Inaction man: the liberation of knowing when to ‘do nothing’.
Charlie Hole knows what strings to pull. A gifted singer-songwriter, his scuffed-up white-soul music is by turns warming and wondrous like a Paolo Nutini for the Millenials.
Not only is he a distinctly talented guy, but he is also concerned with raising awareness about mental health and has been working closely with charities to address the issue and help raise funds.
Hello Charlie, thank you for dedicating some of your time to us. How are you? Working on any exciting new stuff at the moment?
At the moment I’m planning out my next nine months worth of touring and hoping to stay on the road for the time being. Most of my releases have already been recorded and I’m planning the promotion which is a whole other process in itself. It’s interesting but very different from writing and recording.
We heard that you are very passionate about raising awareness about mental health and have been working closely with some charities lately. Would you be able to tell us a little bit more about what you’ve been doing?
Yeah, I’ve been working with Hope Through Music, who have been great. I did a small Christmas card campaign to raise money for Mind, another great charity. I think it’s just something that I’ve come across a fair amount in the music industry and I wanted to do something to help in any small way.
Do you think that the issue of mental health is not given enough attention in today’s society? If so, what you believe should be done in order to de-stigmatise the subject?
I think it’s definitely improved in the last year or so. With a lot of issues – and we’ve seen it this year with various sexual abuse scandals – when people start to talk about it, other people start to come forward and share their own experiences and you get a snowball effect. That’s the way to create any kind of social change I think. The more people open up about stuff they are struggling with internally, the better it will be for the others.
At the Mind Map, we aim at sharing different experiences and point of views that could be useful for young people who are struggling. What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?
I think that working by yourself on something, being self-employed, and independent of a major record label or some form of infrastructure can be a challenge, but it also allows you an incredible amount of freedom. I’m not going to pretend that I don’t have the best job in the world, I really believe that I do and although there are challenges along the way, and down days, hard times etc. there are people who have real problems and I just can’t compare myself in any way so I try and be as positive as I can.
That said, I was talking to a friend just last night about some of the setbacks I’ve had over the last year, and how many times I’ve thought long and hard about giving up. I think it helps to take a step back and look at what you have achieved, rather than getting bogged down on what you haven’t.
What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?
Waking up at sunrise in the height of summer and going out on the water near where I live on the south coast of England. Then I’d hang out on the beach with my friends, maybe fish for lunch and have some beers and some kind of food in the evening around a fire. It sounds idyllic but there are certain days down in Bournemouth that run exactly like that. Nothing better.
You have been touring a lot recently. Is there anything specific that you do that helps you de-stress when things get very busy? Can you name three songs that lift your spirits?
It’s strange, I tend to listen to sad songs just as much as happy songs, and they can lift my spirits in the same way. At the moment I’ve been listening to ‘Elegy’ by Leif Vollebeck a lot, and this morning someone put on ‘Harvest’ by Neil Young. Anything by Flyte makes me feel pretty good as well. Hiss Golden Messenger as well, is that too many? I listen to a lot of music.
What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?
Take a day off, don’t do anything. Read a book, go for a walk, exercise, fresh air, eat healthy. Sounds simple but it really works. Oh and sometimes I take a cold shower just to shock myself into some state of presence. It really focuses you and makes you feel alive even though it sounds horrible.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
This is going to sound cliche because it is, but for good reasons: my friends and family. I have the most amazing network of friends and family for which I’m most grateful. I’m glad I get to tour so much to get around and see them all regularly.
Our aim is not only to provide mindfulness tips but also advice on how to stay healthy from a physical point of view. What do you eat to stay healthy? Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?
I try my best to eat vegetarian or vegan, although if I’m honest I can be fairly flexible sometimes on that. I’m not strict. I think it’s the best way to live in terms of healthy, moral, environmental and ethical living. I take my running shoes most places on tour and try and run around a new city to get a feel for the place. When I’m home I try and do some yoga or go to the gym but that all falls apart when I’m on the road. I would prefer a stricter routine but at the moment I’ve just been travelling and there’s a lot of late nights, moving around, drinking and bad food so don’t take my advice.
Can you share a memory from your childhood that makes you smile?
I couldn’t have asked for a better childhood, the whole thing makes me smile.
What is your favourite self-help book, or motivational quote?
My friend Jimmy is always saying ‘Keep Your Chin Up’, it’s like a catchphrase, I like that.
Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”
Being comfortable in yourself.