We love many things here at Chimp. Obviously giving, charitable endeavours, bananas, coloured denim. Guess what else we love? Music! Amp that up even further? We love music/musicians that/who are using their musical gifts for purposes of do-goodery. Enter the Lion the Bear the Fox, who are working with Music Heals on a new initiative called the Bandwagon Project. We’re pretty much in swinging-from-a-philanthropic-palm-tree, Chimp heaven.
The Bandwagon Project was started by (current PEAK Performance Project finalists!) the Lion the Fox the Bear, in tandem with Music Heals. Music Heals is a Vancouver-based charity, raising funds and equipment for music therapists visiting and caring for patients in children’s hospitals, senior’s centres, palliative care, AIDS and HIV programs, at-risk youth, rehabilitation, and bereavement support all across the Lower Mainland of BC. The Bandwagon Project is raising $10,000 to bring this first of its kind mobile recording studio in Vancouver Island for as many 6-week residences (at $2,500 per residency at a music therapy facility) as they can. The Bandwagon includes everything a budding, healing recording artist could want, from microphones, instruments, recording software, a computer and more, all available to therapists at the musician’s bedside. There are two existing Bandwagons already, one permanently at BC Children’s Hospital and the other roves around for 6-week residencies. With roots on Vancouver Island, Christopher (lion), Cory (bear) and Ryan (fox) really wanted to bring the Bandwagon across the water, and voila, enter the Bandwagon Project.
I was lucky enough to catch a few moments of Ryan’s time, and he was kind enough to answer a few of my burning questions.
Kim: How did you end up using Chimp as your fundraising platform/partner, and how is it helping you with your fundraising?
Ryan: Chimp was suggested to us by our friends at Music Heals Canada, who had worked with the company in the past with positive results. Chimp is helping us by providing an easy, robust fundraising platform, as well as raising awareness through their blog, social media and further publicity efforts. We’re delighted at the progress we’ve made so far, and for all you readers, feel free to get Chimping and give to our Giving Group!
Kim: How did you get involved with Music Heals?
Ryan: A couple of us had known the great Chris Brandt for many years, through his various positions throughout the music industry. We had always known him to be a bright light, and in what can sometimes be a ‘me-first’ business, Chris has always been generous and selfless. When it came time to fire up our charitable campaign, working with his new company, Music Heals Canada, was a no-brainer for us.
Kim: I watched that delightful video you made explaining your project and the meaning behind it, inspired by Megan McNeil, who you met through her music therapist. Did you get to do any recording with her? She was an amazing young woman and must have had quite the impact on you.
Ryan: About 6 years ago, a demo DVD landed on my desk. I watched it, and I saw a real young person, facing a very real battle. She had written and recorded a song, with the help of a music therapist, called ‘The Will to Survive“. It came to me via producer Garth Richardson, who was tabbed to re-record the song in a studio setting, and needed the song tweaked a little. I met with Megan and her lovely parents Dave and Suzanne, and we forged an instant friendship. I took part in the recording, music video, and countless live performances with Megan until her passing in 2011. It was absolutely life changing for me, and it taught me to, as Warren Zevon once said, “Enjoy every sandwich.”
Kim: What do you think the most powerful thing about music therapy is, and why do you think the Bandwagon Project is so important/laden with potential for healing?
Ryan: I believe that music is the great communicator. It’s been said before, but it succeeds where words fail. I believe that being able to write, record, create, learn and FEEL music is a great healing tool, and may succeed in giving a person some respite from their illness.
Kim: You have some pretty creative ideas for fundraising, as per your video, even washing dogs. That’s pretty awesomely hands-on, not a lot of people would be willing to offer as such. Any takers yet?
Ryan: Our campaign has just gotten off the ground, so no – no takers on house-painting or dog-walking yet… ! I really liked Chris’ idea to head over to a girlfriend’s work and sing her a love song. We could/would totally do that. (Kim’s note: significant others who have forgotten birthdays, here is your get out of jail free card!)
Kim: Have you been involved with philanthropic endeavours like this before? If not, what got you on board the…(don’t hate me) bandwagon?
Ryan: I’ve done some work for World Vision, and of course the aforementioned Will to Survive campaign, and the Bandwagon seemed like a great way to continue down that road. The Lion and the Bear live in/near Vancouver, but I’m firmly planted on Vancouver Island in a small town called Ladysmith. Sometimes I feel like VanIsle is the last to get things, because we’re somewhat segregated over here. I’ve seen what the Bandwagon can do for somebody I cared about, so to have that service here – if only for short intervals – would mean a lot to me.
Kim: How important do you think it is, or rather, should be, that bands leverage their influence and commit some of their star power to encouraging others to lead a life of giving back? Chimp’s hope is to make giving a daily part of peoples’ lives, like brushing their teeth or having coffee, only instead of alternately better or worse breath, you’re actually making a CHaritable IMPact.
Ryan: One of the reasons I’ve looked up to a band like Pearl Jam for so many years, is the countless charitable causes they throw themselves into. No matter the stature of an artist or band, it’s important to give back… we’re in a position to brighten people’s lives, so why not do that, beyond just getting onstage and performing?
Kim: How has your experience with the PEAK Performance Project been, thus far? Everything you hoped it could be and more? PS major congrats on being finalists!
Ryan: The PEAK has been much more than advertised. Obviously we’re gaining further knowledge about the industry we are navigating through… that much is a given. The real plus, and I guess somewhat unexpected thing for me, is how close that participating in all of this has brought me to my bandmates. There is a ton of work to accomplish, and all the while we’re recording and touring, which only adds to that… but it seems to me that we’ve risen to the challenge to make ourselves a better band, and a better business. Through that, the friendships have only grown stronger.
A huge thanks to Ryan and the Lion the Bear the Fox for not only taking the time to talk with me, but for being remarkable humans!
In closing, Tamara Stanners, self described Jack of All Trades and DJ at the PEAK had this to say about the 2013 PEAK Performance Project, and participating artists going above and beyond simply competing as musicians.
“As the PEAK performance Project has evolved, all of us felt that there was a giant opportunity to create real lasting change in the community.
We saw what happened with the Vancouver music community when all of the amazing talents that were brought together for the project combined creative forces, and we knew that if we extended that focus to include giving back to the community at large, we couldn’t help but see incredible benefits.
So, as a component in the competition we take the charitable undertaking of the artists very seriously. You can tell immediately if the artists truly care about the subject they choose to give back to. And in truth, the artists that do really care, not just for the sake of competition, but because it is true to their hearts fare far better than the artists that just go through the motions. Faring better in the charitable component, but also with their careers as well.
It is so true that in order to receive you must be able to give. I can’t wait to see the beauty that will come from the amazing minds of The Lion The Bear The Fox!”
Best of luck to the Lion the Bear the Fox in their journey in the PEAK Performance Project, and in their quest to fulfill the Bandwagon Project! For more information on the Bandwagon Project and how to donate, please click here.