We Love Life – Beija Flo

7 months ago   |   Words: Georgia Woollett   |   Photography: Darina Mohammed

We chatted to Beija Flo for our ‘We Love Life’ exhibition which continues through mental health awareness week at Constellations in Liverpool.

What are your plans for today?

I’m going to go and get some pizza and go to the Clockwork Orange social thing.

What are you working at the moment in addition to being in the band?

I am yes. I’m a life model, which means I get paid to stand naked for artists to draw me and paint me. It’s a lot fun. And I meet loads of people.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Well today has been really sunny so I’ve been listening to the Shrek soundtrack, because that’s a necessity, but I’m still in love with Brock Hampton, I’m still riding that wave and all my new friends of this year like Jo Mary and the Wild Fruit Art Collective, all the good ones.

And what are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading The Undeparted by Timothy Watkinson, which is a really really new book. It’s really really good, I know the author and it’s really cool. It’s about a guy who has OCD and it’s really really interesting.

That sounds really interesting. So what have you taken from that?

Well I really like words in general anyway. It’s quite, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone as it’s really good, but it’s quite dark. Well my mum thinks it’s dark; she really likes it as well. And again its really really cool, really interesting choice of words, and the characters quite peculiar. You feel sort of sorry for him at times and then sometimes you’re a bit like ‘hm I’m not sure?, that’s interesting’. It’s good it’s very true.

Are you watching anything at the moment?

Bake off! Bake off. Bake off. Thank you Netflix. And RuPaul as always. And loads of Jacques Tati films. He was French and he was a rugby player, he retired and famously went bankrupt for building a replica of Paris. He has this character called Mr Hulot, he’s a bit, he’s like the French Mr Bean. He’s a lot cooler and he really likes noises and has loads of nice films. And he has this film called Mr Hulot’s holiday, which is my favourite and it’s just brilliant. Yeah, there’s some really really good films.

And what would constitute a perfect day for you?

A perfect day? A lie in, because I never get to sleep really. And, I don’t know, because I really like all the weather. I really like it when it rains, I get really happy because I can know that the plants and stuff are getting fed which is really nice. Also its really really nice when it’s sunny. But I quite like really really cold sunny days on the beach. There we go, nailed it.

Cold, sunny days on the beach?

Yeah, you know when it’s like freezing and your all wrapped up and your so determined to have a picnic and you’ve got all these big rocks holding the blanket down and your just a little bit miserable, but it’s also brilliant, and just sand covering everything. It’s good.

And for what in life do you feel most grateful for?

Lots really. I love a good moan but also I know I’m just sort of grateful that I have a bed to sleep in and food to eat everyday. Not everyone has that. I think that’s pretty cool. I mean my mum as well. My parents, they’re good ones.

What does good mental health mean for you?

Not drinking and smoking too much. I struggle with my mental health a lot, which is no secret. But, I suppose, I don’t know.

What makes you feel good mentally?

Performing and singing and shouting at people. Telling people, I really feel like I have to tell everyone exactly what I’m thinking all the time. So I sort of just blab and blab and blab. I’m a big talker. Unless I’ve told someone about this, done a painting, written a song about it, then it’s not out of my system, so I’m sort of all or nothing.

Is that your main coping mechanism of how you stay mentally well? To be creative and expressive?

Yeah. But I also do things like smoke and drink too much as well, which is really not good. I have really really bad days. But, I try and not do that all the time.

So you try and have balance in your life?

Yeah. I think it’s important.

Is there anything else you do? Try and implement to try and stay mentally well to help your mental health?

I talk to my tarot cards a lot. I like tarot card readings, they give me hope. They help me sort of figure things out as well, not just hope. Sometimes you get bad bad ones and your like oh okay. Yeah things like that. Counseling. I think counseling is mega underrated. I think having someone you can go and talk to that is separate from the situation. I think there’s like lots of things. Being creative. I feel sorry for people who aren’t creative, or even the people who don’t think they’re creative and you’re like ‘everyone can do it, everyone should express in some way’.

And is there anyone who inspires you?

Yeah, loads of people. Like all the people that I surround myself with. I wouldn’t be around people that are annoying and stuff like that. I find that in everyday situations and yeah, just sort of little things. Like hearing about amazing things someone has done and how selfless some people can be. I can’t really think of anything in particular. Even just things like when you see teenagers helping an old person in Aldi pack up their bags. That’s what gets me. Gives me hope.

