Danny Goffey

11 months ago   |   Words: Sue Bennett

Supergrass hero Danny Goffey is about to release his second solo album Schtick! A sonic collage of modern hysteria that journeys through addictive tendencies, gang violence and neuroticism. Written from the perspective of a man who’s seen it all, Danny is joined by fellow British rock alumni; Suede’s Brett Anderson, Rialto’s Louis Eliot and Insecure Men’s Marley Mackey, who all make cameos on an album that darts between dark cynicism, youthful vitality and Goffey’s trademark humour. To celebrate Schtick! and it’s frenetic energy Danny is holding a mini-festival at his home in Somerset. We caught up with him to talk about the effects of mindless violence, finding your voice and his perfect day, for Going Through The Emotions…

Hey Danny, what are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just finished a second album called Schtick!, under my own name.  So I’ve been busy with that. I’ve also been in the studio with a producer called Simon Byrt which has been a really good laugh. The less people you have in the studio working on something the more relaxed it is –  I don’t know why that is, but you can really get into it with just two people – your minds can connect so you’re kind of both on the same plain and it seems to develop easier. He’s a good musician and I play different instruments so it all comes together well.

Your new single Buzzkiller and the video discusses violence and an unprovoked physical attack.  What triggered that as an inspiration for you?

The reason I chose that topic was my brother was pretty badly beaten up when I was around 15.  He was just walking down the wrong street in East Oxford which sounds really posh but you know every big town has its dodgy areas.  He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and took a bad beating by a group of guys and was hospitalised. The song was a bit of a memory of that. The awfulness of something like that can change your life completely. You know, I understand lots of violence goes on between gangs, but it’s that unprovoked slightly unnecessary violence that shouldn’t go on. There was a case as well up north where a girl and her boyfriend got attacked just for looking different – for being a goth – and she died and it’s just a total tragedy. They don’t even really know what they’re doing these guys.  Her name was Sophie Lancaster – I saw a programme on her and it just really got to me that something like that could happen to someone for no reason. So it’s quite a hectic topic but I tried to lighten it up with the lyrics ‘berks in their fitted white shirts’ – quite a lot of stuff I do is on dark topics but I try to lighten them up a bit.

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

It might have been after the band Supergrass split up. Since the age of 19 I had managers, a record company and a press person – all of these sorts of people that I didn’t appreciate fully I guess at the time; there were a lot of people looking after my best interests and then when the band split up it all just sort of dropped off completely.  I didn’t have great business skills – I am a creative person so I used to shy away from all that kind of stuff and let people deal with that. So I got into some real trouble with my tax and all sorts of bits and bobs. It took me a few years to get my head around how all of that was worked out. That was quite stressful because I had a family and it was very close to the whole thing falling apart really and I sort of clawed my way back into it.  But yeah it was just not really knowing the rules and what to do really. I just remember feeling extremely trapped and to the point were I was walking around in circles counting my steps, you know just quite weird behaviour – trying to find a way out of the way it was and maybe thinking there wasn’t a way out you know? But that was one of the challenges.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

My family, my kids. The will to write music. That hasn’t stopped yet so I’m grateful for that. My wife Pearl has been wicked over the years we’ve had quite a good laugh just generally through all of the highs and strange times. We live in quite a small area so we are all pretty tight really so we all just kind of look after each other.

How important has music been to your mental health?

It’s kind of my life I guess because it’s all I’ve really done. If I feel down I might do nothing for a day and feel a bit helpless or worthless and stuff.  But then I’ve got a little creative room that doubles up as Pearl’s dressmaking room and I’ve got a little computer in the corner with a piano so I’ve got this little demo area.  But if I spend a day making music I know I will feel better because something will come out of it that’s interesting and it makes you feel a bit more worthy really as you’ve created something. Which, I dunno – it’s quite spiritual isn’t it – if you’re creating something it’s a positive thing. So music really has been very instrumental in keeping my spirits up definitely.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

Well, I’ve just moved to this house in Somerset so I’ve been trying to do it up a bit. I’ve been trying to get into doing the gardening but I’m really really bad! I was trying to do a bit of that this morning. But I would say a few hours of writing some music in the morning. I always love to write some music from sort of 10 am onwards for a few hours before lunch and then later cook an interesting meal for my family. At the moment I’ve got six of us all living here and they sort of come and go – I think our house is too easy to come back to – it’s like a magnet that brings all of the kids back cos they know they’re going to get a nice dinner and stuff like that. I’ve got dogs as well so I like taking them for a walk. But a perfect day might easily be recording a song in the studio really – that would be a pretty good day cos it’s so fulfilling.

