Interview with Awakenings Foundation – making visible the creative expression of survivors of sexual violence.

 

bBxh6LlY

 

I am honoured to bring you an interview with a foundation that has helped me personally and many others around the world. 

 

The Awakenings Foundation is a private operating foundation dedicated to making visible the creative expression of survivors of sexual violence. We bring our mission to life by offering a wide variety of programming year round, ranging from performances, to exhibit openings, to panel discussions. The Awakenings Foundation also administers a grants program called the Judith Dawn Memorial Fund for the Arts. JDMF was created to provide funds and recognition for sexual violence survivors who wish to pursue the arts in support of their healing.
 
I can’t say the Awakening Foundation was the first to come up with the idea of using art as an expression for survivors. I think it’s a very intrinsic feeling to want to heal oneself through creative means, and people do it everyday. What I can say is that our founder, Jean Cozier, saw what no one else has before and wanted to create a space dedicated solely for survivors in the arts. Being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, she was able to see how important it is to give survivors a creative space to tell their stories and to be believed. This year we celebrated six years in our gallery space in the Chicago neighborhood of Ravenswood.
 
The work shown at Awakenings Foundation is art as therapy rather than art therapy, and the difference becomes very apparent when you see the work. We exhibit work made by artists who are also survivors, rather than by survivors who produce the art in a clinical counseling session. These are works of art made with skill and decision. Time and time again I’ve had artists tell me that exhibiting their artwork here is just as healing and empowering as when they created the work. For that reason it’s important for us to be able to maintain a safe and trauma-informed space that not only supports survivors, but also the idea that others can and should leave with a better understanding of what it’s like to experience sexual violence. For survivors to be heard, and most importantly believed, is an incredibly powerful component in their healing.  Until an artist sees the work in front of them they don’t always completely understand elements of their trauma. Something changes when you’re able to put your experiences in front of you to see more clearly, instead of just holding it inside. Both art as therapy and therapy are ways of confronting, processing, and healing. I am not a professional, so I really can’t say one is more beneficial than the other, but I do know many folks who find both to be helpful.
 
We know there is no one particular way to heal which is why we’re so dedicated to providing a plethora of programs for survivors and those who care about them. The previously mentioned JDMF has bi-annual application with funding up to $2,500 each cycle for survivors who are looking to fund a creative endeavor. We’ve awarded funds to artists for almost any creative project you can think of, from dance to woodworking, sewing classes to photography. It really is all about the healing and what a creative expression can do to further that in someone. I wish I could tell you that our program is open to anyone anywhere but we’re currently only accepting applications from the Chicago-land area, which is mostly due to the fact that we have limited funding and staff resources.
 
If you’re bummed to find out you’re not within our application range, don’t be too upset because there are plenty of ways to get involved with us. It may not include funding, but we also publish a quarterly Literary Magazine called Awakened Voices.  You can either submit your own work about healing, or respond to calls for our upcoming issues. Another way you can get involved if you’re not in the Chicago-land area is to participate in our Our Postcard Project. This unique call for art is one that anyone can respond to by using a postcard as a canvas for their healing from any type of trauma, sexual and nonsexual alike. When we collect enough we’ll exhibit them. You can check out some of the postcards we’ve received so far.  They really are incredible.
 
We try to reach out to those who are beyond our physical location as often as we can because we know there are survivors everywhere wanting to tell their stories. Anyone who experiences sexual violence, women, men, non-binary folks alike, can and are encouraged to get involved. For those who are located nearby we’ve been able to create programs that showcase their talents and stories within the walls of our gallery. There’s little we won’t say no to when it comes to providing the stage from which a survivor can be heard. From multimedia performances, to dance, even hosting workshops, and panels.  For me personally, it’s a dream come true to administer such a healing space. While it is rewarding, it’s not always easy and there have been plenty of times when I’ve had to step away for a deep breath to center myself. Folks are able to release a lot of emotion and history when they are here and for me it’s an interesting perspective to witness. Here we are actively cheering on those who need a creative outlet for their deepest, darkest troubles. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.
Basically, we have as much going on as our team of three can make happen and we’re so excited to bring you more programs every month. If you’re unable to get involved in our programs but still want to support survivors, you can go to our website and make a donation that directly funds our programs and administration.  Be sure to check out our facebook to see photos from all of our programs held in April to honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month!

 

Thank you so much to Awakenings Foundation for giving me the opportunity to give them some exposure and thank them personally for the help they have provided me and many other survivors.

