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June 11, 2020
Culture

Stefan Rossi and the dark origins of ‘To the Light’

Italian Australian rapper Stefan Rossi’s latest single is a deep dive into the headspace of someone struggling with severe anxiety from a young age.

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  • Words: Angela Skujins
  • Pictures: Supplied

Stefan Rossi has always known he responds to situations differently.

He tells CityMag that as a young boy, he would often come home from school and obsessively watch the news.

“I remember seeing a child with meningococcal on TV and didn’t sleep for two weeks,” Stefan recalls.

“I can laugh a little bit about it but that kind of stuff traumatised me.”

Remarks

Stefan Rossi’s ‘To the Light’ is available to listen online.

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Stefan’s mental health issues, which he describes as always being worrying, reached crisis point three years ago when he found a growth on the back of his leg.

After going to the doctor’s office and being referred for an ultrasound, he came home and suffered a breakdown. He didn’t leave his room for days.

It turned out to be benign, but Stefan couldn’t shake the feeling that a medium health scare quickly became a calamity in his mind. This was when he knew he needed help.

“The way I reacted was something I did not want to ever feel again, so I knew I had to make a change,” Stefan says.

“That’s when I decided I had to really tap into what was going on and be aware of my emotions.”

Stefan says he suffers from ‘health anxiety’, which, according to not-for-profit organisation Beyond Blue, is being preoccupied with the fear of illness. Stefan knows he is not alone with his problem as he has a close relative who medicates for anxiety and another relative who lives with depression.

He’s also not alone nationally. Roughly five per cent of young Australians aged between 4-17 experience an anxiety disorder, Beyond Blue reports, while almost three per cent experience depressive symptoms.

After years of shrugging off what he thought was normal behaviour, Stefan started the process of getting his mental health issues diagnosed by a professional.

While he waits, Stefan will continue with his art practice, writing pop-infused hip hop songs about his mental health journey. He uses his music to spread the message that it’s ok to not be ok, and has been making music since he was 13 and in a garage band.

“I give people a fresh breath of air, and my music is vulnerable and myself,” he says.

“I want to be the guy that’s there for them.”

‘To the Light’ has uplifting horns and a driving, solid beat.

Compound these elements with bright lyrical messages – positive affirmations fit for incantations infront of the bathroom mirror – and you’ve got a soulful song.

Stefan’s drive to create comes from an uncomfortable place; anxiety can be a dark and lonely experience for some. But the musician hopes to always be there for anyone in need of light.


If this story raised issues for you, call LifeLine on 13 11 14. Beyond Blue and headspace are other national organisations that offer comprehensive mental health support.

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