Max Pope – Going Through The Emotions

For Crystal Palace born, Brighton raised Max Pope, music has always been entwined in his life. And it’s a life that has not always been easy for the young soulful singer. “In some ways, I always felt like an outsider,” Max says. “But even when I had nowhere to go, I always wrote songs. It […]

Max Pope – Going Through The Emotions

By Ellis Toner

For Crystal Palace born, Brighton raised Max Pope, music has always been entwined in his life. And it’s a life that has not always been easy for the young soulful singer. “In some ways, I always felt like an outsider,” Max says. “But even when I had nowhere to go, I always wrote songs. It was how I communicated with the world.”

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

My stepfather walked out on us out of the blue when I was 15. There was no conversation, he just upped and left and never spoke to us again.

He was like a surrogate father to me. I felt the pressure of being the man of the house for my mum and younger brother, and it was hard not to cast a negative opinion onto my brother. I was so focussed on supporting the people around me that I don’t really remember overcoming it. Things heal over time. I talked to the people closest to me, which didn’t always feel natural but I pushed myself to do it. I tried Cognitive behavioural therapy which really helped. Making music helped me express my pain and process what was going on. It has always been a good tool for that. It is my internal compass.

What do you think affects your mental health positively?

I like gardening. It’s my day job, alongside making music. There’s a lot to be said for physically working at something and seeing the results at the end of a day. It’s very therapeutic. Exercising is really good. Looking into people’s faces and smiling at strangers. I think it’s important to maintain a sense of adventure – I try to put myself out of my comfort zone from time to time because it builds my confidence.

And negatively?

Comparing myself to others. Obsessively staring into one’s phone and scrolling through the internet doesn’t really help. I can be prone to overanalysing myself which can lead to insecurities. Basic things like lack of sleep can put me in a bad headspace. If I’m drinking too much or caning it too hard always leads to a downwards spiral.

What role does creativity play in your wellbeing?

For me it is the sole indicator of how I’m feeling. I tend to feel creative once I have processed my feelings and gotten through something. It’s not dependant on whether I’m happy or sad. It comes when an understanding clicks into place. As an artist I’m always needing to be creative, to deliver the songs. Because of this, it’s important not to become too outcome obsessed and to enjoy the process of being creative. I treat creativity like a small child that needs to be nurtured and attended to. Anything from going to an art exhibition to searching for pieces of driftwood on the beach, it all helps to make sure my attitude stays positive and playful.

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

I’m reading a book called “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” by Ocean Vuong. It’s written in the form of a letter from a son to his illiterate mother which I think is a beautifully poetic concept. The most recent thing I’ve watched and loved was TopBoy, which has put me onto Kano’s latest record “Hoodies all summer” and also Lil Simz. I’ve been listening to Slowthai + IDLES. There has been a great surge of emotionally raw and honest music recently which I am loving.

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

Donny Hathaway’s version of Jealous guy gets me through every time.

What are your favourite foods?

I love a good curry. I make a pretty decent Saag Paneer if I say so myself. If I need comfort food then pasta is usually first choice. One of my friends is Italian, so if I’m lucky I get the real deal. Extra extra virgin olive oil and all that.

Do you like to exercise or meditate at all?

I exercise most days and meditating is good when life’s moving too fast. Yoga seems to works for me because it’s very mindful exercise so it’s a combination of both. Sometimes I find it more beneficial to write a few pages, stream of consciousness. It clears my mind. I find it helpful to have a practise of some kind to do in the mornings, but I don’t always stick to the same thing so I don’t get bored.

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

“What people think about you is none of your business.”

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

When I was 15 I had all the ambition I have now but I think I was more materialistic. ‘Success’ looked and sounded like money and a big house. My attitude was a little arrogant, without having an understanding of the work required to get there. I still want to earn money and have a nice house, but I’ve learnt things like patience and gratitude, which means I feel more grounded. If I could see my younger self now, I’d tell him to be patient and to trust life. It’s not always easy though!

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