Chad Moses of non-profit To Write Love On Her Arms has a lot to talk about with fans at festivals like Riot Fest and Warped Tour. While the holiday blues subsiding, we chatted with Moses during Riot Fest weekend in September, which was the same week as Suicide Prevention Week. With the tagline “Stay”, TWLOHA has been cultivating a space for people to talk openly about their feelings.
This isn’t your first Riot Fest.
This is our fifth year at the festival.
Why is Riot Fest important for TWLOHA?
Chicago is such an important, incredible city. Such an awesome part of our own story and memories of this town. Any excuse to get back to this town is a great one. Riot [Fest] has done an awesome job of not only creating a lineup, but also an experience that people believe in. For so many people, they’re here with their family, they’re here with their friends. From the top to the bottom, it just makes sense to celebrate in Chicago when Riot Fest comes around.
Why is it important for the scene to have TWLOHA?
The scene is a microcausim of what we experience every day, so when we talk about our favorite music and songs and artists, we’re talking about stuff that reminds of things that are true about our own lives. It’s always awesome to find a sense of belonging in that realm of music. Whether your scene is pop punk or old-timers punk or edm, hip-hop, wherever you feel your voice is connected, we hope you find consistent and intentional interaction. People that can celebrate you, people that can pick you up when you’re feeling down. Music festivals is such a great opportunity to support each other.
Do you feel like there are people speaking up about TWLOHA and mental health?
Seeing this conversation unfold the past 11 years that [we’ve] has been around, we’ve seen strides. We’ve seen people really latch onto our mission statement, we’ve seen people latch onto our blog and website. Before us, there wasn’t a voice [people]could identify with in their own scene. Not that the scene had a total lack of mental health awareness, but [people]found something in us that felt authentic and felt relatable. As the years progress, we’ve seen that reach out into really unpredictable fields as well. I think the conversation is growing, I still think we have a lot of work to do. Yesterday was the end of Suicide Prevention Week and we were able to meet our fundraising goal of $100,000 in support of treatment and recovery. That’s a number that was absolutely unthinkable to us even three or four years ago. To see us hit that goal, it’s more than just the money. This is the names and the faces and stories we get to see [with TWLOHA].
With the week being the same as Riot Fest, what does that mean to the organization? You’re doing guerrilla work here. Do people come up to you and [tell you their stories]?
Totally. That happens anytime we show up. With this year, we have a table and a campaign theme of: ‘stay, find out what you’re made for.’ We rolled up with a couple hundred of these cards that say ‘I was made for…’ and you fill in the blank. There’s not a minute that goes by that someone isn’t walking up to the table and reading what’s on the cards, writing on one or even taking one home that reminds them of that is true within their own life. We’ve been fortunate to have Riot [Fest] line up with Suicide Prevention Week. It’s an organic springboard into the conversation.