Strange Collective – Going Through The Emotions

4 months ago   |   Words: Wes Pilgrimage   |   Photography: Andy Von Pip

Picture a painted marquee housing Liverpool’s idiosyncratic creative community and that’s pretty much Strange Collective. As their name suggests, the band’s output extends far beyond their Ty Segal and Black Lips inspired garage rock. Led by the polymathic talents of Alex Wynne, the band are designers, promoters, poets and party planners. We caught up with Alex to discuss self esteem, being hard on yourself and childhood memories of ‘The Stick Game’. 

What are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment?
As of very recently a lot of The Gories, The Dirtbombs, Bass Drum of Death, Thee Oh Sees, King Khan and The Shrines, The Black Lips. I’ve been getting myself into that lo-fi garage sound really heavily…some might say too heavily. I tried the second season of Westworld and just got bored of everyone speaking in riddles so turned it off. I need to read more full stop, something I’m very guilty of.

What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?
Having low self esteem is something I definitely need to work on. Being super negative is also something I struggle with, if I’m being honest I think its something passed down through genetics. Glass half empty and all that. But ultimately I think I’ve been pretty lucky.

What have you learned about yourself over the past five or so years?
That I need to grow up and stop being so hard on my self, that’s a pretty hard question to answer as I feel like I haven’t learned much. I’m not sure if thats a good or bad thing. There are lots of things I would like to think I’ve developed and moved forward  but the last five years have flew by and not given me much chance to sit and contemplate. Saying all this I can marginally play guitar little better….this may not be true.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?
Just a quiet day to draw a little, to play my guitar maybe a few drinks and time with my fiancé and friends, a simple day no stress or expectation no plans. Just an open day where we make it up as we go, sunny but not roasting, being ginger effects this. Basically laugh and make my loved ones laugh, make a bit of music with the band, simple. bit deep that wasn’t it.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
Honestly the people around me and they how constantly deal with me and put up with my moaning. The people I don’t tell enough how much they mean to me. My fiancé for loving me and helping me as much as she does which will always be a mystery. My band who happen to be my best friends who I should tell them more how much they mean to me. My family. Without those people in my life, I would be nothing. I mean, I’m not trying to be horribly emotional they just do keep me going, despite me being a weirdo.

Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”
A clear mind, with a smile on my face.

What do you eat to stay healthy?
Well as I’ve recently just started trying to lose weight and get fit it has dramatically changed and is more considered. I deal with some mental health issues and medical issues, so its a no brainer to eat better and make an effort. Unknowingly to me I’ve pretty much became vegetarian, its working for me and I actually feel better. Vegan maybe a bit much for me. As much as I respect it, I love cheese.

Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?
Im annoyingly into routine almost OCD levels, I don’t know how deep you want me to go. Every day pretty much consists of a run or bike ride, the same breakfast, the same salad for my dinner with some rice and hummus, and we try to cook different things every night. Haha I can’t believe how much of a psycho or boring I sound right now.

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 was a weird kid I wasn’t into footy and stuff of the like even though I played, I just remember drawing with a few of my friends and making up monsters and robots, simple stuff. I think it was more the group mentality and being creative and being silly. That and a game we called “the stick game” played in Newsham Park in Kenny, the rules were subtle and nuanced…throw sticks at each other until some one has to stop, good times…good times.

What three songs lift your spirits?
Neil Young – Don’t Let It Bring You Down. I was going through a pretty weird time of intrusive thoughts and depression and anxiety an the words “don’t let it bring you down its only castles burning” just made me feel better and told me shit was gonna be okay.

The Beatles – Getting Better. Same reason as the last really, just over the last couple of years the song just let me know that I’m fine and gonna get better, the chorus makes me feel infinitely better every time I hear it.

Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band – I’m the Urban Spaceman. No deep meaning its just dead fun and my dad used to play it to me as a kid, just proper fun init.

What is your favourite self-help book, or motivational quote?
I think just reminding yourself that you’re good, is good. And breathing in, appreciating what you have. Im concerned I’m being way to heavy here haha.

What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?
Just to talk, talking helps you understand what the problem is, where the stress comes from. I find with me personally its like steam being let out thats built up. Honestly it is just to let them talk and to listen and try to understand.

Check out the third annual ‘Strange Collective All-Dayer’, taking place at Constellations on 11 August here.

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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