“Take a breather, take some time out.”
Growing up, Tropics, AKA Chris Ward, was heavily influenced by his older brother, who was also a musician. He would make him cassette tapes and burn CD’s of early 90’s Trip-Hop, Electronica, Rock, Shoe-Gaze and Post-Punk bands. His mother’s interest in 60’s sounds, and his father’s taste in Jazz also helped inform the music he makes today. We caught up with the British vocalist, songwriter and producer to discuss letting go, childhood memories in France and 80s music.
What are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment?
I’m listening to an album called Night Express by Black Disco. I heard it a few days back in a place I was having dinner and it was something that struck a chord with me immediately. Reading James Baldwin “Another Country” which is amazing, very deep and kind of cinematic. I keep picturing it very much like a movie in my head. It’s mind-opening to try and get into the mental state of understanding the protagonists struggle’s with predominantly race, in New York in the 70’s, whilst being entertaining with a very gritty backdrop of New York life, which was so rough and degenerate in that time. It’s one of the first books I believe I’ve read by a black writer which focuses a lot on the race issue, also sexuality, mental health.. Many things. It’s colourful and brilliant.
What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?
For me, throughout my entire 20’s I chose a path of artistic output without compromise and that in itself, at times, has come with numerous hurdles, challenges at the expense of my well-being. I have to believe to some extent that things happen for a reason and to take the best of every situation, in someway turn that energy, that experience, whether it bad or good and convert it in a way that pushes me forward. Being able to release music that I’ve been told by people has had a profound affect on their well being or mental health is a very rewarding concept, which helps me cope myself with such challenges.
What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?
Working on music at home that I’m excited about. Having that rare feeling I get when I’ve been working so hard on music then I go for a walk, absolutely buzzed with my headphones in listening to it ten or twenty times in a row, sitting in the park under the sun. Totally happy with the outcome of something I’ve made and looking forward to sharing it. Being able to go back home and rest on the sofa on a warm evening, after a hot day. A breeze flowing, the patio doors open with the sun falling down through all the leaves. Ha I love nothing more than a peaceful, chill environment.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My family, my close friends, my education and opportunity. It can be hard at times to remember this. I can be very excitable at times, act on impulse, know when I’m doing so and let it slide. It’s so easy today in what are very challenging environments, whether its your work industry, school, relationships or other, to become a little hardened and put yourself first and above, when you see -or- are on the receiving end of others doing so at your expense. I aim, as best I can, to remembering that the world at best, turns from the good we do. The smaller things do count and that gets passed on and perhaps makes someone’s day more than you’d ever realise. So yeah, as I get older, I try to remember to be grateful and remember the little things that can be passed on.
Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”
Ace mental health for me means clarity, calmness and happy in the here and now. As someone who has in the past, especially in my early 20’s and even on occasion slightly now, struggled with mental health, it can be very hard to get into a mind frame of pure simplicity, and to let go of the things that are bothering or hurting you. Of course it’s easier said than done, but sometimes it can feel most natural to dissect and therefore unravel things beyond our control. Like accidentally dropping a roll of twine and struggling to grasp at it whilst it scurries across the ground leaving a trail. It’s hard to stop and check yourself. Putting your mind into a place of ease and look over your situation like an outsider, tactfully and strategically. Or brushing it off. I have always thought too deeply into things and been sensitive to numerous elements socially in this world. That, at times, has sent me into a downward spiral of self-question, anger, depression and at times in the past, thoughts of self-harm. These days I feel blessed to be able to challenge myself to work harder at the letting go of the things I cannot control in my life. A day of that kind of clarity and peace of mind means ace mental health.
What do you eat to stay healthy?
What I put in my body is important to me daily. I’m all about the green juice every morning, I eat meat just not too often. I don’t drink an awful lot, I used to but I hardly drink these days, mostly just on a weekend (a few beers) or on a special occasion. I feel alcohol always had such a negative effect on my flow and creative output which lead to further mental frustrations. I drink water and stay hydrated the best I can, it keeps my head clear.
Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?
Ha you could say I make it up as I go along. I do a lot of walking, from the minute I wake up I leave the house and go do something, whether its just a long walk or to a gallery or something. I have to leave the house before I return and do something creative. I also do yoga at home often which initially began as something I was advised to do for a bad back, which ended up giving me a great sense of well being, got rid of my back pain and regulated my sleeping pattern. Sleep is something I have struggled with at times and it affects every aspect of my day ahead tremendously. I like swimming but don’t do it as often, also running which I find really helps my voice and lungs with singing.
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?
One of my fondest memories is being in France at the chateaux me and my family would stay as a kid. It had a garden much bigger than ours which felt like a field and was so lovely at sunset. It felt like nothing was around for miles, and it wasn’t. We would rest and relax having dinner in the back garden as a family and play games in the back garden. Was peaceful, tranquil and happy.
What three songs lift your spirits?
Three songs. Haha:
Tears For Fears – Head Over Heels
Psychedelic Furs – Love My Way
Stone Roses – She Bangs The Drums
I’m not sure why they’re all 80s! I’m realising I listen to a lot of 80s music to feel very happy and reminds me of home, being young.
What is your favourite self-help book, or motivational quote?
“Never underestimate the pain of a person, because in all honesty, everyone is struggling” This is a quote I’m guilty of forgetting when I’ve been wrapped up in myself but it’s something as I’m getting older I’m remembering more and more.
What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?
Take a breather, take some time out, no qualm is worth your well-being, or mental health. Talk to friends, the people closest to you are always able to offer support.
Operating from the White Hotel, Salford’s underground haven for provocaRead More