Girls Names – Going Through The Emotions

4 months ago   |   Words: Rebecca Durband

Belfast Trio Girls Names  have recently released their fourth album after three years. This includes new single ‘The Impaled Mystique,’ which sees the trio venturing into more experimental territory. We chatted to frontman Cathal Cully about pacing yourself, dealing with anxiety and the pressures of being a musician. 

Life appears to have got in the way of you releasing your album ‘Stains on Silence’, as you all had to return to full-time work and the album was put on hold a few times. What advice would you offer to musicians who are struggling to make ends meet and who don’t feel as though they have enough time or money to fully invest in making music?

Don’t burn the candle at both ends. Take your time. Make everything at your own pace – don’t be concerned with trends, or what’s popular. And most importantly, if it’s starting to sound weird – make it weirder and then more weird.

Do any of the songs on your new record deal with the subject of anxiety and mental health? If so, which ones?

The last record did massively. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, I was suffering from anxiety issues for years and was totally oblivious to it – not oblivious that something was up, as I knew something wasn’t right but it just wasn’t in my vocabulary. I did’t realise anxiety was a condition and that it did strange things to your mind and body and unfortunately it hit my body hard one day and it took me out of action for a long time.  I think this new record as a whole deals with the aftermath of all that and the coming to terms with life under new circumstances and a new outlook in myself and the world in general.

What’s one record that means a lot to you?

TRK – Psychic 9-5 club. It’s a beautiful record that simply reminds me of a really beautiful yet weird time in my life.

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

Touching on what I’ve previously said, I got super sick at Christmas 2014, both psychically and mentally, just right after we finished recording the last record. Inside, times were bad back then and I burnt myself down to a mental wreck and my body did’t thank me for it and I learnt the hard way that i wasn’t invincible anymore. I don’t think I was fully present during that time.  It took me a long time to get through that just by a slow process of recuperation and listening to my body and talking and crying. Truthfully, I hadn’t talked in years. My mother was amazing for me through that time.

How important has music been to your mental health?

Connecting with music is one thing and yes there are those moments that bring home a certain clarity and beauty that help with the madness of life. I think that’s why I got heavily into quieter, more gentle, experimental and emotional forms of music – listening to ear shattering guitars and drums can be terrible for the nerves. But as for making music and dipping my toes in the music industry- it’s a bloody murder picture. A life of constant self doubt, financial stress, highs, lows and anxiousness and a general malaise. But we endeavour to create as it’s in us. What ever we do next will see us plough further into these beautiful fields of abandonment away from the conformist ideas of the ‘but this is how you do things’ mentality.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

Sunshine, blue skies, little to no breeze. Up with the lark and out on the bike for 3-4 hours, another few tinkering away in the studio experimenting running something through something else and then back into something else again. Possibly a glass of Sangiovese. A light dinner with Basinski on the stereo. Magic.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

My health.

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

Peace and love.

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

It’s good to talk. And exercise – it clears the mind, get the endorphins pumping. It’s hard to worry when you’re knackered.

What three songs lift your spirits?

Ellen Arkbro – For Organ and Brass

Yves Tumour – Limerance

Bartosz Bruczyński – Parco Degli Aquedotti

Do you have any routines that help you through stressful situations, such as right before a live performance? 

I’ve been ‘experimenting’ with not drinking any alcohol before shows now. Just chilling. Years ago I was a constant bag of wiry energies before a show in denial of any nerves. To be fair I used to feed off and almost live for all that nervous energy on stage but now some very chill music, peace and quiet and a moment to myself is good for bringing the anxiety levels down to a minimum.

What do you eat to stay healthy?

Beetroot juice. Nitrates – oxygenates the blood. I’ll tell you what I don’t eat anymore to stay healthy – animal flesh.

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

Cycling. It’s my thing now. I hadn’t cycled in years, dabbled a bit when I was a kid – my Dad was a cycling nut but I rebelled and chose football, then music. But I got a bike last year to get fit again and for commuting purposes and ended up catching the bug. It was the best thing I’ve done in years. I’m really exited as I’m treating myself to a new proper racing machine when I get back from tour and ramping up the miles and fitness.

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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