James Blake says his mental health spiralled while he was trying to maintain a "cool" stage persona.

James Blake (c) Josh Stadlen

James Blake (c) Josh Stadlen

The 'Retrograde' singer has opened up about how he suffered from social anxiety in his real life in the past, and wasn't "great to talk to at the time", all while trying to be the "coolest version" of himself "possible".

Speaking to Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 in an interview with airs this Sunday (10.10.21) in observance of World Mental Health Day, James shared: "And so, the chasm between the person that you're presenting as your personality to the public, and the person you really are when the mic is off, and you go home, and you've got to deal with your own problems, becomes grander and grander.

"And it's just like for me, the thing was, the difference between my musical, cool, doing loads of collabs, and producing blah, blah, blah, and doing dub, electronic music, and good reviews, and all that stuff, and me just spiralling ... and actually not being that great to talk to at the time, and not really having anything to say, and just having loads of social anxiety, but then going on stage and just being the coolest version of myself possible.

"And you're rewarded financially for that in a lot of cases. I think it's Pavlovian. It's like the more you get the treat, the more you return to that behaviour. I think the answer for me, was to decide that I was okay with not getting the treat, and that I would decide to stop pretending that I was like, whatever part of me it was that was saying, okay, I need to appear this way to be as perfect as the kids at school thought I wasn't, or I'm going to be cooler than... Whatever."

The 33-year-old songwriter - who is in a relationship with actress Jameela Jamil - went through a period of doing "the worst things" for his mental health, such as drinking too much alcohol, overeating, and not exercising, as he spoke of the importance of taking control of the things that are bad for you.

James - who has just released his fifth studio album 'Friends That Break Your Heart' - said: "Essentially, in all of these ways that I found myself living, I was shutting off how I digest. I wasn't exercising.

"I was eating every day. I was letting... There was all sorts of situations in my life that I was letting continue that I was anxious about all the time.

"Drinking a lot. Sugar, 24/7. Run, run, run, run, run. If you don't... I was setting up a situation... I was just doing circles of the worst things you can do for your mental health.

"And then I was surprised that I didn't feel very good in the morning and it's like, we do have control even if there are some things that are going to affect us forever, maybe.

"But I do think when we diagnose ourselves as mentally ill or we diagnose ourselves in whatever way, we mustn't let that be a prison or a definition of us that allows ... that essentially stops us from investigating ways we could feel better."

Watch the interview in full at apple.co/-jamesblake this weekend.


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