Nelson Can – Going Through The Emotions

8 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.

kwassa – Going Through The Emotions

3 months ago   |   Words: Natalie Lorimer

Scott Verrill is a musician and creative undergoing constant evolution. With childhood band ‘The Theory of 6 Degrees,’ he became one of the youngest musicians to showcase his talents at Glastonbury. Further projects have followed thick and fast, including two independently released EPs under the name KYKO and the development of DIY fashion label Hundred Club.

Verrill’s latest musical project, kwassa, is a nod to the music of his youth; namely Vampire Weekend and the Congolese rumba melodies displayed on their buoyant track ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.’ Exploring fizzing pop on ‘Moonwalking,’ the first single released as kwassa, Verrill sings of the euphoria that comes from meeting someone who catches you off guard.

We caught up with Scott to chat all things creativity, swimming and childhood high jinks.

What are you working on at the moment? 

I’m just finishing up final versions of tunes for my up-and-coming EP, and trying to put together a fresh live set to take on the road – I want to make it fun.

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

I think by the nature of doing music full time, there’s a lot of anxiety and self doubt that comes in the cycle of putting things out into the world, and I definitely put too much pressure on myself in-between. I’ve started a few other non-musical projects and hobbies, all of which stop me being too consumed in myself.

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

To trust my own instinct more and to be less swayed by what other people do/think.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

I’d be somewhere hot and sunny with close friends/family, swimming, good food, some sort of musical endeavour, and an evening run on the beach. Oh, and some dogs please.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

To be healthy and having a close circle of people I really respect. Also to be doing what I love every day is just the best.

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

I’m still not over Ariana Grande’s ‘Sweeter’ album, so I’m probably listening to that. I’m reading ‘Call Me By Your Name’ because there’s only so many times you can watch that movie on repeat. I manage to go about my life avoiding Netflix but the number one thing to watch for me is the new Coldplay documentary.

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

Being comfortable with yourself, acknowledging feelings, and knowing that there’s a way of dealing with everything.

What do you eat to stay healthy?

I love food and am not too strict on what I eat, because I’m definitely happier when I’m not cutting things out. I’m the kind of person that goes to sleep thinking about breakfast. That being said, I hardly eat sugary things, and don’t eat meat these days – and I feel good because of it.

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

I try either do a swim or run every day. Swimming is my favourite because there’s no chance of be being near my phone, and being underwater is just the most peaceful place.

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?

Someone always brought in a huge pack of cable ties and everyone took some. The aim was just to cable tie the anything in the room to the most stupid place. There were all sorts on the ceiling – shoes, chairs, keys. Probably still a funny game now.

What three songs lift your spirits?

Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard – Paul Simon

Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder

Viva la Vida – Coldplay

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

There’s a guy called Austin Kleon who has a series of creative self-help books which I love. There’s one called ‘Show Your Work’ that I read a lot. It’s all about sharing the creative process, and not being too proud to open up to the people that enjoy your work.

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

To put yourself first and get some headspace. Life’s too short to let anything actually bother you. Sometimes people just need to talk so it’s good to be a listener, whether you can relate or not.

Idles – Going Through The Emotions

3 months ago   |   Words: Mark Taylor

At sold-out venues across the world, an ever-increasing fan base is singing along to IDLES’ songs of torment, frustration and personal disaster. The bands sonic aggression, along with singer Joe Talbot’s lyrical candidness is an appeal to many who harbour frustrations of their own.

IDLES are mastering the art of turning the bad into good by creating powerful music with messages of defiance and positivity. Whilst commercial success has arrived, Joe tells The Mind Map that real success is understanding your own mental health needs, building community, and creating music on your own terms.

What are you working on at the moment?

We’ve not long come back from touring the US and Canada. We’re playing sold out shows around the UK now. The tour is good. I’m struggling with sleeping patterns if I’m honest. I can’t get to sleep at night on the coach. I’m normally getting up at 8 in the morning full of beans. Apart from that the gigs are amazing – the best gigs we’ve ever had. Album 3 is happening. We’re writing it now. Next year we’re going to Australia and New Zealand to play shows.

You got to number 5 in the UK Charts with your new album. Does it matter to you?

It matters that we got number 5, absolutely. The whole point of our narrative is to change the populous and its narrative. The problem at the moment is there’s a stranglehold on popularity, commercialism and artistic license. An example is Kings Of Leon. They made two great albums. At the time, they sounded great, they looked great. They did everything you wanted as a young person listening to bands. Then they began writing for bigger audiences and they sacrificed their artistic license for money. That’s awful. What I want to do is be able to headline the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury – but not have a single song in our catalogue that I’m ashamed of. I want to change people’s minds instead of changing my mind. We want to keep writing songs we love that are within our artistic language without sacrificing any of that. We want to make people like good music again.