The real life stuff.

Yeah. Like the other day I stupidly bought a ticket to go see ‘Goat Girl’ of the Internet and through some stranger quite naively and obviously it was a hoax and it was nothing. And then I asked this stranger who had been talking to the same guy that fucked me over, and he was like oh I didn’t end up doing it because his location kept changing and I will message him and ask him if he’s still selling the tickets and just mugging you off essentially. And he was and this lovely guy was like I’m really really sorry. And then two minutes later he was like I’ve messaged the band and they’ve put you on the guest list. And I was like that’s so nice. Because he could have gone as well and been like can I come as well because I’ve been a nice person, but it was just a totally selfless act. Lost my faith in humanity and then it came back an hour later.

Idles – Going Through The Emotions

4 weeks ago   |   Words: Mark Taylor

At sold-out venues across the world, an ever-increasing fan base is singing along to IDLES’ songs of torment, frustration and personal disaster. The bands sonic aggression, along with singer Joe Talbot’s lyrical candidness is an appeal to many who harbour frustrations of their own.

IDLES are mastering the art of turning the bad into good by creating powerful music with messages of defiance and positivity. Whilst commercial success has arrived, Joe tells The Mind Map that real success is understanding your own mental health needs, building community, and creating music on your own terms.

What are you working on at the moment?

We’ve not long come back from touring the US and Canada. We’re playing sold out shows around the UK now. The tour is good. I’m struggling with sleeping patterns if I’m honest. I can’t get to sleep at night on the coach. I’m normally getting up at 8 in the morning full of beans. Apart from that the gigs are amazing – the best gigs we’ve ever had. Album 3 is happening. We’re writing it now. Next year we’re going to Australia and New Zealand to play shows.

You got to number 5 in the UK Charts with your new album. Does it matter to you?

It matters that we got number 5, absolutely. The whole point of our narrative is to change the populous and its narrative. The problem at the moment is there’s a stranglehold on popularity, commercialism and artistic license. An example is Kings Of Leon. They made two great albums. At the time, they sounded great, they looked great. They did everything you wanted as a young person listening to bands. Then they began writing for bigger audiences and they sacrificed their artistic license for money. That’s awful. What I want to do is be able to headline the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury – but not have a single song in our catalogue that I’m ashamed of. I want to change people’s minds instead of changing my mind. We want to keep writing songs we love that are within our artistic language without sacrificing any of that. We want to make people like good music again.

The aptly named Joy As An Act Of Resistance seems to tackle the stigma around mental illness head on. Was it intended? Do you feel obligated to give people a feeling of positivity about themselves?

The reason I attack those things is because they’re concerns of mine in life. Be transparent on stage – be believable. Play and sing about the things you believe in and that you’re concerned with. The album was written in a period of life where I needed change. I needed to approach my mental health and my cyclical behaviour. I wanted to tackle ideas of masculinity because I was reading a book by Grayson Perry on toxic masculinity. These were things I was talking about in my life so I’m gonna write about them because that’s what’s important to me. The time we’re in at the moment, people feel so much more isolated than ever before because of the internet, because of social media. I’m not interested in singing about stuff I’m not interested in.

What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?

Without any shadow of a doubt, losing my daughter. I think giving advice on grief is a double edged sword. Sometimes there’s no right answer. The thing with grief that you should always remember is to never feel like you’re a burden. Sharing you’re feelings and your emotions. You’re supposed to be sad, so feel sad. Don’t apologise to yourself or anyone else for feeling sad, or down, or angry. Go through those feelings, be in those feelings and live through the sadness of grief. Don’t fight it, you’re supposed to be sad. What you do is you embrace sadness and you talk about why you’re sad. You keep doing it until you feel less sad, then you keep doing it until you feel ok, then you keep doing it until you feel better. But, you know – you’ll never, ever be the same after losing a child or a parent. Everything changes after those moments. You can’t fight it. You’ve just got to embrace those feelings. Embrace anger, embrace sadness, embrace loss. You’ve got to talk and accept that things are going to be that way for a while.

There’s some specific personas and characteristics you call out in the lyrics of Joy As An Act Of Resistance. Is there a face of the darkest parts of society you are fighting against?

