A Perth musician has used his own experience with mental health issues as a catalyst to record his first album.

Ollie Wale will today (June 5) release ‘Grey Hairs and Black Dogs’, six years on from when he first tasted a degree of music stardom.

As part of the duo The Shrugs, Ollie recorded ‘Fair Maid’ – a song for St Johnstone ahead of the Perth side’s appearance in the 2014 Scottish Cup final.

While most of the reaction was overwhelmingly positive, a few detractors did rear their heads, something that affected Ollie.

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Ollie (28) was also in his final year studying for a degree in English and creative writing at Dundee University at the time, and it was round about then he realised he was struggling with his mental health.

But the issue really hit home over the next three years which he spent living with his parents in Perth.

“I started writing songs when I was in primary school but I didn’t start to record until I got to uni with my flatmate,” he says. “We started a duo called The Shrugs and did the St Johnstone song for the cup final.

“It was the first time I’d had any attention and it was really enjoyable for the most part, but there were aspects of it I found really overwhelming.

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“It actually put me off releasing music for a few years.

“Around that time I discovered I was struggling with mental health issues during my last year at uni.

Fans Jamie Harris and Ollie Wale, aka The Shrugs, have penned a cup final song for the Perth club
Ollie (right) recorded a popular song with Jamie Harris ahead of St Johnstone’s legendary Scottish Cup final in 2014

“After uni I stayed at my parents for three years in Perth. It became a vicious cycle every day.

“My depression was getting worse and worse so I decided to get therapy.

“I did that in my final year in Perth and it helped a lot.

“I had been in a place where I was not really myself or cared that much about my life.

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“It’s not like I actively wanted my life to be over, I just wasn’t caring about anything.”

Ollie decided a change in location would help and he moved down to London in 2017. It was a move that has paid off.

Ollie, who comes from a musical background, now works as a projectionist at the O2 Arena in the city and has found the confidence to get back in the studio to pursue his first love – music.

According to Ollie, the album is about his journey from those dark days to where he finds himself now.

“It was tough [to record] but it was quite cathartic,” he says. “People say ‘you’re brave’ but mental health is becoming much less of a stigma.

“I would not have felt able to do it if braver people than me hadn’t spoken out beforehand.

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“The album is also quite tongue in cheek as well, there’s humour there to an extent. That’s something you don’t often get.”

The former Kinnoull Primary and Strathallan pupil describes his music as having various influences such as pop, pop rock, folk and even rap.

Twenty per cent of the sales will go to the Samaritans, a group Ollie has great respect for.

He says his own main therapy was not medication or pills, but simply being able to talk.

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But he admits it remains to be seen how he will react to any criticism this time around.

“I think [the criticism of Fair Maid] was a reason I waited so long,” he says. “Even constructive criticism would get me down.

“I wanted to be ready if it happened again.

“I’m not going to say any negativity will just bounce off me but I am in a better place to not take offence.”

Grey Hairs and Black Dogs is now available to download from iTunes, Amazon and Band Camp. You can also stream it on Spotify.