and Nashville and was released on 2 October this year.
O’Donnell and Paix, strongly believe that by combining their business and their passion, all aspects of life consequently benefit.
“When we started working with Nick and Paul [Hester] on the first Tarmac record it took our writing and production values to a whole new level. Once you work at that level, you want to bring that kind of quality to all work you do…as such our approach to our digital media work has been and continues to be influenced by people such as Nick …their creative process, their work ethic…”
In keeping with a therapy theme, their latest video “Begin to Mend” shows lead singer/songwriter Matt O’Donnell picking up his own pieces, as he plays patient, therapist and the whole cast of characters orchestrating the thoughts in his head.
“In some ways, the mending process is something that is always happening – it is never complete”, O’Donnell shares. “I suppose we’re all constantly under repair. The mending makes it possible to move forward, to go on; not broken, not defeated, not perfect. Human.”
Tarmac Adam’s international fan base have embraced the release of In Place, an album with impact that goes beyond the usual, by influencing the standard of suicide prevention messaging and, as many of the songs of the album urge us to do: get connected, reach out, make a difference.