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

Self-confidence and finding your voice.

Who was your best friend at school? What was the funniest thing they did?

I guess when I was younger my best friend would have been Matt Birley and he was really easy to make laugh. He would just laugh at everything which was just really good fun – you could just sort of say ‘look there’s a tree’ and he’d crack up so yeah we’d always have a right old laugh anyway. I used to have this mini motorbike that we’d got from somewhere and we used to live near these woods. It was totally crazy but we all used to go up as kids into the woods and take turns riding this mini motorbike around –  we were probably about 9 or 10 years old. So we’d just go off for the day. Matt got on it and he was going down this steep slope and you had to turn before the river at the bottom but he froze and kept going and did this big jump and landed right in the middle of the river and we all laughed and said it was like Princess Anne doing the water jump.

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

When family, and friends or people I know are feeling depressed they tend to lose their voice so I’d really encourage talking and reading – even reading out loud. Because if you get into this hole and shut away the world I think things just get worse. So no matter how hard it is I think you’ve got to find something that you’re into that’s uplifting and read about it and to try and get your mind focussed on things like that. I’ve seen it where it’s been really hard for people to get their voices out, or their opinion and I think that doing that can really help to strengthen you and lift your spirits.  

A lot of people we’ve interviewed say their idea of a perfect day is to be at a festival with friends – and you are holding your own festival – Goffstonbury. How is that going? 

It’s a mini festival of a few hundred people. I just wanted to have a party basically – in my garden! A friend of mine Lily Cider bought the field around the house – they’re really nice and they’ve let me use a bit of the land which is good.  It’s been great finding acts for it – I’ve found this act called Junior Bill that I really like from Bristol. He seems to be quite outspoken and political, and he likes Elvis Costello records which I really like and yeah we’re just kind of getting some friends to play. It’s funny how it just snowballs and you just kind of get into it. We’re not charging any of the vendors to sell the drinks etc so they can come in and make a bit of money from it and there’ll be a nice co-operative sort of vibe to it. I’m trying to get Strummerville to do something – that was created by Joe Strummer and his wife Lucinda. I’m trying to get them to do a little stage.

You’re someone that is well known in some part for the celebration of youth with the Supergrass song ‘Alright’ – and your new album includes a track entitled ‘I’m done (trying to be young)’.  Has it been hard to negotiate transitions in life and keep that forward momentum creatively and in terms of how people identify with you?

Life has changed so much in those twenty three years since that song came out.  I think nowawdays it’s more sort of who you are online and how you are seen online and all of that sort of thing.  That just seems to be more relevant. I suppose in the 80s or 90s you could always choose your social path or your beliefs from musical fashion and stuff like that and you could kind of belong to a group or a subculture. I don’t know, it seems that a lot of young people are only being delivered a persona of culture that is rooted online and I guess you can feel really deserted if you don’t fit in with that. It seems like everyone has to look like the Kardashians or certain types of people, but I can’t feel those splintered subcultures. Sometimes the people that are a bit more creative or a bit weirder are where you can find your identity. The thing is to not take yourself too seriously – definitely.

What do you eat to stay healthy?

Roasted beetroots with a bit of cous cous. Everyone calls it cous cous with a lisp in our house – I don’t know why. Yeah, and sweet potatoes – sweet potatoes are really cheap and easy and you can slice them up into little wedges then you can get some creme fraiche, lemongrass and garlic and make a little dip for them…and if you’re feeling really fancy you can put some pomegranate seeds on them as well.

Weren’t you on Masterchef?

