Nelson Can – Going Through The Emotions

4 months ago   |   Words: Rebecca Durband

Inspired by acts including The White Stripes, Bikini Kill and The Doors, Scandinavian trio Nelson Can were born to perform powerful rock. Based in Copenhagen, the band formed in 2011. We were able to catch up with all three girls to discuss all things wellbeing. 

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

Selina: Right now I am actually not listening to a lot of music. I know it must sound a little strange, but at the moment we’re writing new music, and for me I need to turn off all other sonic worlds in order to concentrate my brain and ears on the goal to produce new stuff. But I’ve been very into Alex Cameron just to name one. I just read “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline, and I really want to recommend it to everyone – blown away, I just bought “Armada” straight after. Oh and I’m playing God Of War on PS4!

Maria: I listen to a lot of podcasts. Right now it’s a Danish podcast called ‘Police Radio’ (‘Politiradio’). It’s a weekly show covering older and current criminal cases in Denmark. The host is a crime reporter and the two co-hosts is a former police officer who used to specialize in gangs. The hosts are really clever, intelligent, and funny. For my birthday I got a subscription for the Danish newspaper ‘Information’. The newspaper is fairly leftist and cover both politics and culture. I love reading the old fashioned printed versions of newspapers. It’s also a good excuse to spend 3 hours eating breakfast and reading. At the moment I’m following the Season 10 finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race, an American reality competition searching for “America’s next drag superstar”. If you’re a sucker for performers with charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent, this is the show for you. I’m rooting for Eureka O’Hara!

Signe: I listen a lot to a Danish band called Kellermensch, many of their lyrics are about feeling like a loser, and not being able to live up to the idea of what a ‘real man’ is. I think it is very honest and poetic and I love it. I just finished reading some crappy paperback I bought in Gatwick airport a few months ago. Don’t remember the name of it, and I guess it doesn’t matter because I wouldn’t recommend it to you anyway, haha. But I did get a laugh or two out of it, so it wasn’t a waste.

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

Selina: In high school I was in a very dark place with anxiety. It paralyzed everything I enjoyed doing. I felt so down and alone, and felt like no one could ever understand how I felt. But my mom sent me to the doctor, and after waiting for a whole year I got my first session with a brilliant psychologist. She made me realize, that I had a “textbook” case of anxiety (which actually made me very, very calm, haha), and that I was NOT alone, AND that it could be helped if I took part of the process proactive. After 9 sessions, I felt I had gotten my life back. Sometimes I can still feel like I lost two years of my life to anxiety. That I somehow need to make up for them in my work. That I’m older on the outside that I am on the inside, because my mind was in a constant coma of “fight or flight”-mode back then.

Maria: I’m always in a either a state of working like a crazy or a total couch potato. There is no middle ground for me. Every time I’ve been put in a position where I’m pushed to my limits, it has always been my own choice.  And I’m very much aware that if I can’t take way the cookie crumbles, I have to leave.

Signe: I think that my biggest life challenge always has been, and probably always will be, how much pressure I put on myself to always perform well and do my best. I constantly have to remind myself that there are things in life that I simply cannot control and even if I could, I am not supposed to control everything. I just need to be a bit more relaxed and enjoy life, which of course is not as simple as it might sound. To me it helps being verbal about it and just talk openly and rationally about whatever I am dealing with and accept it, not as a part of me, but as a part of life.

What have you learned about yourself over the past five or so years?

Selina: That a strong friendship can turn ugly, when you forget to “nurse” it while striving for a shared dream. That work can get in the way of being creative – and losing your creativeness as an artist can mean you begin to doubt your whole existence. But having the courage to say to one another “we need a break from each other because we love each other” – accepting that and actually taking that break – you can overcome anything! That’s what happened to us for 6 months, and then we wrote EP3 together and began to play live again. We found each other again and kept believing it our shared dream and hard work.

Maria: I’ve learned to be better at keeping my mouth shut and think before I speak. I’m much more aware how people get affected by my words and actions. Free speech is not an excuse to be ignorant and hurtful. That said, I’ve also learned to use my energy on good people, and not waste time on people with their head up their you-know-what.

Signe: That it’s a waste of life to be at war with myself. In my early 20s it was difficult to face that I’d never be a size 4, that I was never going to be a straight A-student and that I probably won’t ever get rich or Instagram-famous either, but once I got over those things I felt so much more content and happy.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

Selina: Uuuuh, that’s a tough one! A perfect day for me, is when I can manage to do all the things I feel like I need to do that particular day. A day where I can combine creativeness,  laziness and love. Here’s an example of a perfect day: “Wake up, go to the studio and creative new music, then go home and play PlayStation (turn my overthinking brain off), then spend time with my loved ones over good food”. Combining three things I couldn’t do without.