Please visit and donate if you can! http://www.awakeningsfoundation.net/

 

Other useful links:

http://rapecrisis.org.uk/

Electro Goth Punk: Calling All Astronauts

IMG_2845.JPG

 

I recently got the opportunity to interview London based politically-charged Electro Goth Punk band ‘Calling All Astronauts’about their recent album ‘Anti-Social Network’ and ask them a few questions about their music style and influences.

Your latest album ‘Anti-Social Network’ was released last month, do you think that this could be the album that grabs people’s attention?

“We live in hope, we believe we’ve made a great album, but let’s be honest, we are a DIY band, we are very lucky to get so much support from both radio and blogs, but we don’t have any marketing budget whatsoever. So if it is embraced by the mainstream, it will just be luck”

Who or what has influenced your music the most?

“We take influence from everywhere, I always say every piece of music you ever listen to influences you in some way. We do as a band take a lot of influences from late 70’s and 80’s alternative acts, but then we try and make it sound more modern, hopefully we manage it!”

Do you have one word that you use to describe your music?

“Unpredictable!”

I see you played Kendal Calling in 2013, how was that?

“It was really awesome! I looked out and I could see who books the festival watching us. I looked to my left and Tim Burgess from The Charlatans was stood at the side of the stage watching us too. We had a great day, though the drive from London was a long one!”

You have very strong political views, do you think music is a great platform to get your views across to people?

“Definitely! I wouldn’t say I’m political as much as socio-political, I have no real allegiance to any of our current political parties, I’m more concerned with social injustice, poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia being eradicated from society. If by people listening to my lyrics, I can make them consider what is going on, I think I’m winning. We live in a society, in which more people seem to care if a reality star gets her figure back following childbirth, than care that children are dying in Africa due to lack of clean drinking water, how can that be right?”

If you could work with any band or artist, who would it be?

“J would like to guest on a KISS record, Paul would love to work with Jerry Cantrell (Alice In Chains) and Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) and David would love to co-produce with Skrillex”

I mentioned Kendal Calling earlier, are you playing any festivals or shows this year?

“We hope to, although it’s now getting a bit late to get onto the bill this summer. We have started working on the new live set incorporating lots of the new album, and reprogramming some of our debut album as well”

What do you have planned for the next year or so? New album or single maybe?

Our next single “Time to Fight Back” is out at the start of June, it will also include a version of the Stooges “I Wanna Be Your Dog”. There will also be several more singles and remixes over the next 12 months and we have also started writing the next album!”

 

IMG_2599.JPG

Thank you so much to Calling All Astronauts for giving me the opportunity to interview them, I really appreciate it!

 

Check out Calling All Astronauts HERE:

SPOTIFY

iTunes

Amazon

Exclusive Promo CD

YouTube

 

Lindsey Thompson

Interview with Chin Up, Kid

ZtcQdCle

 

Chin Up, Kid are a pop punk band from Indianapolis who formed in 2013. I recently got the chance to interview them,  I’ve been a fan of Chin Up, Kid for a few years so it was an honor. I discovered them through my obsession with A Day To Remember a few years a go.

They released their latest album ‘The Way You Live Is Common’ last month.

I interviewed the band and got to know them a little better….

Firstly, introduce yourselves! Who’s in the band and who plays what?

Ben is the vocalist, Cheyenne is the rhythm guitarist/backing vocalist, Michael is the lead guitarist, Will is the bassist/backing vocalist and Davey is the drummer/backing vocalist.

What is the meaning/ how did you come up with the band name?

Chin Up, Kid came about because we wanted to write positive and influential music for people.

When did you form?

We formed March 3, 2013.

You released your 2016 album ‘The Way You Live Is Common’ (which is an awesome album by the way!) for free for a short time. I think that’s a pretty cool thing to do for your fans, what was the reasoning behind it?

We spent over a year perfecting this album and just wanted to give it away to make up for that wait. We just want our music in as many hands as we can get them in.

Do you have any plans for the next album yet?

We have talked about writing a new album but at this point we just want to play out and get some touring under our belt.

Who or what has influenced your music the most?

We have many influences individually. As a band though we have the same influence in pop punk bands such as New Found Glory and Sum 41.

I think you guys are going to get very big very quickly, who would you love to tour with?

We would love to tour with so many! Four Year Strong, The Story So Far, State Champs. New Found Glory, the list goes on!

If you could work with a band/artist on a record, who would it be?

Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory, we are currently in the warped tour contest with hopes of winning to record with him.

Are you playing any shows or festivals soon?

Our next show is our last hometown show for awhile. It’s April 15th at The Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, IN.

What do you have planned for the next year or so?

Tour, tour and more tour! with a couple of music videos thrown in there.

