MGMB is back with a series of music interviews featuring amazing artists/bands joining me on a mission to support our NHS staff and volunteers caring for COVID-19 patients. If you are able to donate, please do so at the link below this interview. Thank you!
Mike Nelson, known as BANNERS is a musician from Liverpool who has written one of my favourite records of 2019 called Where The Shadow Ends, which I highly recommend for your quarantine playlist. Currently self isolating in his apartment, Mike is working on new music and stays connected to the world through social media by regularly checking in with his fans via No One Knows Mike videos.
I got in touch with him to discuss our NHS, life in quarantine, latest acoustic video, mental health and how we are all in this together.
Thank you so much for doing this interview. The idea is to make a bit of difference in these circumstances and help raise some money for the NHS staff and volunteers caring for COVID-19 patients, as a way of showing our massive appreciation for them and their work.
Of course, it’s my pleasure. My mum worked as a midwife for many years so I appreciate your efforts in raising some money. Let’s hope that ultimately once all of this is done, the government can show their appreciation by funding the National Health Service and all of its workers properly.
How are you adapting to the sudden changes and life in lockdown?
The truth is, it hasn’t really been a sudden change for me! I’d allocated this time specifically for writing new music anyway which is what I’ve been doing, generally over the internet with people that I’d normally write in a room with. I’ve never done that before so it’s kinda nice to find out it’s possible. I feel very fortunate that it’s so easy to keep in touch with my friends and family, otherwise I’d definitely be losing my mind pretty comprehensively! I live on my own and the one thing I’ve noticed is how strange it is to have not touched another human being for the last 5 weeks. I guess we’re all learning a lot about our own mental health and fighting our own personal battles, but I think once we can all get together again the feeling of being close to someone else isn’t something I’m going to take for granted.
You’ve recently put out a video for an acoustic version of Where The Shadow Ends, and I think it kind of fits the mood right now. Do you agree?
Yeah I guess it does fit pretty well. Although I think the idea of going through hard times is something people relate to generally. It’s just that we’re all going through the same hard time at the same time right now. Which is a positive in itself I think. I love the idea of a collective empathy. We’re so often encouraged to believe that we’re different from other people, they think this so they’re bad, we’re from this place so we’re good. Turns out we’re all the same. Who’d have thought it?
Last autumn, you released your debut album which I absolutely love. It’s so uplifting and full of hope. What does it feel like knowing that the record has had such a great impact on people?
It’s the best thing I could imagine. I get lovely messages every day about how this or that song has really helped them and it’s just the best, most humbling thing. When you’re trying to start a career in music, the challenge is so vast and the avenues so infinite that you’re just trying to get anywhere. Then when things get a bit more serious and there’s labels and publishers and all that, you’re just trying to keep your head above water. But once you’ve figured it out a little bit, you get to work out what it is you want to say and how you’d like to make a difference. So now I just want to make people’s day a little bit better. I’m so lucky that I get to do that. I see every Spotify stream or every youtube view as making someone’s day just a tiny bit better. And that makes me really really happy.
I’ve been enjoying your No One Knows Mike videos. It’s a great way of staying connected to your fans right now and the last time you talked about mental health and what helps you during this time. Do you feel it’s a subject that should be raised more often and especially right now?
Yes, absolutely. It seems to me that we’ve come a long way in the last decade about dispelling the stigma about mental health. That to talk about it is somehow a sign of weakness. But there’s a very long way to go. I can’t speak at all from the female point of view and I’m not expert on anything, but from a male point of view, there was always the idea that talking about this stuff makes you less masculine, and that’s lead to very high suicide rates among young men. We use phrases like “be a man” or “man up” “stop acting like a girl” that encourage keeping depression to yourself in a way that doesn’t deal with it. And right now with all being stuck inside and without our natural pressure release valves like seeing our friends or, in my case watching football or playing gigs, it’s more important than ever. I really hope it’s a discussion that happens sooner rather than later with relation to the Coronavirus. We all have mental health in the same way we all have health. Let’s look after them both.
How do you manage to stay inspired creatively at the moment?
That is a bit tough. When you’re not really doing ANYTHING or seeing anyone, it’s hard to have new thoughts that you can make songs out of! I’ve been doing as much exercise as I can and I try to listen to music as much as I can.
If you could quarantine with one musician, who would it be and what would it look like?
It’d have to be someone with a massive house that I could have half of. I wouldn’t really want to be quarantined with anyone in my apartment. It’d also have to be someone whose pretty chilled out. I think I’d have a nice time with Paul Simon. We could just meet up at mealtimes, have a lovely chat about Graceland, maybe he’d accidentally call me Arty and I’d have a quick bash at a harmony, then I’d head back to my half of the house, see him again at dinner time.
What are you looking forward to the most once we return to some kind of normal?
Just a really long hug. I don’t really care off who.
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