Ant & Dec. Saturday night TV. People clustered around watching C-List celebrities jump through hoops for loads of money, whilst they’re at home eating out of food banks. There’s millions of faces of it. The whole point is that we’re now in a place that is driven by money. Perfect aesthetics. Performance driven economics and performance driven ideologies that makes people feel like they’re not good enough. So they get drunk on the weekend and then they work more hours then they they should, for not much money. For people that get way too much money. And they’re not investing back into the community or into the country. So there’s a constant cycle of isolation. Not one of those people in that cycle feel like they’re connected to the next. And isolation will make you feel like sh*t – and then you die.

There’s an open letter to your Mum on the inside of your first album Brutalism. Do you hold resentment towards alcohol or alcoholism?

I’m not angry at alcoholism. I’m at angry at my Mum, and the people around her for not helping her out – the adults around her when I was a kid. My step-father was good. I never got to the bottom of her alcoholism because she lost her speech before I could be adult enough to sit her down and ask her ‘Why do you feel the need to drink yourself into a stupor everyday?’ I’m sure it’s down to insecurities, isolation, two divorces, lots of things. But I can’t answer for her because she’s dead now, because of kidney disease. I resent the fact that she didn’t feel safe enough to talk about her problems. If she was in therapy and she had good friends around her, a good support network, and an awareness of what it was doing to her – she would’ve been able to stop drinking.

I don’t have any resentment towards alcoholism, I hold resentment towards my Mum’s situation. I don’t have any resentment towards my situation and my alcoholism because I’m on top of it. I’ve got a great network of friends who individually sat me down and told me I’ve got a problem. I’ve got a father who’s allowed me to make mistakes and who’s always told me he’ll be there for me no matter what. This allowed me to make my own decision to stop drinking. In the kitchen, on my own. No conversation was had. It was a Monday – and it was the first Monday I hadn’t been hungover in a long time. I felt good and I hadn’t messed anything up. There was nothing wrong with my life at that very moment. I wanted to sustain that idea of equilibrium where nothing’s wrong. I can’t control everything in the world but I can control my drinking. I remembered all the good conversations with the people who told me I needed to stop. So I stopped drinking and I stopped doing drugs. It’s not easy. I’m 34, I had been in that cycle for a long time. I worry about having conversations about alcoholism because I don’t want make it sound like ‘Yeah, just stop’. If it was that easy there wouldn’t be any issue, we wouldn’t be having this conversation in the first place.

The Mind Map – please note that alcohol withdrawal can cause seizures. If you are affected by addiction and are looking for sources of support and advice please see Mind’s addiction and dependency support service here. 

What do you eat to stay healthy?

On tour you get a rider. We’re a bigger band now so we can be specific with our rider. We have raw green spinach and kale, broccoli, blueberries, peanut butter, bananas. We make a smoothie out of all the green stuff with ice cubes and mushroom powder. I’ve been fasting in the mornings and day time and for mental health because it really makes me feel better. When you get in the cycle of it, fasting is incredible for your mental health and your physical health. Me and Bowen (IDLES guitarist) talk a lot about diet as a way of treating yourself better and looking after yourself.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

My partner, my friends, the AF GANG community. It’s on Facebook, there’s 10,000 members and they built it up around our music as fan club type thing. Our music is a catalyst, I wouldn’t go further than that. After a while that subsided and it turned into a community of people supporting each other. Their motif is ‘All is love’. People go there with their problems and they go their with stories. One dude was agoraphobic, he wouldn’t leave his house. He made friends through the group and they encouraged him to come to a show. When they met him, they realised he needed help and they got him a job. Stuff like that happens all the time. One person tried to commit suicide and put a call for help up on the group page. Two people figured out where they lived and called an ambulance. It’s the best thing on the internet. The people that built it should be proud of themselves because it’s amazing.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

I’d wake up next to my fiancé. We’d have sex, I’d make us breakfast and we’d go for a walk through Westonbirt Arboretum. Then I’d have beans and toast with cheese on it. Then I’d meet up with he boys, we’d have a pint of Guinness in Dublin, then we’d play a show and my fiancé would be watching.

Your lyrics are complex. Moving seamlessly from hilarious to bizarre, to angry. Is there an intent to be funny in songs that discuss serious topics around mental health and politics?

Yes it’s meant to be funny. I don’t go around crying all the time. Everything’s funny if you look at it in one way. Like – I’m not laughing at the poor. I’m not going ‘haha – that’s funny’. I’m laughing in a sense that it’s ludicrous. The cycle that we’re in is a wheel of absolute archaic rubbish that needs to break. We’ve got more money in our country than we need, yet when I was working in care homes, you had to not quite ration their food, but you needed to be careful. There’s just not enough facilities for the care system or for working class families. When you see pockets of it – it is funny, yet most of it is a tragedy. I’ve written about the worst times in my life, but there’s hilarious parts to it that would have only happened if I’d have been an utter toe-rag. Tragedies and comedies are one line away from each other.

