We interviewed DJ Matt Howes
Matt Howes is an unofficial world record holder, charity ambassador and, amputee. In 2011, he was in Greece when his moped was hit by a car; he survived the accident but lost his right arm in surgery. Just two weeks after the accident, Matt was back behind the decks, despite having no practise. He puts his speedy recovery down to his love for music and performing.
DtL: What motivates you?
Matt: I am very lucky to be alive; if my accident taught me anything – it’s to appreciate life. Something I read recently, rung true, and it stayed with me: ‘If you are anxious you are living in the future and if you are depressed you are living in the past’. My advice to anyone who is feeling down, would be to always try the best you can to live in the moment – the here and now. Don’t worry about what tomorrow might bring, you have no control over that.
DtL: What has been your recipe for success?
Matt: I’m a big believer in positive thinking and the Law of Attraction – if you focus and harness your energy into thinking positively, things begin to change for the better. I noticed my own life start to completely transform when I began to think optimistically about things.
If you are struggling to rid yourself of negative thoughts, a good way to start is to write down everything you have to be thankful for, such as a roof over your head, health, food, water, good friends, family etc. It’s a simple and easy reminder that there are numerous things to appreciate, and things aren’t as bad as they might seem.
DtL: Ditch the Label research found that 63% of those with a physical disability are likely to experience extreme bullying and social exclusion. What advice would you give to those experiencing bullying or feel like they don’t fit in/doubt themselves because of attitudes towards a disability?
Matt: Remember that you are not alone. We are all in this together, and no matter how dark some days may seem, things do get better.
I was bullied throughout high school, and in reflection, I think it is important not to suffer in silence; speak to someone, tell them what you are going through – you need a support network during difficult times. People that bully are obviously projecting their own stress and trauma onto others. Everyone deals with their issues in different ways, and it is natural to want to vent your emotions, but inflicting the same pain and misery onto someone else doesn’t do anything to solve your own problems.
DtL: What is it like to have a disability in 2016? Have you faced any challenges/ prejudice?
Matt:I think we are heading into one of the most exciting times for disabled people, with opportunities opening up across the board. Important events like the Paralympics, are helping to raise awareness about all types of disability, and this has opened up a lot of avenues to people who would have perhaps otherwise, been ignored. In particular Rebekah Marine in the US & Alex Brooker in the UK are both friends of mine who inspire me on a daily basis.
Of course there are challenges – I can’t recall a time before my accident, when I was told I ‘shouldn’t’ or, ‘couldn’t’ do something, but since losing my arm I tend to hear this quite a lot. I have also received negative feedback, but I try my best to take this in my stride – criticism is an inevitable part of life as a performer, it’s what you do with the criticism that will make or break you. I choose to learn from it; every day I learn something new about music, performing or production. I believe with hard work, dedication and practise you can achieve anything you want to.
DtL: If you could go back in time, what one thing would you tell your younger self?
Matt: Don’t worry, the best is yet to come.
You can listen to Matt Howes’s mix for the Ditch the Label Mixtape here!