Maria: I don’t get to see my extended family so often, so I love when my family get together for Christmas or Easter lunch. It’s just such so nice when all my family is gathered over good food and a little bit of beer and snaps. I can get really wrapped up in my own life and lose track of what is important for me. Then it’s nice to touch base with my roots.

Signe: I keep telling myself that there is no such thing as perfect. Not even a perfect day. A good day to me is a day where I am not stressed out.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

Selina: My continuous ability to channel my inner child and feel completely consumed by my imagination.

Maria: My family. My mom and dad who raised me to be a fairly decent human being.

Signe: My stubbornness. I am not necessarily good at the things I do, but I am so stubborn that and refuse to give up, which I think it covers up for it sometimes and helps me in the end.

Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”

Selina: Feeling my body and my mind in balance. No one, not even myself, can get me down.

Maria: Being well feed. Don’t mess with me when I’m hangry.

Signe: Looking at myself in the mirror and feeling content.

What do you eat to stay healthy?

Selina: I try to always buy organic and/or local. I never followed a specific diet, but I always just make sure to eat looooots of greens and very varied.

Maria: I generally eat what I want, when I want. But lately my jeans have been getting pretty tight around the waste, so the very obvious choices for me are: Don’t eat chocolate every fucking night. Don’t drink beer every fucking night.

Signe: I am very aware of eating fresh greens every day (vegetables – not just fruit) and at the moment I try to eat as little processed sugar as possible because it turns my energy-level into a rollercoaster ride and I hate that feeling of ‘crashing’ in the afternoon. I am also aware of not thinking TOO much about what I eat though, because I can become a little too controlling – especially if I am stressed.

Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?

Selina: No, I can for some periods of time, and then we go on tour or have something else that changes the schedule drastically – so I actually always just try to stay content with no routines. But I can feel in balance with my body, if I go to the gym every other morning and work out all my stress.

Maria: In the summertime (and sometimes in the winter) I like to go swim. I prefer outdoors swimming and the water quality in Copenhagen harbour is very clean. I hate running at home but when I’m traveling or touring I try to bring my running shoes and get a run in. It’s a good way to discover new places.

Signe: No. I should have, but I don’t. One thing all of us do every day though is ride our bicycles. I think it is standard to ride your bike for 5-15 kilometers every day when you live in Copenhagen. And then I try to plan my time so that if I’m not in a hurry and have to go somewhere I will walk and get that extra little exercise in.

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?

Selina: My answer here is very similar to Signe’s actually! I used to love hanging out with kids outside in the afternoon after school. Just doing stupid stuff and playing softball. I used to be really good at swimming, and in the water we would play water polo – also a very underrated game, haha.

Maria: During the summer I was playing football everyday with the neighborhood kids. Once I chugged a pint of water after a long day of playing on the sun. When I rode my bike back home I puked over the bike handlebar. How about that! Good memories…

Signe: When I was a kid all the kids from the street would gather after school and play soft ball or hide and seek and even though we weren’t necessarily that close in age we always had a good time.

What three songs lift your spirits?

‘Big Love’ by Fleetwood Mac – just everything about it.
‘Happy Ending’ by Alex Cameron – I love his lyrics and voice.
‘When The Levee Breaks’ by Led Zeppelin – not so much because of the lyrics, but because of the drums and the sonic world you get sucked into.

Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse of the Heart
Hedwig & The Angry Inch – Wig In a Box
Madonna – Vogue

Signe: I think it changes a bit from time to time, but it could be something like:

Wham! – Club Tropicana
ZZ Top – La Grange
Sarah Klang – Strangers (It might sound weird, but if I’m feeling down, I put on a super sad song and cry it out, and then I feel so much better afterwards)

What is your favourite self-help book, or motivational quote?

Selina: In Danish by Piet Hein: “Husk at elske mens du tør det – husk at leve mens du gør det” – which means you should love while you dare, and live while you do. Simple but such a power in those words.

Maria: As the philosopher Jagger once said, “You can’t always get what you want, You get what you need”.

Signe: We have a saying in the band which translate to something like “The worst thing that can happen, is that it goes wrong” (Danish: “Det kan højst gå galt”). If you can convince yourself that it’s not really that big a deal to fail at something, then you worry less and you move on faster if it actually goes wrong. You might even learn something from it.

What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?

Selina: Let yourself feel it, and tell someone. There’s no need to hide it away in a box somewhere so it can grow out of proportion. Sometimes you just need a little help from your friends. And hey! – it’s awesome to be vulnerable at times! It may not seem like it in the moment – but vulnerability makes great music, art, books, poems etc. You be you!

Maria: As the philosopher Homer once said “…alcohol! the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems”.