Do you guys have any plans to come to the UK? 

As of now we don’t but that would be really sweet! We would totally come there!

Where can people check out your music?

We are on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Apple Music, Bandcamp and more!

 

Thank you so much to Chin Up, Kid for giving me the opportunity to interview them, it was awesome and I wish the guys all the luck in the world. Please check out their album The Way You Live Is Common.

You can also find Chin Up, Kid here..

Facebook.com/ChinUpKidIN

chinupkid.bandcamp.com

twitter.com/ChinUpKidIN

Lindsey Thompson

SPOTLIGHT: Sorority Noise

0002880968_10

 

Sorority Noise are a band from Hartford, Connecticut consisting of;

Cameron Boucher – guitar/vocals

Ryan McKenna – bass/vocals

Adam Ackerman – guitar/vocals

Charlie Singer- drums

Vocalist/Guitarist Cameron’s lyrics focus on his experience with addiction and depression, which is strangely what attracted me to them in the first place. There’s something inviting about hearing someone sing about their struggles, maybe it’s because it’s easy to relate to. Their most recent album ‘Joy, Departed’ is brilliant, I felt so at ease and happy listening to it.

I’m so excited for their EP ‘It Kindly Stopped For Me’ which is released April 22nd!

a3999006481_10

For fans of: The Wonder Years

Highlights: Using and When I See You (from Joy, Departed)

 

Elvis Presley Top 10

The King of Rock n Roll, The King,just a few words used to describe Elvis Presley. He is the best selling solo artist of all time, with estimated record sales of around 600 million records worldwide.

I’m a fan girl, so I thought I’d list my top 10 songs by The King himself.

 

10. Love Letters from the 1971 album ‘Love Letters from Elvis’

love-letters-from-elvis-4ef22575e0d61.JPG

_____________________________________________________

9. Moody Blue from the 1977 album ‘Moody Blue’

414003b.jpg

______________________________________________________

 

8. It’s Easy For You from the 1977 album ‘Moody Blue’

414003b

______________________________________________________

7. There’s Always Me from the album ‘Something for Everybody’

presley051

________________________________________________________________

6. If You Talk In Your Sleep from the 1975 album ‘Promised Land’

Elvis_Presley_Promised_Land

____________________________________________________________

5. Are You Sincere from the 1973 album ‘Raised On Rock, For Ol’ Times Sake’

129824684.0H2f7mMR.51lrQTZNnfL.jpg

____________________________________________________________

4. Take Good Care Of Her from the 1974 album ‘Good Times’

good_times.jpg

_________________________________________________________________

3. And I love You so from the 1975 album ‘Today’

ep-elvis-today-front

2. Are You Lonesome Tonight? from the Album Are You Lonesome Tonight

Elvis-Presley-Are-You-Lonesome-369382

___________________________________________________

1. Always On My Mind from the album Burning Love

elvis_presley-burning_love_s_5.jpg

 

 

By Lindsey Thompson

REVIEW – BABYMETAL – Metal Resistance

Babymetal_cover

BABYMETAL are a group of Japanese school girls who burst onto the scene internationally a few years ago with the release of their first album (self titled). Their interesting blend of fast, crunching metal music with ‘idol’ style vocals (very clean polished Japanese language vocals seemingly exclusively performed by young girls) polarized opinion wildly, although their popularity has soared (just recently headlining the prestigious Wembley arena) many (including myself) still question whether their wild stage productions, choreographed dance routines and polished image where all just evidence that this is simply style over substance. Would their second release ‘Metal Resistance’ silence the critics?

Well I’ll start with my only real criticism, Listening to this from start to finish can prove to be something of an endurance test. Clocking in at 54 mins the blend of lighting fast very technical metal with lyrics 99% of people reading this won’t understand will prove testing. As brilliantly played and sang as this album is it is much like the musical equivalent of eating too many sweets by the time you reach it’s climax.

That said it is still well worth persevering with. Opening promisingly with the relentless title track (featuring members of Dragonforce) Metal Resistance very much starts as it means to go on. Second track and first single KARATE is an absolute beast of a track fitting of the arenas BABYMETAL now find themselves playing as well as providing the first of many hooks that will nestle into your brain and won’t leave for a good while. Although an uncompromisingly heavy effort it isn’t without it’s ‘slower’ moments, tracks such as Amore, From Dusk Till Dawn and No Rain No Rainbow provide slightly more “easier on the ears” breaks from the madness that precedes and follows them leading up to the suprising English Closer  The One. Although not perfect this album certainly will silence a good portion of their critics and provides a glimpse into what is sure to be a very bright future for this bizarrely brilliant band.