Yeah. I cooked loads of things – I got into the semi-finals in the end. I came fourth. I couldn’t really cook before but it was about a year or so after the band split up and I was just sitting around for a bit and at that time I wasn’t doing anything and I was into that thing of just saying ‘yes’ to stuff. You know I usually would have said: ‘there is no hope in hell I would do something like that’. But I just thought it would be quite good and I wasn’t doing anything for a couple of months and I got really really into it. I thought I was going to be really dismissive and would be making all of the food really badly, but I just got kind of hooked and wanted to do better and better. So at the point that when I got chucked out I had three glasses of wine and started getting really angry and burst into tears with the presenters. It gave me something to do and it wasn’t something completely naff where you don’t learn anything – it was quite interesting so I’ve kept it up. Actually I do find that cooking is something that’s really therapeutic – you know, I guess a lot of people do.

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

I try and swim as much as I can. Swimming is really good because you can swim and think at the same time because it’s quiet you know…well sometimes it’s quite noisy, but you can kind of get into a bit of a zone. It’s really good for thinking about lyrics as well. If you get a topic of a song you want to write about and you just do 20 minutes of swimming things just come into your head. I suppose it’s a bit like a meditation or something.  

What song lift your spirits?

Teenage Kicks by The Undertones

 

Greg, Adele and Joel of Bloom

2 weeks ago   |   Words: Phil Bridges   |   Photography: Phil Bridges

As Birkenhead bathes in the low March sun, broken liners await repair in the adjacent Cammell Laird shipyard. These sleeping giants are a fitting symbol of restoration as I near Bloom, the new home to mental health charity The Open Door Centre.

Opened in February, following seven years in Liscard, the charity’s new home is a cocoon of wellbeing. On entering the muralled building, muted dream-pop soundtracks bubbling curry and a wood burner crackles in a communal cafe area. Breakout spaces and therapy sheds are accessible towards the back of the tastefully renovated warehouse space. It’s the antithesis to sterile offices under flyovers and suburban clinics you might normally associate with therapy. It is 11am and the venue has just opened for a day of delivering mental health support to its 15-30 year old members. Gathered on a bench are Adele, Joel and Greg, three amiable 20 somethings, who channel their respective mental health experiences into full time roles at the charity. Over the course of our interview, The Open Door’s mantra of being a charity by young people for young people is clear.

Before we delve into a serious discussion around lived experience, the challenges young people face and therapy, I ask the interviewees to confirm their names. Joel deadpans “Joel Dipple. Nipple with a D” – propelling his colleagues into a collective belly laugh. “I genuinely never made that connection,” Greg chortles. The exchange is emblematic of how The Open Door houses vital conversations in accessible surrounds. It’s a Russian doll of depth – therapy punctuated with humour and warmth. Working on a free membership format, the charity supports young people feeling down, low, stressed or anxious, through its Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CCBT) tool ‘Bazaar: A Marketplace For The Mind’. Visitors are guided through the eight week training with someone of a similar age and character – providing a perfect blend of human interaction and accessible online intervention.

Adele Iddison, 25, Wirral, centre co-ordinator

PB: What are your own experiences around mental health

AI: It probably all started when I was in my early teens – a bit of anxiety and depression around my brother going to the army. It wasn’t taken seriously though. It was just seen as something to kind of shake off. But it developed into this horrible depression that I tried to ignore at first until I went to uni and it all came to a head. I dropped out of uni and just felt really low with no direction. The pressure of getting work added to it. 

PB: What has helped you?

AI: I think just talking to people about it, because that was my main issue – I just never spoke to anyone about it, I think because of that experience when I was younger and it not being taken seriously. It kind of shut me up as I got older. Once I did speak out about it, how I actually really felt, which was worse than what people thought, that’s when I was taken seriously.

This job keeps me well. Helping other people has really helped me. It’s helped with my confidence as well. Also, just making sure that I’m with people. Making sure that I’m at least doing something that I enjoy at least once a week – having that balance and making sure that I have structure.

PB: What challenges do you think young people face?

AI: I think the main challenge is not being taken seriously, and that worry of “If I do tell people, will I be taken seriously? Will people want to help or will they just think I’m weird?” You know, all the stigma around it as well – I think that’s one of the main challenges. And again, finding that support. There is a lot out there but it’s more about trying to find the right kind of support. It’s very clinical, which can work for some people but a lot of people need that feeling of being able to approach people. I think that’s a challenge for young people as well.

PB: How can The Open Door Centre help young people?

