Danny Goffey – Going Through The Emotions

6 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


Skinny Pelembe – Going Through The Emotions

1 week ago   |   Words: Mark Taylor   |   Photography: Auriane Defert

The successful pursuit of artistic endeavour has afforded Skinny Pelembe some well-earned lie-in’s, but don’t confuse a late start with laziness. The singer-guitarist-producer has been burning the midnight oil working on music that has featured on 6 Music and Radio 1 Xtra. After recently finishing a UK tour supporting the release of his single ‘I Just Wanna Be Your Prisoner’, Doncaster-raised Skinny offers The Mind Map his varied insight into accepting personal loss, and how best to navigate the London Underground with musical equipment in tow.

What are you working on at the moment?

Album 1 tracks, beats for other folks, a choral arrangement, album 2 demos, ideas for a special super cool science project, and since painting the new EP cover I’m trying to get my brush game up again!

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

Honestly, just trying to keep it together since losing my old man (as in passing on, not like losing him in one of those mega Sainsburys stores that do bedding and stuff, too). I guess you don’t overcome, more accept, having music / art as an outlet is so massively underrated.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

I might have had the perfect day in Nottingham last weekend, the city that just gives! City centre paddling pool, fairground, artificial beach, a Universal Works store, we played a show at Rough Trade, Yazmin Lacey and the Running Circle crew came out to hang. The only thing more that I wanted was a 99 flake, and when I finally got one I think I felt my pancreas bend upwards to form a smile shape.

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

I’m very quickly becoming obsessed with Aldous Harding’s voice and singing faces, so I’m listening and watching her A LOT. Reading Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami again, the whole mood of the book just feels so familiar, it’s the comforting literary equivalent of pie and mash for me.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

I’m most grateful that for at least most of my working week I don’t have to wake up before 9am anymore. That sounds lazy, but I’ll happily work till 4am, so get off my back, man!

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

…being the salmon that can swim upstream, and not necessarily make it up the river, but still smile as you push through the current.

What do you eat to stay healthy?

As little sugar and “bad” carbs as possible. Apart from the obnoxious amount of Rubicon passion fruit, and Maoam, and Nata cakes I consume.

I have the Juan Manuel Fangio of metabolisms, so until it slows down I’m just gonna continue to read loads about nutrition and be that wanker talks the talk but doesn’t walk it.

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

Running everywhere with my guitar, amp and pedals. I’m working with transport for London on a system that incorporates the kettlebell “functional movement” style into the “late musician lugging loads of gear around” routine, I think it’s just going to be a game changer…

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?

SJC. Standing Jump Crew. A rag tag group of young, dedicated mavericks with one goal – to push the limits of the standing-start long jump. I left the game as Doncaster Metropolitan Borough’s under 12’s Long Jump champ. The group disbanded shortly after. I’d hit the wall. Literally.

What three songs lift your spirits?

Oh Yoko – John Lennon

Show Me What You Got – Busta Rhymes

Just One Second – London Elektricity

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

Those that matter don’t mind.

Those that mind don’t matter.

Mind over matter.

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

Paul McKenna’s Deep Relaxation Guided Hypnosis tape. Sounds ridiculous. Is ridiculous. But it works…

You can find Skinny Pelembe’s latest tour dates and releases here.

Nia Wyn – Going Through The Emotions

2 weeks ago   |   Words: Rebecca Durband

Nia Wyn is an inspiring young woman – using her own mental health experiences to help others.  Growing up in a small town in North Wales, Nia found comfort in old soul and blues records. Her latest release ‘Turnstiles’ was produced by Paul Weller. We caught up with the socially conscious storyteller to discuss her work, music and how she stays well.

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

I’ve been digging up 1960s and 70s Aretha Franklin releases. Early Nas. Trojan compilations too and the new Internet album. I haven’t found time to read for quite a while now. I’ve been watching a lot of UK crime dramas lately, including the Unforgotten. Plus Matt Groening’s new show Disenchantment.

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

Giving up alcohol. I’ve been four years sober. I had to draw on the support of my loved ones, throw myself into music and take my time. One of the best decisions I ever made.

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

That I need to give myself a break now and again as I’m way too hard on myself – still working on it.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

Spending the daytime with my loved ones, including my two cats Bobo and Homer, and then finishing the night off with a banging show with my band.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

That I’m still alive, and for the love and compassion I receive from those closest to me.

Could you tell us more about your work within mental health?

At the moment I work a couple days a week in a voluntary-sector mental health service in South London. I use my lived experience of mental illness to support others, and co-run a peer support project there. It’s rewarding and pays the bills to do music.