Signe: Allow yourself to be overwhelmed. You are not a failure just because your life didn’t turn out to be all rainbows and unicorns all the way through. It is okay to get overwhelmed sometimes, and when you are ready to talk about it, please do. It can be such a relief to just open up and be honest about how you feel.

Skinny Pelembe – Going Through The Emotions

1 week ago   |   Words: Mark Taylor   |   Photography: Auriane Defert

The successful pursuit of artistic endeavour has afforded Skinny Pelembe some well-earned lie-in’s, but don’t confuse a late start with laziness. The singer-guitarist-producer has been burning the midnight oil working on music that has featured on 6 Music and Radio 1 Xtra. After recently finishing a UK tour supporting the release of his single ‘I Just Wanna Be Your Prisoner’, Doncaster-raised Skinny offers The Mind Map his varied insight into accepting personal loss, and how best to navigate the London Underground with musical equipment in tow.

What are you working on at the moment?

Album 1 tracks, beats for other folks, a choral arrangement, album 2 demos, ideas for a special super cool science project, and since painting the new EP cover I’m trying to get my brush game up again!

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

Honestly, just trying to keep it together since losing my old man (as in passing on, not like losing him in one of those mega Sainsburys stores that do bedding and stuff, too). I guess you don’t overcome, more accept, having music / art as an outlet is so massively underrated.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

I might have had the perfect day in Nottingham last weekend, the city that just gives! City centre paddling pool, fairground, artificial beach, a Universal Works store, we played a show at Rough Trade, Yazmin Lacey and the Running Circle crew came out to hang. The only thing more that I wanted was a 99 flake, and when I finally got one I think I felt my pancreas bend upwards to form a smile shape.

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

I’m very quickly becoming obsessed with Aldous Harding’s voice and singing faces, so I’m listening and watching her A LOT. Reading Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami again, the whole mood of the book just feels so familiar, it’s the comforting literary equivalent of pie and mash for me.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

I’m most grateful that for at least most of my working week I don’t have to wake up before 9am anymore. That sounds lazy, but I’ll happily work till 4am, so get off my back, man!

Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”

…being the salmon that can swim upstream, and not necessarily make it up the river, but still smile as you push through the current.

What do you eat to stay healthy?

As little sugar and “bad” carbs as possible. Apart from the obnoxious amount of Rubicon passion fruit, and Maoam, and Nata cakes I consume.

I have the Juan Manuel Fangio of metabolisms, so until it slows down I’m just gonna continue to read loads about nutrition and be that wanker talks the talk but doesn’t walk it.

Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?

Running everywhere with my guitar, amp and pedals. I’m working with transport for London on a system that incorporates the kettlebell “functional movement” style into the “late musician lugging loads of gear around” routine, I think it’s just going to be a game changer…

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?

SJC. Standing Jump Crew. A rag tag group of young, dedicated mavericks with one goal – to push the limits of the standing-start long jump. I left the game as Doncaster Metropolitan Borough’s under 12’s Long Jump champ. The group disbanded shortly after. I’d hit the wall. Literally.

What three songs lift your spirits?

Oh Yoko – John Lennon

Show Me What You Got – Busta Rhymes

Just One Second – London Elektricity

What is your favourite self-help book, or motivational quote?

Those that matter don’t mind.

Those that mind don’t matter.

Mind over matter.

What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?

Paul McKenna’s Deep Relaxation Guided Hypnosis tape. Sounds ridiculous. Is ridiculous. But it works…

You can find Skinny Pelembe’s latest tour dates and releases here.

Nia Wyn – Going Through The Emotions

2 weeks ago   |   Words: Rebecca Durband

Nia Wyn is an inspiring young woman – using her own mental health experiences to help others.  Growing up in a small town in North Wales, Nia found comfort in old soul and blues records. Her latest release ‘Turnstiles’ was produced by Paul Weller. We caught up with the socially conscious storyteller to discuss her work, music and how she stays well.

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

I’ve been digging up 1960s and 70s Aretha Franklin releases. Early Nas. Trojan compilations too and the new Internet album. I haven’t found time to read for quite a while now. I’ve been watching a lot of UK crime dramas lately, including the Unforgotten. Plus Matt Groening’s new show Disenchantment.

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

Giving up alcohol. I’ve been four years sober. I had to draw on the support of my loved ones, throw myself into music and take my time. One of the best decisions I ever made.

What have you learned about yourself over the past five or so years?

That I need to give myself a break now and again as I’m way too hard on myself – still working on it.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

Spending the daytime with my loved ones, including my two cats Bobo and Homer, and then finishing the night off with a banging show with my band.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

That I’m still alive, and for the love and compassion I receive from those closest to me.

Could you tell us more about your work within mental health?