AI: We’re a non-clinical service. We have the volunteer programme, so we allow people to be paired with people that have that relatability factor to them. All the volunteers have had their own experiences too, including staff too. I think that’s a really big factor that comes into it at the centre. The course that we do as well is bespoke – there’s no course out there like it. It’s unique to the centre as well, and the building with the culture side I think is presented in a way that’s accessible and creative.

Greg Edwards, 29, Wirral, operations manager

PB: What are your own experiences around mental health

GE: I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in my early twenties. It’s something I’ve always had but it became worse as I got older. Thankfully, I got treatment and support when I was living in London and my recovery started from there, and it’s been pretty good since.

PB: What has helped you?

GE: In terms of keeping well, I think with a lot of mental health issues it’s about the journey you go through. So, learning a lot about yourself, learning about your own resilience, your own trigger points. I think that’s quite important. Keeping well to me is all about self awareness and sort of trying to nip things in the bud before they become a big problem again or blow out of proportion. Living quite a busy, active life suits me and my personality. I do a lot of endurance sport events and things like that to keep me busy and keep my mind healthy. I also do a lot of music and other creative things outside of work which stops me from having too much time to worry about other things, which seems to work.

PB: What challenges do you think young people face?

GE: I would probably say the digital age has caused problems in the sense people are always able to communicate and not necessarily in a healthy way. We see a lot of issues around things like cyber bullying. You know, in the past, if you were bullied at school and you went home, the bullying stopped. Now, if you’re experiencing bullying, it can continue online, in Whats App groups for example.

There’s a lot more acceptance around mental health issues now, which is a really positive thing but I don’t think the support networks, these statutory services, have caught up with the demand, and I think the expectation of young people being able to access support immediately isn’t there. That’s a real obstacle, and I think it causes quite a lot of tension for young people.

PB: How can The Open Door Centre help young people?

GE: One of our key ambitions, and something we’ve always met, is to have no waiting lists. Offering immediate and effective support in a creative, innovative environment is kind of central to what we do. It doesn’t have to be complicated – it’s not anything secretive. It’s all about having a person-centred approach to working with people where we respond to their individualism and help them through their journey in a way that’s compassionate and supportive. Using clinical tools but in a way that’s engaged with other people. It hasn’t got the same formal approach as in some clinical services.

What we’re trying to do really is offer that choice and that opportunity to people if they want to, or they’re not feeling great. They can just come along, sign up with us, and get involved. We’ve been gradually able to support more people each year. Now, moving to the Bloom Building, we’re able to more than triple our support, which is a great step for the charity but hopefully it will help the local area more and help young people more as we see more people.

Joel Dipple, 24, Stafford, venue co-ordinator

PB: What are your own experiences around mental health?

JD: My mental health deteriorated after the death of my best mate. I don’t think it was anything you could see as long term depression or anxiety, but the grief from that was something I bottled up for probably around six months and it came to a head in a series of panic attacks. I then sought grief counselling – for a little while, which helped. I always found for me personally, the art of conversation helped me get through that stage and helps me to this day in terms of coming to terms with what happened.

What I thought would have been great for me at the time was if there was a space like this where I was, where there was a more welcoming environment than something that was clinical. I probably would have sought help far earlier than I did. Now being able to work in an environment which is so welcoming and supportive of others is something that I am quite proud to be in this environment, hopefully helping folk. Even if it is, for me, just being on the coffee shop side of things and making it a welcoming experience for people. It’s great.

PB: What challenges do you think young people face?

JD: From my own experiences, knowing where and who to talk to. I think as young people, we are far more aware of the conversation of mental health and it is far more open, but there is still always the struggle of not wanting to maybe burden friendship groups or close people with mental health issues and not knowing where a conversation can actually take place around it.

PB: How can The Open Door Centre help young people?

JD: Having a space like this where, as Greg was saying, there’s no waiting list and a conversation can happen with someone who’s trained and relatable is an amazing thing.

bloombuilding.co.uk 

We Love Life – Loreta Okeke

3 months ago   |   Words: Rebecca Durband   |   Photography: Liam Jones

We all have mental health and our different ways of staying well. In We Love Life, we uncover the wellbeing habits of people as they go about their days. Here, 20-year old pharmacy student Loreta tells us about her love of exercising, cooking and of course – trashy TV. 

Hello Loreta, what are you currently studying?

