Example talks Twitter, mental health, and performing standup

Example – real name Elliot Gleave – has gone from playing football on Clapham Common to performing at South West Four Festival there. And he's even found time to release an acclaimed new mixtape...  

You’re from Fulham, right? Must be a buzz performing so close to your roots…

Well I used to play football on Clapham Common as a kid (badly!). This is my fifth time at SW4 now so I feel like part of the furniture. Actually sixth if you include back when it was Get Loaded In The Park

Is it true that ‘Example’ is due to your initials being EG? How many people guess that…?

Everyone knows this now surely? It's first thing mentioned on my Wikipedia. In fact I think a lot of people thought it was quite a rubbish name until the initials thing was explained to them lol.

Apparently your first rap battle was aged 12 at a house party in Shepherd's Bush? Can you remember any of the flow?

Haven't got a clue. I can remember lyrics from when I was 16 but not 12.

You were diagnosed with Asperger's when younger – have you encountered many misconceptions about the condition?

No, it was mild autism. But this is the problem. People confuse autism with Aspergers with ADHD with OCD... I think it's impossible and unfair to classify any one human being with just one disorder. All human beings are different and carry elements of all the above. No one is perfect. And I think in some cases these "disorders" should be cherished rather than disparaged.

Your song Girl Can’t Dance imparted some salient life advice – do you have any more knowledge to share?

That song was 2009! I was dating a girl whose movements on the dancefloor reflected her rhythm in the bedroom. It was a bit of fun. I never named her. Maybe it doesn't apply to everyone.

Any worries the rise of social media, and the decline of the club scene, means that soon nobody will be able to dance?

There are certainly more people dancing on Instagram now than in the clubs. It seems that way. As long as music always exists we're fine. Trends and scenes come and go.

Did you have a moment in your career when you thought, “shit, I’ve arrived”?

Just after Kickstarts came out. I was getting heard in other countries for the first time. And random idiots from school got back in touch. I think that says it all really.

You’ve spoken in the past about taking therapy – how beneficial was that for you? Do you think men tend to be open enough about their mental health?

No they don't. But it's getting better. If you are honest and open with your friends and family, I mean, really honest, then you don't necessarily need therapy. You only need one or two good friends around you to help you get through stuff. Speaking from personal experience

Was it difficult to step away from the hedonistic, ‘rock star’ lifestyle? Especially when presumably so much of it – women, drugs, etc – must be thrust on you: you don’t even need to go looking for it?

Well I still party. I just pick and choose my moments a lot better. It's a lot easier when you have an amazing woman by your side

Doing stand up in front of 500 people was scarier and more thrilling and fulfilling than headlining a festival

Your Twitter game is strong – who's funnier on it, you or James Blunt?

No one is funnier than Blunty.

More serious question: do you think there’s a danger of the trolls taking over the platform? (One of them is the US President, after all.)

I only had three negative comments last week when my mixtape came out. Thousands of positive ones. I think we're safe... for now.

At the time of writing, your new mixtape Bangers & Ballads drops at midnight – what can people expect from it?

It's been out five days now and fans are saying it's my best work yet. A lot of these songs were singles that were turned down by my last label for whatever reason. Part of putting out this mixtape/album was just so fans could hear these songs that were blocked for a year or two.

As a body of work from start to finish I think it's consistent, well-paced and sounds fresh compared to most of the other stuff out there today in the pop/house/garage genre. 'Show Me How To Love' is being particularly well-received.

Which do you prefer: banger or ballad?

Bangers all day! Surely you've seen my live shows. It's pandemonium

Watched the YouTube video of you doing stand-up – you’re pretty good! Ever been tempted to go back? At least you can embarrass the kids with some great Dad jokes...

Honestly those few stand up gigs I did were the most exhilarating of my life. Even doing stand up in front of 500 people was scarier and more thrilling and fulfilling than headlining a festival to 50,000 people! It's just you and a mic. No band. No backing track. No strobe lights.

Example plays SW4 Festival on Saturday 26 August. Bangers & Ballads is out now.