At the moment I work a couple days a week in a voluntary-sector mental health service in South London. I use my lived experience of mental illness to support others, and co-run a peer support project there. It’s rewarding and pays the bills to do music.

How have your personal experiences helped you develop empathy towards mental illness?

I think we are experts by experience. The best placed people to understand people experiencing mental illness are the ones who have been there themselves and can support someone by validating them and being there for them. It’s not about being ‘I know exactly how you feel’ cos that’s not true, no one knows exactly how you feel. But my experiences help me to relate and know what it’s like to be stigmatised in society.

Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”

Having time to be creative, feeling grounded, clear-headed and having good awareness of what I need in that moment.

What do you eat to stay healthy?

Try to get a good range of different vegetables, fish, meat. Most healthy days I’ll have a balanced diet with REASONABLE portions…

Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?

I used to be really slack with this – when I was a kid I was a proper little footballer, playing games every week. I had a long period of not exercising at all but as of late I’m pushing myself to go 2-3 times a week, half cardio half strength work. I do what I feel like on the day as long as I go, cos it’s not just about the affect on my body, it’s more about my mental wellbeing.

What three songs lift your spirits?

Marvin Gaye – How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You
Princess Nokia – GOAT
Buddy – Hey Up There

What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?

To give yourself time – and to know it’s okay to feel that way, and that the feeling will pass because all feelings are temporary.

Finally, what was it like working with Paul Weller? What did you learn from his approach?

It was the dopest. He is a real dude, proper down to earth and wise as hell. I learnt a lot from working with him, and we talk fairly often – he gives me a lot of tips and I’ve been sending him more material I’ve been writing. The biggest thing I take away from working with him is to not be afraid to try something new, push boundaries and be comfortable shapeshifting genres – if it sounds good it sounds good.

Chris Kirkland – Going Through The Emotions

1 month ago   |   Words: Caoimhe O'Neill

Former England goalkeeper Chris Kirkland walked away from professional football in 2016, having spent 17 seasons at clubs including Coventry City, Liverpool, Wigan and Sheffield Wednesday. He has since spoken publicly on his decision to retire from the game due to anxiety. In turn Chris has become one of the leading voices of mental health and wellbeing in football. Kirkland hasn’t altogether hung up his gloves – now coaching for Liverpool F.C Women as well as running his own academy for young goalkeepers. We caught up with Chris to ask about his favourite save, advice for goalies under pressure, his perfect day and more.

Hi Chris, you’ve just become the new goalkeeping coach for Liverpool Ladies, how are you getting on in your new role?

I’m loving the new role at Liverpool F.C Women. I was waiting for the right opportunity to come up and as I do a lot with Liverpool Football Club already, being a supporter and former player, this was perfect for me.

In 2001 you signed for Liverpool from Coventry City. Looking back, what advice would you give to your 20-year-old self to help stay in a good frame of mind?

When I was younger it wasn’t an issue, all I wanted to do was play football. It wasn’t until I got into my 30s that I started to struggle mentally. So, I wish there was help around back then at the clubs I was at because no doubt I would have sought professional help.

Who was your sporting idol when you were growing up?

My sporting idol was Steve Ogrizovic at Coventry City. Just seeing the way he trained and how he handled himself on and off the pitch, I learnt a lot from him and we still speak regularly to this day.

What was the most memorable save you made?

My most memorable save was against Nicolas Anelka at Chelsea for Wigan. I managed to scramble and lean back to tip a header over the bar at an important time of the game.

Goalkeepers can be highly scrutinised by fans and the media for their performances. Loris Karius being a recent example. Porto’s Iker Casillas defended the young German by uploading a highlights reel of his own mistakes in solidarity. What is the best advice you received during your playing days?

Keepers will make mistakes, always have, always will, just forget about it and save the next one.

What would you say to any goalkeeper playing under this level of pressure?

You have to try and switch off away from football. Family life is vitally important and the most important thing is if you are happy off the pitch you are happy on it and vice-versa.

As an ex-professional footballer physical activity was obviously a big part of your daily routine. What does your exercise regime consist of today?

I’m still very active. I power walk with my dog most days for 6 miles, I go the gym 3-4 times a week, play golf and obviously the GK training at Liverpool and my academy keeps me very active.

What are you listening to or watching at the moment?

I listen to all chart music and country music. We are watching Shooter on Netflix at the minute.

What have you learned about yourself over the past five or so years?

I’ve learnt that times can seem unbelievably hard but if you talk through your problems there is a way out if you want it enough and obviously how important my wife, daughter, friends and dog are to me.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

Perfect day would be an early morning walk with my dog, a nice bacon butty for breakfast, go out somewhere with my family and then cook a big roast for tea.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

I’m most grateful for still being here and having a great family and friends.

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