I’m studying pharmacy at Liverpool John Moores!

Are you reading or watching anything we should know about? 

I don’t really have time to read because I have so much revision to do! I read the bible which is always great. I’m watching Big Mouth on Netflix which is really good, I’m also watching Snowfall on BBC1. Oh yeah and also my trash TV; The Only Way is Essex, Absolutely Ascot, Real Housewives of Cheshire, Made in Chelsea, all of the good stuff.

What are you listening to?

I listen to a lot of UK music, Afro beats, grime, hip-hop, drill. I like some Latin and gospel too!

Do you have any aspirations for the future? 

I wish to graduate with amazing results and get a good job, well paid. I just want to be happy really, be content in life. Just have good friends and a healthy family, be healthy etc.

What are you most grateful for in life?

I’m happy with where I live, my friends and family, my course, I’ve got a job and all that sort of thing.

And how do you stay mentally well? 

I stay out of people’s drama, keeping myself to myself, I exercise – exercising is really good. I’m not really much of a runner. I love cooking, cooking is really fun. I like leisurely drinking, not heavy drinking, like with the friends you know, social drinking.

 

Kwassa

4 months ago   |   Words: Natalie Lorimer

Scott Verrill is a musician and creative undergoing constant evolution. With childhood band ‘The Theory of 6 Degrees,’ he became one of the youngest musicians to showcase his talents at Glastonbury. Further projects have followed thick and fast, including two independently released EPs under the name KYKO and the development of DIY fashion label Hundred Club.

Verrill’s latest musical project, kwassa, is a nod to the music of his youth; namely Vampire Weekend and the Congolese rumba melodies displayed on their buoyant track ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.’ Exploring fizzing pop on ‘Moonwalking,’ the first single released as kwassa, Verrill sings of the euphoria that comes from meeting someone who catches you off guard.

We caught up with Scott to chat all things creativity, swimming and childhood high jinks.

What are you working on at the moment? 

I’m just finishing up final versions of tunes for my up-and-coming EP, and trying to put together a fresh live set to take on the road – I want to make it fun.

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

I think by the nature of doing music full time, there’s a lot of anxiety and self doubt that comes in the cycle of putting things out into the world, and I definitely put too much pressure on myself in-between. I’ve started a few other non-musical projects and hobbies, all of which stop me being too consumed in myself.

What have you learned about yourself over the past five or so years?

To trust my own instinct more and to be less swayed by what other people do/think.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

I’d be somewhere hot and sunny with close friends/family, swimming, good food, some sort of musical endeavour, and an evening run on the beach. Oh, and some dogs please.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

To be healthy and having a close circle of people I really respect. Also to be doing what I love every day is just the best.

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

I’m still not over Ariana Grande’s ‘Sweeter’ album, so I’m probably listening to that. I’m reading ‘Call Me By Your Name’ because there’s only so many times you can watch that movie on repeat. I manage to go about my life avoiding Netflix but the number one thing to watch for me is the new Coldplay documentary.

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

Being comfortable with yourself, acknowledging feelings, and knowing that there’s a way of dealing with everything.

What do you eat to stay healthy?

I love food and am not too strict on what I eat, because I’m definitely happier when I’m not cutting things out. I’m the kind of person that goes to sleep thinking about breakfast. That being said, I hardly eat sugary things, and don’t eat meat these days – and I feel good because of it.

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

I try either do a swim or run every day. Swimming is my favourite because there’s no chance of be being near my phone, and being underwater is just the most peaceful place.

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?

Someone always brought in a huge pack of cable ties and everyone took some. The aim was just to cable tie the anything in the room to the most stupid place. There were all sorts on the ceiling – shoes, chairs, keys. Probably still a funny game now.

What three songs lift your spirits?

Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard – Paul Simon

Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder

Viva la Vida – Coldplay

What is your favourite self-help book, or motivational quote?

There’s a guy called Austin Kleon who has a series of creative self-help books which I love. There’s one called ‘Show Your Work’ that I read a lot. It’s all about sharing the creative process, and not being too proud to open up to the people that enjoy your work.

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

To put yourself first and get some headspace. Life’s too short to let anything actually bother you. Sometimes people just need to talk so it’s good to be a listener, whether you can relate or not.

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