Interview with a Gut Feelings co-founder.
1. Do you actively do anything to keep your brain healthy, and if so what?
Yes. I do a lot of crosswords. I also read and try to hang out with people who are smarter than me and will make my mind stretch and grow. I worry that leaving school early has put my brain at a disadvantage so I do as much as I can for it to compensate.
2. What or who mentally stimulates your growth the most?
Reading books, without a doubt, and travelling.
3. If you could add or take away anything from your brain what would it be?
I would add the ability to see a couple more colours, it’s frustrating to know that so many more exist and I can’t see them. I would take a bit, but not all, of my fear away, taking all of it away would mean I’d end up doing stupid shit and dying too young. You need a healthy dose of fear; I just am slightly overdosing on it most of the time.
4. In what situations have you learned the most about yourself?
Break ups, and working in shitty situations where I’ve pushed my body to it’s limits.
5. Do you think you have to learn good judgement? (Are people inherently self destructive?)
Yes, I think good judgement is learned. Part of it is learned as a species from the beginning of time and part of it you start learning the second you’re born. We learn it in massive and in microscopic ways every day. I think even when you have a “gut feeling” about someone you are picking up on tiny cues from them that you are aware of on a subconscious level from previous experiences. People are absolutely not inherently self destructive, very much the opposite. I think self destructiveness is something you have to learn as well, and nobody is as self destructive as they think they are. Because just the fact that they are alive and able to have that thought means there is an element of survival instinct in them, something that made them look both ways before crossing the road even if they did spend the rest of the day drowning in whiskey and smack. It’s hard wired in to everybody to survive, and you have to really be in a lot of pain to fight against that.
6. Do you have any daily or annual rituals? Are they personal to you or your family or are they related to your culture or religion?
I have OCD so every day is taken over with rituals. I do wonder what part of a human it satisfies to have rituals since so many people find a way to have them, from religion to OCD.
7. Can you speak any other languages, and if so why that language?
I can’t speak anything fluently; tiny bits of Swedish from having Swedish friends and exes. I would love to be able to speak another language fluently though, I feel like our entire country should be ashamed for how overwhelmingly monolingual it’s inhabitants are.
8. If you could live inside of a book, which one would it be?
The lion, the witch and the wardrobe. I spent half my childhood standing inside wardrobes trying to get to Narnia.
9. Are there particular books you find yourself buying for or lending to people close to you?
Mister God This is Anna by Fynn, My Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl, All my friends are superheroes by Andrew Kaufmann, and Up In The Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell. I use book lending and gifting as a way of courting new friends and lovers.
10. Is it more important for you to speak or to be heard?
There are some words and sentences that are inside my mouth and need to be spilled out and it doesn’t matter if anybody picks them up, but most of the time it is more important that I am heard.
11. Do you think a time exists that is easiest to create? For instance, do you strike the muse or does the muse strike you?
Before I had the internet and a day job it was 3 am. Now it is anytime I am on a train journey (without Wi-Fi), the lack of available distraction and the movement make it easier for me to write. The muse strikes me for sure but I am attempting, with routine, to cultivate a relationship where I get to control her a bit more than she controls me.
12. Do you have an emotional state that you find it easier to create in?
Obsessive affection and rejection, I guess you can call that an emotional state? If I’m crazy about a boy who doesn’t seem to care for me that is the absolute best state for me to create in; art to make you love me haha. I do wonder how much I chase that feeling though in a way that is very unhealthy for every other part of my psyche.
13. Are there certain elements that you employ to set up the perfect mental space for creating? For example: Music/Food/Smells/Locations
I’ve been introducing my own rituals in an attempt to create a kind of Pavlovian response. I burn palo santo and wrap my hair in a red headscarf, when I remember to, in the hopes that just the smell of palo santo or the putting on of that scarf will make me feel more creative in the future. I drink lots of coffee too.
14. What smells do you most associate with your childhood?
Nag Champa incense. The hash my parents smoked. My cousins house whose smell I can’t describe at all, but was at least in part beef wellington and washing powder. Burnt fish fingers for tea. The Body Shop White Musk perfume that my mum’s best friend Louise wore. Kindling, the smoke from our fire, and sawdust. Damp mulchy leaves in the forest by our house.
15. If you could only live on five ingredients for the rest of the life, what would they be?
Avocado, goats milk (I’d make cheese and yoghurt and butter), chicken (or duck, I can’t decide), blackberries and salt.
16. Do you have spiritual needs and if so how do you nourish them?
Yes, I pray (I say thank you at the stars on clear nights) and go out into nature.
17. Do you have a place you go to, either physically or mentally, where you feel the most at peace?
Physically; the woods that I grew up near, especially in the churchyard there or by any bodies of water. Mentally; to a goat farm I worked on in Devon. Milking, grooming and hanging out with the goats made me incredibly happy.