What music lifts your spirits?

Otis Reading

The Walkmen

The album Astral Weeks by Van Morrison always cheers me up.

What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed

If you feel like you’re unhappy then you’re going through cycles of behaviour. The worst thing you can do is accelerate those things with alcohol and drugs. You need to talk, you need to open up and you need to make yourself vulnerable to the people around you to learn about yourself and be able to progress forward. If you don’t have anyone you can trust around you, or you don’t feel you can talk to about your innermost problems, seek counselling. There are lots of charities all around the country that offer free counselling via different networks. I think it’s the best thing anyone can do. People aren’t talking enough and isolation is the thing that leads people to the worst behaviours. So I think the sooner people talk, the sooner people feel connected and the sooner people heal.

Idles are currently on tour – keep up to date with them here.

White Lies – Going Through The Emotions

1 month ago   |   Words: Natalie Lorimer

White Lies are on the cusp of a new chapter in their history. The trio has found a new home with a new record label and will mark the tenth anniversary of their inception with their forthcoming album, ‘Five.’ With their sound evolving into something bolder and more complex than previous efforts, the band has found themselves pushed to new creative heights. Their latest single, ‘Believe It,’ embodies this shift in direction; a four-minute, synth-powered singalong that explores the process of therapy from multiple angles.

We spoke to White Lies bassist and lyricist Charles Cave about the mindfulness of weightlifting, his advice for helping friends out of a dark place, and an epic table tennis match with Kings of Leon frontman Caleb Followill.

What are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment?

I’m reading ‘Hombre’ by Elmore Leonard, I’m also re-reading Salinger’s ‘For Esme….’ collection of stories for a fiction-writing course I’ve been part of for a few years, and then I’m also dipping in an out of a non-fiction book about the fall of Rome by Bryan Ward-Perkins. And finally I have a book called The Daily Stoic by my bed, for a little daily dose of helpful and practical philosophy.

I tend to seek comfort in things I know and love: ‘Scritti Politti, Pantera, ‘Hats’ by the Blue Nile….’The Far East Suite’ by Ellington. These are all records that just sit permanently by my hi-fi, poised for action. But slowly I’m educating myself with classical music I missed out on growing up.

I don’t watch much TV. My girlfriend somehow manages to watch everything, so I wait for her to tell me something is really worth watching before I do. The last amazing thing I remember watching on TV was the War and Peace dramatisation with Paul Dano. Also, the Quincy Jones documentary on Netflix is fantastic!

What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?

I think if we keep being open, stay in a constant state of studentship, and always try to view everything from different perspectives, then we can overcome anything. Easier said than done, of course, most of the time.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

Brunch, a long Autumn walk somewhere beautiful, an evening in one of my favourite pubs with friends, food, perhaps some really great live jazz, and some beautiful dogs.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

I’m completely aware of my privilege and the opportunities I’ve been able to act on because of it. I think most of all I feel so grateful for my home, and for the close friends I have around me, and for the resources with which to express myself in all the failed and successful ways I have so far, and continue to do.

Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”

The ability to react in an emotionally useful way to the multitude of experiences life puts before us.

What do you eat to stay healthy?

I compensate for my sweet tooth with exercise. I try to base my core diet around boiled eggs, fresh vegetables, lean meat and fish, and plenty of water. You really can’t drink enough water. I’m also becoming a fan of intermittent fasting. It makes me feel good.

Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along? 

I try to go to the gym three times a week, where I mostly lift heavy weights and do very short sprints. I really love lifting weights for the focus it requires. I’m loathed to throw the ‘mindful’ word around too much, but I’ve found lifting weights more than cardio exercises really keeps my mind focussed in the absolute present. You can’t start daydreaming, or worrying about what’s going on in your personal life, because you will drop a heavy steel bar on your chest or back! On the days I don’t go to the gym, I really do try to walk a good six miles a day.

Here at The Mind Map we remember playing football and ‘tag’ – running around the playground everyday and loving it – can you share a similar memory?

