Matt Toole’s passion for music oozes out in conversation.
So much so that you can understand why, when his world was shattered by a shock diagnosis, he quickly turned to the artistic form as a coping mechanism.
Matt, a 38-year-old music lecturer from Market Bosworth, was taken ill out of the blue in May last year after returning home from another busy day at Loughborough College.
“I got home from work and felt a bit strange,” he recalls. “I just thought ‘I need a bit of a sleep’ because I’m just tired. It was towards the end of the year so I just thought I was a bit worn out.
“I had a little kip and then my girlfriend (Sara) got home and she found me passed out and having seizures.
“So I had to be rushed into hospital and I was put in intensive care, in a coma to control the seizures.
“I had various tests and observations and I had to go and have a biopsy.
“That came back and I was told I had a grade four glioblastoma and where it is on the brain, it can’t be operated on.”
Matt was suddenly faced with completely new and terrifying territory and admits that initial period after being told left him crushed.
But, on returning home, he knew that he had to refocus and grasp every ounce of positivity.
“I did experience really bad panic attacks at one point” he remembers. “It caused a lot of anxiety.
“I’d had no symptoms or anything. I went through a period of depression as you can imagine.
“But, when I got home from hospital, I was just really happy to be alive because, in the critical care wards, survival rate is literally 50-50. I was quite lucky I managed to find a positive outlook. I just thought then, ‘what do I want to do?’
“Am I going to let this dominate my life or am I going to do something to fight against it? I’m a big believer that a positive attitude has a benefit on your physical health.”
Matt quickly decided that his love of music was to become central in his fight against the disease.
“Music has been a guiding light of my life,” he says. “Whenever I have had bad times, I have always turned to music and it’s always brought a positive outcome.
“It just has this power to heal and bring people together. To me, it’s unrivalled as an artistic form.”
As a result, he reached out to friends in the Bass Music world to help him raise awareness of the devastating disease.
Within months of being diagnosed, Matt created Fight or Flight Recordings – a music label dedicated to fighting cancer through music. And the response from friends and contacts in the music industry was overwhelming, so much so that the first album from the label, Survival is Instinct, is due to be released on July 31.
“I’d be toying with the idea of setting up a record deal at some point,” he tells me. “And so I decided there’s no time to waste.
“I got in contact with a load of friends who I have known over the years from all the things I have done in music and I asked if they had got any tracks.
“The response was fantastic and now we have produced this record.
“It covers a broad range of Bass Music styles, ranging from Jungle to Jump Up; Deep Dubstep to minimal and halftime Drum and Bass.
“I feel the music we are releasing is of a fantastic quality. I am really excited about the first release and further projects we have forthcoming.”
Proceeds from the sale of The Survival is Instinct album will aim to help generate income for and raise wider awareness of The Brain Tumour Charity.
Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40, yet less than two per cent of cancer research funding goes on brain tumours in the UK.
“I’m not someone with a massive bucket-list of things I want to do with the rest of my time. I just want to get back to having a normal life because I had a good one up to this point. I just want to do my thing and so if I can do things for the charity which are positive, it’ll be nice to have that motivation.
“Using music to help makes me happy. When I’m working on tracks, it’s like meditation to me. I can just switch off and don’t know what time it is or what day it is.
“You just really live in the moment.”
Anyone wishing to download the music can visit https://fightorflightrecordings.bandcamp.com/releases or to donate to The Brain Tumour Charity by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/fightorflightrecordings