‘Flashback’ – Weiland’s rap song becomes a Spotify hit

A student who started losing his sight due to an optic nerve glioma (a slow-growing brain tumour) has released a rap song called ‘Flashback’ that has become a Spotify success.

VisAbility client Weiland who is nearly 15-years-old, wrote and recorded the song in collaboration with accomplished musician and Yanchep Secondary College English teacher, Daniel Castledine.

The song centres on Weiland’s own life experiences. Weiland developed a brain tumour, known as an optic nerve glioma (link opens in a new window) when he was just fifteen months old. The tumour starts at the optic nerve and connects to the brain.

Weiland stands against a brick wall with his English teacher Daniel Castledine
Weiland wrote the song in collaboration with a teacher at his school

Weiland lives with vision impairment – he is blind in one eye and has tunnel vision in the other. He has regular scans to monitor the tumour.

“I came up with the lyrics before my last scan at a time when I was feeling stressed. I wrote the words down, and three days later, I showed them to a teacher at my school – Mr Castledine,” explains Weiland.

‘Flashback’ – reflections on his childhood

The song references hospital visits and Weiland’s concerns about his health. It’s his voice that starts and ends the track with the words: “I don’t wanna spend my life in the dark.”

Weiland and Daniel castledibne sit around a computer screen with a microphone in front of them
The song was recorded at Yanchep Secondary School

VisAbility Youth Support Officer Ryan Honschooten was one of the first to listen to the song.

“It’s pretty powerful stuff, with lyrics that are quite confronting. I became blind at a young age as well, so I can relate to this song. It’s about unpacking emotions and dealing with everything that comes with vision loss.”

Weiland enlisted the help of his teacher who is also a keen musician to make his song become a reality.

“I write and release my songs on Spotify. Originally I tried to do Flashback on the acoustic guitar in my usual style, but it became obvious that the lyrics were better suited to a rap song, so we used a combination of rapping, hip hop, and singing with Weiland on backing vocals,” says Daniel.

Spotify and Amazon hit 

Daniel says Weiland threw himself into the project, which was recorded in the school music suite. Both say it was a rewarding experience.

“It was a pretty quick turnaround from idea to reality. I’ve had some great feedback from fellow students and Spotify listeners. It’s been pretty humbling,” Weiland says.

“I’d like to think he continues to write down his thoughts as a form of artistic expression and collaborates with other artists looking for a lyricist,” adds Daniel.

You can download the song on Spotify or Amazon or listen to it here on YouTube.

Weiland has yearly low vision assessments with our Orthoptics team and is receiving orientation and mobility support. He is currently seeing an occupational therapist who is helping him to use his iPhone and to embrace assistive technology.

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