I spent most of my primary and secondary school years trying as best as I could to avoid any physical exertion. To say I wasn’t ‘sporty’ is a massive understatement. In secondary school, after the age of 15, you got to chose your own sport option on a Wednesday afternoon. I spent five years trying to find ‘the easiest sport’. Unfortunately, I made some term-long mistakes. Turns out fencing is really hard, and sweaty, and the outfit stinks. Also turns out the table tennis at a fiercely competitive level is equally strenuous. I have to say though, that came in handy when – cut to ten years later – I beat Caleb Followill at a heated game of table tennis in an arena dressing room somewhere in the midwest. Big crowd watching – [Caleb’s wife] Lily Aldridge included…

What three songs lift your spirits?

Paul Simon – Mother and Child Reunion

Yellow Magic Orchestra – Sportsmen
Scritti Politti – Perfect Way

What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?

Chose a sport or exercise that demands your full focus, attention, and strength. Also, for a bit of very very specific advice –  search for ‘Michael Sealey’ on YouTube. You have to get over his oddly porno tone of voice, but his videos have worked absolute wonders for me. I really mean it. Give them a go.

I’d like to twist the question now, to add a last comment on something I feel quite strongly about. Instead of offering advice to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed, I’d like to offer advice to friends who want to help their friends who are overwhelmed.

There is a lot on the internet regarding mental health awareness about TALKING. About providing a safe space for those suffering to talk, and to feel comfortable talking and opening up about their experience and agony. This is of course very important, and beneficial. Someone caught in a depressive state with nobody to talk to is a lot worse off than someone with a friendly ear to chew. HOWEVER – I really think too much emphasis has been put onto this, and we need to shift awareness to the practical things we can all do to help those in need. I’ll be honest with you, if you’re friend is having an AWFUL time, your text saying “I’m here to talk whenever you want” is probably not enough. Think of talking as mild painkiller. We need ways to actually help this person recover quickly from what they’re afflicted with.

So here is my, possibly controversial advice: Lie. Make up a big fat lie that gets this person you are worried about to come and be with you doing something slightly strenuous, something that requires focus, and something that requires a degree of sociability. Have you been meaning to re-paint a wall in your bedroom for a while? Perfect. Call, text, or go an physically collect your friend that you’re worried about from their home and say: “I need a massive favour, mate. I’m really sorry. I started painting my bedroom wall and I’ve just bitten off more than I can chew. Can I borrow you for a few hours? I’ll owe you a MASSIVE FAVOUR. And I’ll buy you brunch to make up for it.” That’s just one example. Borrow a dog, and call your mate and say “You’re good with dogs aren’t you? OK so I said I’d look after Rex but I literally don’t know what I’m doing and I’m scared its going to run away when I have to walk it….”

White Lies will embark on a European and UK tour in 2019. Dates and ticket details available here.

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Tyson Fury details his battle with depression

2 months ago   |   Words: Wes Pilgrimage

“The worst thing someone suffering with their mental health can do is get into drugs and alcohol” said heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury in his candid interview with podcast host Joe Rogan this week.

Talking to Rogan ahead of his upcoming WBC title fight with Deontay Wilder on December 1, the 6ft 8 Mancunian opened up about his battle with depression and 2016 suicide attempt.

“I was waking up and I did not want to be alive,” Fury said. “Nobody could talk any sense into me at all and I felt very low.

“I had just bought a brand new car – a Ferrari convertible in summer 2016 – and I was on the motorway. At the bottom of about a five-mile stretch, there is a massive bridge and I got the car up to 190mph and did not care about anyone.

“I didn’t care about nothing, I just wanted to die.”

But Fury revealed how the thought of leaving behind his wife and children made him pull over.

With the help of a psychiatrist, Fury is back where he belongs, living a healthy life and fulfilling his ambitions.

Ending the interview in fighting spirits. Fury warned his upcoming opponent: “You’ve fought the Europeans and you’ve fought the Americans, but you’ve ain’t never fought the Gypsy King before!”

Fury’s response to his depression is a common one. The NHS state: “When life is getting them down, some people try to cope by drinking too much alcohol or taking drugs. This can result in a spiral of depression.

Cannabis can help you relax, but there’s evidence that it can also bring on depression, particularly in teenagers.

“Drowning your sorrows” with a drink is also not recommended. Alcohol is categorised as a “strong depressant”, which actually makes depression worse.”

To get help with depression or suicidal thoughts call Samaritans on 116 123 24 hours, 7 days a week or visit www.samaritans.org

There are also many services available in our ‘find help‘ section on our homepage.

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