“It’s ok to talk about it and time is a healer.”
Maven Grace are comprised of friends from Hong Kong, Connemara, Rome and London. Individually they have performed at Glastonbury and written Hollywood film scores. We caught up with the band’s Jason Magnus to discuss growing up in Hong Kong and the journey to becoming an artist.
What was it like growing up in Hong Kong? It’s a busy place!
Hectic and beautiful. The city moves at an insane pace but it’s also an island with the most calming coastline. I grew up in Hong Kong under British rule, then left for a few years, and when I returned it had been handed back to mainland China, all the while the city has always craved its own independence. So there’s a bit of a local identity crisis which feeds into the manic atmosphere of the city – it can drive me crazy at times but I definitely can’t live without it.
A large part of the population in Hong Kong practices Buddhism, is this something that you do?
Hong Kong is pretty multi faith actually – I’d say there’s an equal number of Buddhists and Taoists, as well as Christians in the city, and Confucian values are heavily followed in local education. I’m not a Buddhist though I believe in meditation and my wife and I try to fit in a Qigong session (a type of Chinese meditation involving rhythmic breathing) everyday – she’s more disciplined with it than I am.
Would your agree mental health awareness in Hong Kong and China has grown in the past decade?
Not really and I think it’s something that should be more widespread. Hong Kong can be very stressful with a huge emphasis on school grades for kids and earning a decent pay packet for young adults who can barely afford to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. I’d say mental health awareness in Asia probably lags a bit behind the west because, out here, you really feel that there’s only so many hours in a day.
What are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment?
I’m loving ‘Prequelle’, the new album by Ghost, particularly the song ‘Dance Macabre’ and I watched Collateral the other day – no one makes movies quite like Michael Mann. And that scene where Audioslave is the soundtrack to Jamie Foxx speeding his taxi in the LA night…it really made me miss Chris Cornell’s voice.
I’m reading The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie and I really don’t recommend it.
What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?
Having music be an active part of my life instead of a passive one. The industry means it’s getting harder to be an artist and there’s a lot of sacrifices made by yourself and those closest to you in order to even have a taste of something you believe in. I’m in a band where everyone lives thousands of miles apart. The day we officially released our first song made things seem possible.
What have you learned about yourself over the past five or so years?
How much I need my friends. I’m an only child and the older I get, the more I realise I shouldn’t take my friendships for granted.
What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?
Playing my old vinyl records, a couple of glasses of pinot noir, and a bowl of ‘sorrowful’ honey roast pork rice (incidentally, the winning dish in Stephen Chow’s God of Cookery.)
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My parents, my wife – she gives me the balance I always thought I could do without.
Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”
Staying calm when a storm is brewing.
What do you eat to stay healthy?
I drink a glass of hot lemon water first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?
Make it up though I try to do about 30 mins of exercise each day to kick up a sweat.
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?
Kicking a football in the parking lot after school with friends.
What three songs lift your spirits?
AC/DC – It’s a Long Way to the Top. Rock ‘N’ Roll’s greatest band at their most youthful. Remember this song playing at the end of School of Rock with all those Ramones posters in the background? Music with no cynicism, it’s just pure joy.
Wu-Tang Clan – Triumph. I have no idea what this song is about but the way I feel when all the MC’s each take turns on the mic makes me feel pretty invincible. Inspectah Deck’s opening verse is just insane.
Bruce Springsteen – Thunder Road. There’s a bunch of Springsteen songs that make me feel hopeful about realising impossible dreams, but Thunder Road makes you feel like you just swam the Atlantic and still have something left in the tank to walk across America.
What is your favourite self-help book, or motivational quote?
“You got to roll with the punches to get to what’s real” – Van Halen ‘Jump’
What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?
It’s ok to talk about it and time is a healer.