8/10

Highlights: KARATE, Awadama Fever, From Dusk Till Dawn

For Fans Of: Dragonforce, Metal played very Fast, Big Choruses and Absolute Insanity

Mental health and music

I’m sure we all have heard the phrase “music is good for the soul” once in our life time. It’s such a cliche thing to say, but now that is have been scientifically proven, maybe we should actually pay attention to it.

Listening to music releases the feel good chemical ‘dopamine’ (it even sounds soothing!) into the brain, giving us the feels. Music that has a tempo of 60 bpm (beats per minute) increases the efficiency of the brain in processing information.

When you’re in love, you tend to listen to soppy love songs. When you’re sad, you tend to listen to sad songs. (I know some people do the opposite, maybe I’m just strange!) You put something lively on when you want to get motivated.  Music has been a savior for me personally, I suffer with panic attacks (thank fully, not as often any more) and anxiety. Whenever I feel a panic attack coming on, I’ll pop on some Zen music (I will link the one I listen to at the end of this post) and it will immediately help me unwind and relax, the sound takes me to a beach with lapping water. (Like this picture taken on holiday)

12063897_1012674798790420_3985295303756563194_n

 

I bet you’ve been listening to a song before and thought, “wow, this person thinks and feels how I do!” and I’m sure that person does. In fact, I bet that person you’re listening to just sat down and wrote EXACTLY how they were feeling at the time, and put it into a song. Maybe they didn’t intend for it to be a song, but even just writing how you’re feeling can help you say things maybe you find difficult verbally, almost like keeping a diary of how you’re feeling. You could do this too, if you can play an instrument, why not create a beat to go with your words?

Music helps you socialise with people you maybe never would, I’ve struck up conversations with people who like the same bands I do, but I have also had conversations (more like a debate, especially when they are tearing your favourite band down!) with people who don’t like my favourite bands. But hey, it’s socialising nonetheless.

Music for me is motivating too, I have my own playlist for cleaning (Yep, you heard it.. a very old woman move) especially as it does have Wham on it. But it really motivates me and makes the jobs seem less of a chore. Is there anything better than having a sing-song when you’re vacuuming??! (think Break Free – Queen) if Freddie did it, then it’s okay.

Of course, listening to music can just be as simple as needing an escape, blocking out the sounds of the world around you. I think my reasoning behind this post was to let others know that something as simple as a song can really make you feel less alone, even though you don’t actually know the person you’re listening to, you feel like you do. You form a bond with the band/artist. They’re singing the words you feel, and to me that’s like therapy.. like someone is telling you everything is going to be just fine.

“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without” – Confucius

Zen music link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGiH6oUDXVg

If you feel like music just isn’t doing it for you, and you need a little bit more help along the way, check out these links.

http://www.mind.org.uk/

http://www.samaritans.org/

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/

https://www.rethink.org/

http://www.sane.org.uk/

http://www.together-uk.org/

http://www.youngminds.org.uk/

Lindsey Thompson. (Please share this blog post if it has helped you or you know someone who it could help!)

Lukas Graham Self Titled Review

 

Lukas-Graham_Cover.jpg

7 years by Lukas Graham is the best selling song so far this year, played repeatedly on radio stations across the world, it’s no wonder their self titled album has been highly anticipated. Lukas Graham are a pop-soul band from Denmark, who have been very successful across Europe with their 2012 self titled debut album, which went quadruple-platinum in Denmark.

Now they have released their 2016 self titled album to the world. They describe their sound as ‘ghetto pop’. “Mama Said” seems to sample the Jay-Z smash hit “Hard Knock Life” and if released as a single, will surely be a huge success for the lads. The whole album is about trying seeing the positive in negative situations and Lukas himself takes you through various parts in his life. “Strip No More” is about Lukas losing his virginity to a lap dancer at a lap dance club (that is surely ghetto?) The piano balled “better than yourself”  certainly pulls at your heart strings and adds a little something different to the whole theme of the album. The track “Funeral” is Lukas seeing the bright side of his own death, telling his friends to party for him when he passes, it is my personal favourite track on the album as it has a gospel vibe to it.

Fans of Maroon 5 earlier work (Songs About Jane) would love this album as it has a similar theme and sound, and Mika’s “Life In Cartoon Motion” album. If you’re looking for an album that will fill you with positive thoughts and you can relate to Lukas losing his virginity in a lap dancing club, then this album is for you! I think this album could be the key to their success here in the UK.

I give it a 7/10!

Lindsey Thompson