GLOWS – Going Through The Emotions

GG Skips is GLOWS, an experimental songwriter with an ear for catchy melodies and strangely addictive hooks. On his debut EP, ‘JL Hooker Love Pleasure Forever,’ the tracks look outward to explore the dysphoria and idolised sadness found in the modern world. “JLHLPF is about the blues,” Skips says of his new release. “The modern blues, […]

GLOWS – Going Through The Emotions

By Natalie Lorimer

GG Skips is GLOWS, an experimental songwriter with an ear for catchy melodies and strangely addictive hooks. On his debut EP, ‘JL Hooker Love Pleasure Forever,’ the tracks look outward to explore the dysphoria and idolised sadness found in the modern world. “JLHLPF is about the blues,” Skips says of his new release. “The modern blues, an undeniable fog that looms over us that we can’t describe.”

With this in mind, we spoke to GLOWS about his own experiences of psychosis, his outlook on sobriety, and the catharsis of art and life’s simple pleasures.

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

I think the biggest challenge for me was around the time of my diagnosis of depression and psychosis. It was a bizarre thing to be this ‘mental’ person you read about or watch in the films, and a strange confirmation that you haven’t been okay for a while and won’t be again – at least thats what it feels like at the time.

I would think that my condition was some sort of punishment; I was isolated and anxious and it messed up my relationships, my interests and passions. I left two universities, I couldn’t get a job because of anxiety, I would drink every day as the only escape, and wake in distress. And being a boy, this was paired with embarrassment and a fear of communicating this.

I would always put on a brave face and I don’t think many people noticed I was going through this.

When you’re in a state like that, it’s hard to see how you will get out or if there’s any point in doing that anyway. But 4 years later, I am off medication and healthy and love life, and am still in shock that that is now a possibility. I think through a period of intense introspection you learn more about yourself and you learn who really cares about you.

The biggest help was to just keep going, and incrementally change your actions. Start looking outward, both mentally and physically – literally take a walk outside. The NHS were incredible, and the methods they taught me seemed mundane at first, like writing lists, keeping a diary, eating healthy, finding an exercise that you like.  Once I adapted them to my own personal interests – either turning the lists into songs, or making art from them – I realised that these methods are all helpful because they make us feel alive and present. Cycling to work means you look at the city bubbling around you, and it seems like you are part of something bigger than your own mentality – it’s refreshing.

What do you think affects your mental health positively?

Recognising the wider world. You can get concerned with your own creative practice, jobs and relationships with people and then you go walk through a forrest and remember that really it doesn’t matter and the world’s pretty insane and cool to look at. Just go for a walk if you’re feeling low, make some observations.

Find some simple pleasures and turn it into a routine; get a coffee every day and sit and look at some ducks in a pond or something. Never blame yourself for not being motivated to do these thing either. Don’t put pressure on not achieving the simplest tasks, just sort of say “Fuck it” and do it again. I think treating my depression as a separate entity who is lame and annoying and ruins the party is pretty funny and helpful, even if it feels way more serious and terrifying than that.

And negatively?

Seems obvious, but drugs and alcohol. I’ve always had a weird relationship with it. Sometimes I think it is actually okay to delve a bit, as the pressure from a lot of mental health advice is to absolutely avoid at all costs. I don’t think pressure is a good thing if you have a mental health condition; it makes you more isolated as if you can’t be involved in the “normal” society. But that said, all dives I’ve had have been triggered by substances. I have to treat it like a lactose intolerance – the more I consume, the more it will destroy my insides.

I wouldn’t recommend starting any of them. I often look at “normal” T-totalers and envy their wellbeing. But if you do delve, remember to take it easy and notice what works and doesn’t work for you. If it becomes something to cloud over everything, then stop for a bit. Be aware of the reasons you do not want to be sober.

What role does creativity play in your wellbeing?

Making music and art is just the best therapy in the world, because you are able to feel an accomplishment that is special to you.

You own something that no-one else can. It’s an excuse to reveal your feelings in a beautiful way. When I am in a lull, I will just lay my equipment out and create a wall of sound that I can get lost in, like a massive purging of all negative stuff.

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

I’m currently writing my thesis for university on Tropical Aesthetics and Hauntology, so I’ve got way into stuff about imagined futures, hazy memories and exotica.

Musically the new Jerkcurb album is amazing, Les Baxter’s imagined film scores, Deux Filles, The Ink Spots, The Caretaker’s 20 year project on lost memories. I listen to a lot of ambient and techno at the moment too, stuff from Lorraine James, Hype Williams, Micachu, Saint Jude, Hieroglyph Being.

I’m reading Deluese and Guitari’s ‘A Thousand Plateus’ and Mark Fisher essays mainly. I last watched ‘Superbad’ and the ‘Between Two Ferns’ movie on Netflix. I’m not all doom and gloom.

What’s your go to music if you need a boost?

Sad music is good for a boost because it’s cathartic, as well as anything from childhood. I document every song that sticks with me in a Spotify playlist thats been going since 2012. It’s like a documentation of my last 7 years through music. Anything life affirming that feels close to nature and uses field recordings; The Books, Animal Collective, El Ten Eleven, Four Tet, Boards Of Canada, Grouper, The Beta Band, Linda Perhacs, David Bowies ‘Five Years.’

What are your favourite foods?

Thai Food, all Thai food.

Do you like to exercise or meditate at all?

I cycle and walk everywhere. I meditate when i can, but I always make excuses. Whenever things get bad I get out of London to Hastings on my own and read and walk by the sea for a week.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received in regards to your mental wellbeing?

Don’t feel bad about feeling bad.

How have you changed since 15, and what advice would you give to that person?

Anyone reading this looking for advice needs to remember it has to come from them. I once was desperately searching on Google “how to cure depression” as if that was going to work. Advice is great, but is different for everyone.

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