3 Questions with Hope for the Day & DJ Heather
in advance of our show at arbella to benefit hope for the day (4/20) we asked dj heather and hope for the day founder jonny boucher a few questions...
brooklyn-born chicagoan dj heather exemplifies the midwestern dance music community. she bends genres, promotes the 'chicago' house identity, and advocates for social progress through music. through her 'lake effect' smartbar residency, globe-trotting tour schedule, and releases on labels like fabric records, she stands firmly among the great chicago djs.
hope for the day, founded by jonny boucher, takes a meaningful and innovative approach to mental health awareness. as suicide completion rates rise in america, hope for the day seeks to buck the trend through artistic expression programs like 'beatkeepers' and peer education training like their 'talk saves lives' and 'mental health first aid' courses.
one. how do you see mental health awareness & activism (or unawareness & inaction) affect the artistic community?
dj heather: we are living in a new area of awareness and with it comes acceptance. artists are more willing to share their struggles because their audience is affected by it as well.
jonny boucher: mental health in general impacts all walks of life. sadly, we see so many people (artists included) struggle and never get the help they really need. we often see those that are more in touch with their artistic side use their creative abilities as tools to express themselves during troubled or hard times which is a form of positive therapy for them or create messages for others who may be impacted to be attracted to as signs of encouragement. and we also see communities that aren't talking about mental health in a proactive way, lose more and more people to suicide, addiction problems and it needs to stop.
when combining mental health education and outreach with art, it amplify's the message that the artist is looking to achieve but also gives it a backbone with proper education and resources. art allows us to think without barriers, we should be able to do the same with mental health. it then trickles and impacts the community that the art is being received by and is used as a platform for not only art but also storytelling which then allows for a positive effect for the artist and the community.
two. what can artists do to drive progress in mental health awareness & activism?
dj heather: artists can continue the activism by destigmatizing mental health issues and hopefully inspire others to do the same.
jonny boucher: artists can be more proactive and drive progress by sharing their stories through their art but also by bringing this conversation into studios, friendship circles, creative groups because we are all human and we have brains so we need to stop waiting for another friend or fellow artist to complete suicide - we need to talk about it and/or paint about it on the good days and the bad. your personal story takes your art and elevates it to be more than art, it can truly save a life.
three. how does HFTD take a unique or inspiring approach to mental health awareness & activism (i.e. dj heather - why did you choose them)?
dj heather: i was immediately drawn to its mantra "it's ok to not to be ok" because it rings true. the first step to getting help is admitting you need it and there's not shame in asking.
jonny boucher: our organization is founded on the idea of taking things like music, the arts, health and wellness and turning them into platforms to break the silence around mental health because for the most part - they are all things we reach out to when we want to express ourselves. our idea of "meeting people where they are at and not where we expect them to be" can only be achieved by being the cool kids talking about mental health and doing so in a fun, creative way. whether it is at concerts, art shows, fancy dinners, health events etc. - we are always using the expression to bring people to the conversation and letting them be free. our slogan "it's ok not to be ok" is for everyone and we use art as one of the many platforms to spread the word.