18. Do you think that people need some form of discomfort to make art?
I tried to imagine somebody without any discomfort in their life to answer this question, I couldn’t picture such a person existing. I think about this question a lot and I still haven’t figured out an answer. I personally often need some form of discomfort, even if that discomfort is from my happiness being so big that my body cannot contain it.
19. Do you ever experience your emotions in physical ways? If so, how?
When I am angry I feel like I can feel all the molecules in my body turning red and rubbing against each other really fast. When I am sad my nose gets cold. When I am happy I can feel it in my solar plexus and when I am very happy my body feels too small to contain the feeling and its like it wants to come out of the ends of my fingertips and I need to shake or dance or shout or something to get it all out.
20. What is your least favourite physical sensation?
Really bad toothache. Last time I had it I started googling Dignitas,
21. What is your favourite physical sensation?
That moment during really good sex where you lose any idea of your form, you don’t know where the edges of your body stop and everything else begins. You don’t know if you’re moss or wooden blocks or one human or two or a puddle of melted ice cream.
22. Do you think a person has to understand art in order to be able to appreciate it?
Fuck no. There are so many different ways of connecting with art without having to understand it on any kind of literal or cerebral level.
23. Do you pick up on/connect more to the lyrics or music in songs?
The lyrics. I can hear the music alone of my favourite songs sometimes and not realise what it is because the important words are missing.
24. What is your earliest memory?
Being dressed up as Ganesha (the Hindu elephant God) and dancing around in a circle holding incense with a bunch of other kids dressed up as Ganesha at Womad festival. Also, from that festival, watching Nanci Griffiths and being excited by all of the stage lights.
25. If you got alzheimers or dementia what memory or memories would you be saddest to lose – or – which ones would cause the biggest loss of your personal identity?
Forgetting who my mum and brothers are. I feel like forgetting who my family are would also cause the biggest loss of my personal identity.
26. Do you expect happiness in your life?
I think I do, but I freak out and feel like things are wrong when I have it for too long.
27. Do you feel like falling in love is a spiritual or mental/chemical process?
I want it to be spiritual and mental but I feel rationally like it is more chemical, in which case my ability to feel it is impaired by taking SSRIs and my ability to receive it is vastly impaired if I don’t take them,
28. Do you try and avoid feeling negative emotions or do you feel it is more constructive to experience your emotions fully?
I throw myself with far too much abandon into the arms of negative emotions.
29. What do you think your ex partners would say the hardest thing about loving you was?
In my early 20s it was my constant need for reassurance that they did indeed love me, and then still refusing to believe that. I don’t know about more recent exes, they were both long distance relationships and neither of them have completed my customer feedback forms as of yet.
30. What are your biggest fears?
Death. My own, and that of the people I love.
31.Do you have any recurring dreams or nightmares? If so, what do you think they mean?
Crashing cars through not knowing where the brakes are, these happened before I lost anyone to a road traffic accident too. I’ve also had three dreams where I died, and I remember what being dead felt like. I have no idea what they meant, but I did have a dream once where I married a bumble bee and since then I’ve been convinced I will marry someone whose first or last name begins with B.
32. If you have ever taken psychedelic drugs, did you have any interesting hallucinations on them? Do you feel changed from having taken them?
I’ve never taken them, but I used to hallucinate anyway when I was a kid.
33. Do you find your mood affected by different colour palettes?
Massively so. My mood can be so improved by bright primary colours that even though family guy is shit and not funny I will still sometimes watch it because of the colours. Part of what made me fall in love with LA was the colour palate; pink bougainvillea, blue skies, green palm trees and golden light.
34. If you could live in a world where the aesthetic was controlled by a particular visual artist or film director, who would you choose?
Todd Haynes, who directed I’m not there and Velvet Goldmine, and Edward Lachman who did the cinematography for I’m not there and The Virgin Suicides.. I’m not there is the most visually beautiful film. I love all the yellow tones in the Richard Gere scenes and the cinematic crispness of the black and white in Cate Blanchett’s scenes.
35. What’s the most unbelievable thing you’ve ever seen?
A chicken smiling, which I suspect must be a false memory. And a massive fireball I saw when I was ten with my best friend Adam. I thought that was a false memory for years too until I reconnected with Adam who had also thought it was a false memory until I confirmed it. Oh and the Aurora Borealis when I was working in Lapland a few years ago, that felt totally unreal. It was like being in a dream.
36. Have you ever seen something which you feel has directly resulted in certain elements of your personality today?
I think violence I witnessed when I was younger has resulted in me having a bit of a saviour complex.
37.Would you rather lose your sight or your hearing?
Sight. I’m too controlled by beauty, I wouldn’t mind some freedom from that.
38. Do you feel like you surround yourself with the people who see you for who you really are?
I do my best to. It’s hard to know when i am still not 100% sure who I really am. It’s so much more palatable to believe that the people that think the best of you are the ones who see you for who you are but I wonder about the uglier reflections that people I know have reflected back to me. I can’t be made of entirely good things.