The aptly named Joy As An Act Of Resistance seems to tackle the stigma around mental illness head on. Was it intended? Do you feel obligated to give people a feeling of positivity about themselves?

The reason I attack those things is because they’re concerns of mine in life. Be transparent on stage – be believable. Play and sing about the things you believe in and that you’re concerned with. The album was written in a period of life where I needed change. I needed to approach my mental health and my cyclical behaviour. I wanted to tackle ideas of masculinity because I was reading a book by Grayson Perry on toxic masculinity. These were things I was talking about in my life so I’m gonna write about them because that’s what’s important to me. The time we’re in at the moment, people feel so much more isolated than ever before because of the internet, because of social media. I’m not interested in singing about stuff I’m not interested in.

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

Without any shadow of a doubt, losing my daughter. I think giving advice on grief is a double edged sword. Sometimes there’s no right answer. The thing with grief that you should always remember is to never feel like you’re a burden. Sharing you’re feelings and your emotions. You’re supposed to be sad, so feel sad. Don’t apologise to yourself or anyone else for feeling sad, or down, or angry. Go through those feelings, be in those feelings and live through the sadness of grief. Don’t fight it, you’re supposed to be sad. What you do is you embrace sadness and you talk about why you’re sad. You keep doing it until you feel less sad, then you keep doing it until you feel ok, then you keep doing it until you feel better. But, you know – you’ll never, ever be the same after losing a child or a parent. Everything changes after those moments. You can’t fight it. You’ve just got to embrace those feelings. Embrace anger, embrace sadness, embrace loss. You’ve got to talk and accept that things are going to be that way for a while.

There’s some specific personas and characteristics you call out in the lyrics of Joy As An Act Of Resistance. Is there a face of the darkest parts of society you are fighting against?

Ant & Dec. Saturday night TV. People clustered around watching C-List celebrities jump through hoops for loads of money, whilst they’re at home eating out of food banks. There’s millions of faces of it. The whole point is that we’re now in a place that is driven by money. Perfect aesthetics. Performance driven economics and performance driven ideologies that makes people feel like they’re not good enough. So they get drunk on the weekend and then they work more hours then they they should, for not much money. For people that get way too much money. And they’re not investing back into the community or into the country. So there’s a constant cycle of isolation. Not one of those people in that cycle feel like they’re connected to the next. And isolation will make you feel like sh*t – and then you die.

There’s an open letter to your Mum on the inside of your first album Brutalism. Do you hold resentment towards alcohol or alcoholism?

I’m not angry at alcoholism. I’m at angry at my Mum, and the people around her for not helping her out – the adults around her when I was a kid. My step-father was good. I never got to the bottom of her alcoholism because she lost her speech before I could be adult enough to sit her down and ask her ‘Why do you feel the need to drink yourself into a stupor everyday?’ I’m sure it’s down to insecurities, isolation, two divorces, lots of things. But I can’t answer for her because she’s dead now, because of kidney disease. I resent the fact that she didn’t feel safe enough to talk about her problems. If she was in therapy and she had good friends around her, a good support network, and an awareness of what it was doing to her – she would’ve been able to stop drinking.

I don’t have any resentment towards alcoholism, I hold resentment towards my Mum’s situation. I don’t have any resentment towards my situation and my alcoholism because I’m on top of it. I’ve got a great network of friends who individually sat me down and told me I’ve got a problem. I’ve got a father who’s allowed me to make mistakes and who’s always told me he’ll be there for me no matter what. This allowed me to make my own decision to stop drinking. In the kitchen, on my own. No conversation was had. It was a Monday – and it was the first Monday I hadn’t been hungover in a long time. I felt good and I hadn’t messed anything up. There was nothing wrong with my life at that very moment. I wanted to sustain that idea of equilibrium where nothing’s wrong. I can’t control everything in the world but I can control my drinking. I remembered all the good conversations with the people who told me I needed to stop. So I stopped drinking and I stopped doing drugs. It’s not easy. I’m 34, I had been in that cycle for a long time. I worry about having conversations about alcoholism because I don’t want make it sound like ‘Yeah, just stop’. If it was that easy there wouldn’t be any issue, we wouldn’t be having this conversation in the first place.

The Mind Map – please note that alcohol withdrawal can cause seizures. If you are affected by addiction and are looking for sources of support and advice please see Mind’s addiction and dependency support service here. 

