TÂCHES talk to us about making music and overcoming grief.
What are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment?
I’m reading ‘I Dreamed of Africa’ by Kuki Gallman – the heartbreaking tale of life lived and lost in Kenya. The descriptions of the landscape and people make me feel so nostalgic for a place I’ve never even been to.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Erik Satie and Francis Poulenc lately. I have a newfound interest in music theory and the imparted emotions it can help decode and demystify, so classical piano music has been great homework.
I’ve just finished watching the latest season of Bojack Horseman. I doubt I need to speak much to the wonders of this show – but I’m constantly blown away by the scope of its humour and emotion.
I think it portrays mental health struggles very accurately and I can see a lot of myself in some of the plights of its characters.
What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?
I think the biggest struggle in life is having the courage to live. At times I simply default to inaction out of fear or laziness. I know deep down how to be happy. It’s really easy in fact. It’s merely a problem of constant discipline and staying true to the path of joy and enlightenment.
When life is in alignment, not everything has to go well for you to be happy. It comes down to a positive, curious outlook and choosing to approach each moment courageously filled with a desire for adventure.
What was the biggest factor in helping you overcome grief?
I can however say that while ‘removing’ yourself from your social circles and responsibilities for a while may feel like the right thing to do, you have to be careful not to let that desire for isolation overstay its welcome in your life.
What can start at first as time to recharge your batteries, and take a breather can very quickly overwrite all that you knew and loved if you’re not careful. It takes an enormous amount of energy to then climb out of the hole you’ve been burying yourself in.
Be alone. Spend a few days living on the sofa watching cartoons if you feel like it, but after a few days get up and go and see friends or cook a nice dinner for your family. It’s ultimately those experiences that help you move past the dark moments, not the time spent alone.
What have you learned about yourself over the past five or so years?
Good habits are harder to implement, bad ones are harder to drop.
What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?
A beautiful hike with the doggy followed by a long dinner party and music under a big tree filled with little lights.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”
-Going to bed before 00:00 – waking up before 08:00. Reading a good book before sleep.
-Having no phone/laptop screens in the bedroom. A proper alarm clock should be the only bit of tech beside my bed.
-Having a form of simple morning routine, involving some kind of light exercise and appreciation and imagination meditation.
-Having a great breakfast every morning. Breakfast should be an activity undertaken on its own. No multitasking.
-Doing all of the above before I engage with the rest of the social and work world. No reading of messages or emails until I’ve been awake for at least an hour and have fulfilled my duties to myself.
-Maintaining an appropriate balance of time spent alone and time spent with others.
-Ensuring that I am constantly learning new knowledge and skills in areas that really interest me.
-Doing the things I know I love and doing them mindfully, without distractions.
-Having meaningful conversations with people who entice you to grow.
-At least one day of the week be in nature.
-Eating at least two good meals of home-cooked food a day.
-Spending as little time as possible looking at screens. As little social media as permits the running of my business affairs.
What do you eat to stay healthy?
Cooking is as much an artistic endeavour for me as making music, and I take huge pleasure in the food I prepare. The only ‘routine de cuisine’ for me is eggs for breakfast. I like to try to make something new every time I cook, but it’ll always be with fresh, organic produce.
I like to use a lot of garlic, onions, grass-fed butter and salt.
Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?
I’m in the process of acquiring a farm in Portugal which will need a lot of work, so the exercise schedule is definitely going to get more demanding over the next few months.
Here at The Mind Map we remember playing football and ‘tag’ – running around the playground every day and loving it – can you share a similar memory?
My friend Matt (A.k.a. KAASI) and I used to pretend to be farmers when we were younger. By that I mean, we would put on wellies and a Barbour and go and dig up the garden in the rain before coming inside to drink a few cups of tea beside the fireplace.
I’m going to do a lot of this in Portugal!
What three songs lift your spirits?
M People – Search For The Hero
Rod Stewart – Baby Jane
Rupert Holmes – Escape (The Piña Colada Song)
What is your favourite self-help book or motivational quote?
Although the writing feels a bit cheap at times, the underlying message and how it’s laid out is great in The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. I also really enjoy reading stoic philosophy, due to how practical and grounded the teachings are.
A nice intro to this is Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness.
How has your experience with grief impacted yourself and your music?
I feel as if everything I had ever done, experienced and achieved before my father died were chapters in the first part of my life. Since losing him, everything feels completely different – despite looking the same.
The pain felt through these past few months have filled me with an excitement to live fully and to experience and document all of the beautiful things in the world.
What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?
If the answer is no, decide immediately to make the changes necessary to make the answer yes. Repeat as necessary.