To Write Love On Her Arms has been a staple in the scene since I can remember; t-shirts, bracelets, sweatshirts, all a quiet signal to other people finding comfort in music that they’re not alone. The original story was posted to Myspace in 2006, taking readers through a friend’s recovery through music and hope.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with TWLOHA’s Director of Outreach & Experience, Chad Moses at Firefly to chat about what it means to be a part of such a pillar of the alternative music scene.
Soundigest: Before we start, I just wanted to thank you so much for bringing this here and shout out your team its been prominent in the music scene for so long and it’s awesome to see you guys still here and being part of all of this.
Chad Moses: Have you seen us at other events before?
SD: I’ve seen To Write Love On Her Arms around my whole life, always on shirts and other things and I’ve definitely seen the setup at Warped Tour’s past so it’s awesome to be at a different kind of festival.
As much as TWLOHA is a non profit organization, it’s also a cultural calling card for alternative music. How did you find yourself in that space and how do you keep the momentum going for 16 years?
CM: Wow, yeah, let’s start at the very beginning. We are a non profit, we exist to present hope and find help for anyone struggling with mental health challenges; things like depression, addiction, self injury & suicide. We do that by trying to build bridges through different ways of encouraging, inspiring, informing, and also investing financially into treatment and recovery, but the name came from a story and that story came from a journey with a friend. The story was about her first five days in recovery from cocaine addiction and finding help with self injury all through the context of community. If you go back to the earliest parts of the story, the first words of the story are actually the name of a band, Pedro the Lion, so music has literally been part of our journey from the first letters of the first word of the story that started all of this. From there it’s really been a question not so much of marketing, but of communal interest; we want to be where people naturally come together. Whether that’s online or at a high school or at a college or at a music festival, this is one of about 50 different live music and lifestyle events that we’re at this year and your question – I’m sorry it’s been so long winded up till this point – but you said why do we come to places like this? Well I want to flip that around, why do you come to places like this? We’re here because people are here for a context. There’s just as many people here celebrating this as a treat as there are people celebrating this or observing this as a retreat; trying to make sense of their lives. So we want to be where people are and we want to be in a place that makes it so easy to access other people, to access bits of yourself that maybe have been buried for a bit, but we’re here because we can’t imagine another place that we’d rather be.
SD: This activation is incredible, can you describe it a little bit?
CM: Yeah, so September is suicide prevention month and all month long we’ve really been honing in on a statement that is “you are not a burden.” The idea is that burdens are things that you have, they’re not something you are and admittedly it is still easy to get that twisted, so easy to get that confused, but it’s equally important to get that differentiated. So what we’re doing in this space and at a bunch of other festivals throughout the season are giving you the space to unpack; to write down some of the things that you’ve been carrying and also to write down some of the factors in your life that make the heavy parts a bit more manageable.
SD: Where will you be activating next?
CM: I’ll be joining a team down in Charlotte, NC for Breakaway festival. As we speak, right now, we have a team in Louisville, KY for Louder Than Life which is a metal and rock festival. We have a team at Furnace Fest in Burmingham, which is like an old school punk and hardcore show, and then we also have a team in our backyard in Melbourne, Florida for a local pride event; so we’re traveling all over. We hit Breakaway and then we hit Aftershock in CA, another Breakaway show in CA, and then we get to sleep a little bit, but it’s been a busy busy year.
SD: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
CM: I’d say to anyone reading, to anyone tracking with this, we’re not here to convince you that life can’t be hard. When we say you’re not a burden it’s an invitation, join us whenever it feels right to believe that. We’re not trying to talk you out of pain, we’re not trying to bathe your journey in toxic positivity; it’s okay to not be okay, but at no point are you expected to get through this alone. I would say that for the people that do feel like burdens, if you were to flip that coin, if you had a friend of a loved one come to you and ask if you could help them, I imagine you would drop everything to carry a friend through a hard time, so just wanting that to be reflective; there are people that can carry you through what you’re going through, there are places that stand at the ready to meet you where you are and we invite you to check out some of those on our website. You can visit us at youarenotaburden.com or TWLOHA.com.