What do you eat to stay healthy?

On tour you get a rider. We’re a bigger band now so we can be specific with our rider. We have raw green spinach and kale, broccoli, blueberries, peanut butter, bananas. We make a smoothie out of all the green stuff with ice cubes and mushroom powder. I’ve been fasting in the mornings and day time and for mental health because it really makes me feel better. When you get in the cycle of it, fasting is incredible for your mental health and your physical health. Me and Bowen (IDLES guitarist) talk a lot about diet as a way of treating yourself better and looking after yourself.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

My partner, my friends, the AF GANG community. It’s on Facebook, there’s 10,000 members and they built it up around our music as fan club type thing. Our music is a catalyst, I wouldn’t go further than that. After a while that subsided and it turned into a community of people supporting each other. Their motif is ‘All is love’. People go there with their problems and they go their with stories. One dude was agoraphobic, he wouldn’t leave his house. He made friends through the group and they encouraged him to come to a show. When they met him, they realised he needed help and they got him a job. Stuff like that happens all the time. One person tried to commit suicide and put a call for help up on the group page. Two people figured out where they lived and called an ambulance. It’s the best thing on the internet. The people that built it should be proud of themselves because it’s amazing.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

I’d wake up next to my fiancé. We’d have sex, I’d make us breakfast and we’d go for a walk through Westonbirt Arboretum. Then I’d have beans and toast with cheese on it. Then I’d meet up with he boys, we’d have a pint of Guinness in Dublin, then we’d play a show and my fiancé would be watching.

Your lyrics are complex. Moving seamlessly from hilarious to bizarre, to angry. Is there an intent to be funny in songs that discuss serious topics around mental health and politics?

Yes it’s meant to be funny. I don’t go around crying all the time. Everything’s funny if you look at it in one way. Like – I’m not laughing at the poor. I’m not going ‘haha – that’s funny’. I’m laughing in a sense that it’s ludicrous. The cycle that we’re in is a wheel of absolute archaic rubbish that needs to break. We’ve got more money in our country than we need, yet when I was working in care homes, you had to not quite ration their food, but you needed to be careful. There’s just not enough facilities for the care system or for working class families. When you see pockets of it – it is funny, yet most of it is a tragedy. I’ve written about the worst times in my life, but there’s hilarious parts to it that would have only happened if I’d have been an utter toe-rag. Tragedies and comedies are one line away from each other.

What music lifts your spirits?

Otis Reading

The Walkmen

The album Astral Weeks by Van Morrison always cheers me up.

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

If you feel like you’re unhappy then you’re going through cycles of behaviour. The worst thing you can do is accelerate those things with alcohol and drugs. You need to talk, you need to open up and you need to make yourself vulnerable to the people around you to learn about yourself and be able to progress forward. If you don’t have anyone you can trust around you, or you don’t feel you can talk to about your innermost problems, seek counselling. There are lots of charities all around the country that offer free counselling via different networks. I think it’s the best thing anyone can do. People aren’t talking enough and isolation is the thing that leads people to the worst behaviours. So I think the sooner people talk, the sooner people feel connected and the sooner people heal.

Idles are currently on tour – keep up to date with them here.

White Lies – Going Through The Emotions

4 months ago   |   Words: Natalie Lorimer

White Lies are on the cusp of a new chapter in their history. The trio has found a new home with a new record label and will mark the tenth anniversary of their inception with their forthcoming album, ‘Five.’ With their sound evolving into something bolder and more complex than previous efforts, the band has found themselves pushed to new creative heights. Their latest single, ‘Believe It,’ embodies this shift in direction; a four-minute, synth-powered singalong that explores the process of therapy from multiple angles.

We spoke to White Lies bassist and lyricist Charles Cave about the mindfulness of weightlifting, his advice for helping friends out of a dark place, and an epic table tennis match with Kings of Leon frontman Caleb Followill.

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

I’m reading ‘Hombre’ by Elmore Leonard, I’m also re-reading Salinger’s ‘For Esme….’ collection of stories for a fiction-writing course I’ve been part of for a few years, and then I’m also dipping in an out of a non-fiction book about the fall of Rome by Bryan Ward-Perkins. And finally I have a book called The Daily Stoic by my bed, for a little daily dose of helpful and practical philosophy.

I tend to seek comfort in things I know and love: ‘Scritti Politti, Pantera, ‘Hats’ by the Blue Nile….’The Far East Suite’ by Ellington. These are all records that just sit permanently by my hi-fi, poised for action. But slowly I’m educating myself with classical music I missed out on growing up.

