Nelson Can - Going Through The Emotions - The Mind Map
By Rebecca Durband

Nelson Can – Going Through The Emotions

“It is okay to get overwhelmed sometimes, and when you are ready to talk about it, please do.”

Published 27/06/2018

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.