The Strength Project #10 ~ James Pollitt...

By Lucy Harbron - 15:06

‘It’s so easy to laugh, it’s so easy to hate, it takes strength to be gentle and kind’

One thing I've noticed while running this project, is that I've really considered the idea of strength a lot more in relation to stranger. I now see pictures of people insta and can't help but consider their opinions and experiences on the matter. So when I began working with James, @monkeys_and_morrissey, for Kiloran, I knew I had to get him involved. I've followed James for ages and always considered him a strangely elusive figure as for a long time he was faceless on insta, and now his profile stands as a collage of his own writings along with the multitude of projects he's involved with. I chatted to him about the issue of strength, mental health and art...

What does strength mean to you?

To me, strength, is mental strength, the ability to overcome hardship, turmoil, or tragedy in any way that you can, whilst maintaining your morals, core values and ideals. It’s the way in which you conduct yourself, perhaps treating others with respect when they show you none, etc…

Can you tell me about a time when strength was evident in your life?

I feel like at this point it’s important that I talk about something important. Around 18 months ago, I was, unexpectedly, the first respondent at the suicide of a lady in my town.  It is something that was deeply traumatic for me, and something that has taken a lot of strength to overcome. For me, the hardest part of it all was admitting that I needed help, both professionally, and from my friends and family.

Do you think writing makes you strong, or does it take strength to be a writer?

Writing, for me, acts as an outlet that allows me to convey my emotions and feelings, without having to talk to others, like a diary I suppose. The strength, however, comes when sharing my writing; I tend to worry a little bit about what people will think about it, how they will react, etc.

Is having an outlet like your writing/social media presence is vital for your strength?

I’d say that they both act as an escape from the real word, yeah, and although I’d say I’m not strong for this, I do try and talk about things that need to be talked about, for example egalitarianism, beauty standards, gender roles and ideals, politics, etc… When I do talk about these things, I know that a lot of people dismiss me as pretentious, egotistical or self-absorbed, (and I probably get more critics than anything from these discussions) I’d like to think that I’m nice enough to be honest. People from my town don’t really ‘get’ the whole instagram thing and I know plenty of people rip on me for it, but it’s important to me. Also, the fact that there are six and a half thousand people, who to some degree, care about my life, (at least enough to keep up to date with it) does probably help stroke my ego a little after a hard day.

Some of your writing is super emotive and open almost to the point of vulnerability, as well as your work for the mental health awareness project yellow4change; Do you think art help change the way the public perceive what strength is?

I try to be myself as much as possible in my writing, I’m quite a shy, vulnerable person and I think that comes through a little. Most of my songs/lyricals are soppy love songs, I was a bit unlucky in love, struggled with the way I looked, and that sort of influences my writing I guess, also the songwriters who influence me, show their vulnerability, lyrically, (people like Morrissey, Frank Ocean, Alex Turner, and more recently, people like Zach Lount from King No-One, and Joe Harvey from Clay) I think everyone can relate to being a bit vulnerable, and that’s something I want to do too, to be honest.

Yellow4Change is such an important project, Millie Smith is a true darling for setting it up. Music is something that is part of everyone’s life, and that’s what makes it so accessible. With the rising number of mental health cases, and the continued lack of funding to treat such cases, it is clear that people need to understand the strength of those suffering from mental illnesses, but at the same time realise that we all need to be stronger, together. Personally, I see it as a way for charities that work with the NHS, to be there for more people.  After the suicide, I couldn’t get a GP’s appointment for around 4 months because the NHS simply didn’t have the resources available to see me, but when I did, it helped me so, so much; everyone needs that when they’re struggling. Plus, like, it’s such a class way to get people to hear some bands that maybe they wouldn’t have otherwise. So working in tandem, music and MIND charity, I think we can help more people…

Does having such a strong online following help your strength or put pressure on it?

To be honest, I don’t even know if I have a strong online following, I just post about my life and my mates, the music that I like and the views that I have. But, understanding that I have some form of a platform for my ideas, I do feel slightly pressured to do something good, or at least worthwhile. Setting up Telus Promotion to help bands spread their word, and working with Yellow4Change, are just two of the things I have planned for this year. Obviously, I will be using it to strengthen my own musical ambitions with Soseity, and I suppose, in a good way, I feel pressured to make our first few releases perfect, because I release the amount of people looking on.

For a long time you didnt show your face on Instagram, what was the reason for that? And do you think social media and the vanity involved is affecting the strength of our generation?

Yeah, so, when I set up my ‘monkey and morrissey’ instagram account, I was feeling a bit disconnected from the world around me, I was still a bit unsure of myself and I wanted to see if people would still want to know me, regardless of my appearance. At the same time, I wanted to tackle beauty standards, with Kardashian (amongst others) influenced normalisation of plastic surgery, I saw how people around me were becoming so concerned with their appearance. I wanted to change that. Outer beauty is something that is so perceptual and relative, that it’s mad to think that somebody would ever want to change their appearance, everybody is beautiful to somebody, or at least that's what I think. So, anyway, I saw this quote, by Leo Tolstoy, ‘it is amazing how complete is the delusion, that beauty is goodness’ and so I thought I’d see if I was able to connect with people who were unaware of my appearance, some people thought it was ‘catfishing’, some thought it was pretentious, but seeing the people who I became friends with form their own image of me through the way I spoke, and the way I dressed, the music I like and the views that I held, was proper interesting, so I kept it up for a year, tackling standards and issues. People perceive beauty as central to who we are, but it’s not, it’s simply a fictitious idea, I take strength from my internal ‘beauty’, and that’s how I hope everyone can be someday.

When do you feel strongest?

I probably feel strongest, in this spot up near my house, it’s in the hills, away from anything or anyone, I go up there to write, to drink, to get away, it’s like my hiding place, ironic I guess that I feel strongest when I’m hiding…

Could you sum up strength in three words for me?

‘Being yourself, always…’


James' band Soseity is set to release their debut track soon, but in the meantime you can read some of his work in the upcoming issue of Kiloran released 11/2/17, or on their tumblr. Also make sure to follow Yellow4Change (@yellow4change) as it's such a great project for an even greater cause.

Find James-

His Instagram - @monkeys_and_morrissey
His Band's Instagram -
His promotion company - @teluspromotion

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