I don’t watch much TV. My girlfriend somehow manages to watch everything, so I wait for her to tell me something is really worth watching before I do. The last amazing thing I remember watching on TV was the War and Peace dramatisation with Paul Dano. Also, the Quincy Jones documentary on Netflix is fantastic!

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

I think if we keep being open, stay in a constant state of studentship, and always try to view everything from different perspectives, then we can overcome anything. Easier said than done, of course, most of the time.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

Brunch, a long Autumn walk somewhere beautiful, an evening in one of my favourite pubs with friends, food, perhaps some really great live jazz, and some beautiful dogs.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

I’m completely aware of my privilege and the opportunities I’ve been able to act on because of it. I think most of all I feel so grateful for my home, and for the close friends I have around me, and for the resources with which to express myself in all the failed and successful ways I have so far, and continue to do.

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

The ability to react in an emotionally useful way to the multitude of experiences life puts before us.

What do you eat to stay healthy?

I compensate for my sweet tooth with exercise. I try to base my core diet around boiled eggs, fresh vegetables, lean meat and fish, and plenty of water. You really can’t drink enough water. I’m also becoming a fan of intermittent fasting. It makes me feel good.

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

I try to go to the gym three times a week, where I mostly lift heavy weights and do very short sprints. I really love lifting weights for the focus it requires. I’m loathed to throw the ‘mindful’ word around too much, but I’ve found lifting weights more than cardio exercises really keeps my mind focussed in the absolute present. You can’t start daydreaming, or worrying about what’s going on in your personal life, because you will drop a heavy steel bar on your chest or back! On the days I don’t go to the gym, I really do try to walk a good six miles a day.

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?

I spent most of my primary and secondary school years trying as best as I could to avoid any physical exertion. To say I wasn’t ‘sporty’ is a massive understatement. In secondary school, after the age of 15, you got to chose your own sport option on a Wednesday afternoon. I spent five years trying to find ‘the easiest sport’. Unfortunately, I made some term-long mistakes. Turns out fencing is really hard, and sweaty, and the outfit stinks. Also turns out the table tennis at a fiercely competitive level is equally strenuous. I have to say though, that came in handy when – cut to ten years later – I beat Caleb Followill at a heated game of table tennis in an arena dressing room somewhere in the midwest. Big crowd watching – [Caleb’s wife] Lily Aldridge included…

What three songs lift your spirits?

Paul Simon – Mother and Child Reunion

Yellow Magic Orchestra – Sportsmen
Scritti Politti – Perfect Way

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

Chose a sport or exercise that demands your full focus, attention, and strength. Also, for a bit of very very specific advice –  search for ‘Michael Sealey’ on YouTube. You have to get over his oddly porno tone of voice, but his videos have worked absolute wonders for me. I really mean it. Give them a go.

I’d like to twist the question now, to add a last comment on something I feel quite strongly about. Instead of offering advice to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed, I’d like to offer advice to friends who want to help their friends who are overwhelmed.

There is a lot on the internet regarding mental health awareness about TALKING. About providing a safe space for those suffering to talk, and to feel comfortable talking and opening up about their experience and agony. This is of course very important, and beneficial. Someone caught in a depressive state with nobody to talk to is a lot worse off than someone with a friendly ear to chew. HOWEVER – I really think too much emphasis has been put onto this, and we need to shift awareness to the practical things we can all do to help those in need. I’ll be honest with you, if you’re friend is having an AWFUL time, your text saying “I’m here to talk whenever you want” is probably not enough. Think of talking as mild painkiller. We need ways to actually help this person recover quickly from what they’re afflicted with.

So here is my, possibly controversial advice: Lie. Make up a big fat lie that gets this person you are worried about to come and be with you doing something slightly strenuous, something that requires focus, and something that requires a degree of sociability. Have you been meaning to re-paint a wall in your bedroom for a while? Perfect. Call, text, or go an physically collect your friend that you’re worried about from their home and say: “I need a massive favour, mate. I’m really sorry. I started painting my bedroom wall and I’ve just bitten off more than I can chew. Can I borrow you for a few hours? I’ll owe you a MASSIVE FAVOUR. And I’ll buy you brunch to make up for it.” That’s just one example. Borrow a dog, and call your mate and say “You’re good with dogs aren’t you? OK so I said I’d look after Rex but I literally don’t know what I’m doing and I’m scared its going to run away when I have to walk it….”

White Lies will embark on a European and UK tour in 2019. Dates and ticket details available here.

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