How have your personal experiences helped you develop empathy towards mental illness?

I think we are experts by experience. The best placed people to understand people experiencing mental illness are the ones who have been there themselves and can support someone by validating them and being there for them. It’s not about being ‘I know exactly how you feel’ cos that’s not true, no one knows exactly how you feel. But my experiences help me to relate and know what it’s like to be stigmatised in society.

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

Having time to be creative, feeling grounded, clear-headed and having good awareness of what I need in that moment.

What do you eat to stay healthy?

Try to get a good range of different vegetables, fish, meat. Most healthy days I’ll have a balanced diet with REASONABLE portions…

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

I used to be really slack with this – when I was a kid I was a proper little footballer, playing games every week. I had a long period of not exercising at all but as of late I’m pushing myself to go 2-3 times a week, half cardio half strength work. I do what I feel like on the day as long as I go, cos it’s not just about the affect on my body, it’s more about my mental wellbeing.

What three songs lift your spirits?

Marvin Gaye – How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You
Princess Nokia – GOAT
Buddy – Hey Up There

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

To give yourself time – and to know it’s okay to feel that way, and that the feeling will pass because all feelings are temporary.

Finally, what was it like working with Paul Weller? What did you learn from his approach?

It was the dopest. He is a real dude, proper down to earth and wise as hell. I learnt a lot from working with him, and we talk fairly often – he gives me a lot of tips and I’ve been sending him more material I’ve been writing. The biggest thing I take away from working with him is to not be afraid to try something new, push boundaries and be comfortable shapeshifting genres – if it sounds good it sounds good.

Chris Kirkland – Going Through The Emotions

1 month ago   |   Words: Caoimhe O'Neill

Former England goalkeeper Chris Kirkland walked away from professional football in 2016, having spent 17 seasons at clubs including Coventry City, Liverpool, Wigan and Sheffield Wednesday. He has since spoken publicly on his decision to retire from the game due to anxiety. In turn Chris has become one of the leading voices of mental health and wellbeing in football. Kirkland hasn’t altogether hung up his gloves – now coaching for Liverpool F.C Women as well as running his own academy for young goalkeepers. We caught up with Chris to ask about his favourite save, advice for goalies under pressure, his perfect day and more.

Hi Chris, you’ve just become the new goalkeeping coach for Liverpool Ladies, how are you getting on in your new role?

I’m loving the new role at Liverpool F.C Women. I was waiting for the right opportunity to come up and as I do a lot with Liverpool Football Club already, being a supporter and former player, this was perfect for me.

In 2001 you signed for Liverpool from Coventry City. Looking back, what advice would you give to your 20-year-old self to help stay in a good frame of mind?

When I was younger it wasn’t an issue, all I wanted to do was play football. It wasn’t until I got into my 30s that I started to struggle mentally. So, I wish there was help around back then at the clubs I was at because no doubt I would have sought professional help.

Who was your sporting idol when you were growing up?

My sporting idol was Steve Ogrizovic at Coventry City. Just seeing the way he trained and how he handled himself on and off the pitch, I learnt a lot from him and we still speak regularly to this day.

What was the most memorable save you made?

My most memorable save was against Nicolas Anelka at Chelsea for Wigan. I managed to scramble and lean back to tip a header over the bar at an important time of the game.

Goalkeepers can be highly scrutinised by fans and the media for their performances. Loris Karius being a recent example. Porto’s Iker Casillas defended the young German by uploading a highlights reel of his own mistakes in solidarity. What is the best advice you received during your playing days?

Keepers will make mistakes, always have, always will, just forget about it and save the next one.

What would you say to any goalkeeper playing under this level of pressure?

You have to try and switch off away from football. Family life is vitally important and the most important thing is if you are happy off the pitch you are happy on it and vice-versa.

As an ex-professional footballer physical activity was obviously a big part of your daily routine. What does your exercise regime consist of today?

I’m still very active. I power walk with my dog most days for 6 miles, I go the gym 3-4 times a week, play golf and obviously the GK training at Liverpool and my academy keeps me very active.

What are you listening to or watching at the moment?

I listen to all chart music and country music. We are watching Shooter on Netflix at the minute.

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

I’ve learnt that times can seem unbelievably hard but if you talk through your problems there is a way out if you want it enough and obviously how important my wife, daughter, friends and dog are to me.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

Perfect day would be an early morning walk with my dog, a nice bacon butty for breakfast, go out somewhere with my family and then cook a big roast for tea.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

I’m most grateful for still being here and having a great family and friends.

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