UTG INTERVIEW: To Write Love On Her Arms’ Jason Blades

twloha

To Write Love On Her Arms has always been an organization deeply in tune with the punk and concert community. For as long as I can remember as a fan of music, TWLOHA hoodies and tents have always surrounded me at festivals like Warped Tour. The message of the organization is clear: to spread care and love for those who need it. Not long ago, it was announced that TWLOHA would be released as a feature-length film in March of 2015.

Unfortunately, according to Variety, the film has been pirated nearly 20,000 since the Sony “hack attack,” which unveiled a series of non-released films to the internet.

I personally encourage any fans of the organization and supporters of the arts to wait for the formal release of the film to see it. To prepare for your moviegoing experience, Under The Gun spoke with Jason Blades, a member of the TWLOHA team.

Check below the jump for an inside look into the organization and to understand how the music world is so tightly-knit with this non-profit.

UTG: What is your your position at TWLOHA?

Jason Blades: I am one of two Music/Events Coordinators.

I’ve been familiar with your organization for years, but for those who are unfamiliar with TWLOHA, can you explain what your mission is?
To Write Love On Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inspire, inform and also invest directly into treatment and recovery.

What is your personal connection to the organization?

I moved to Florida in 2009 as part of TWLOHA’s intern program. I had the opportunity to participate in many of the programs and projects they were a part of. I ended up working heavily with the events program and did Warped Tour that summer. After I finished my final year at college, I moved back to Florida in 2011 to join the Music/Events Team. I felt strongly about the message and mission of the organization. I wanted to learn how to help my local community and those around me struggling.

Why do you think your organization is so integrated in the music community?

Music is a very large part of the TWLOHA story. The first person to ever support the organization was a musician, and it wasn’t long after that first show that we realized how important it was for us to be part of the music community. Music has a unique ability to bring a very diverse group of people together, and it offers us the opportunity to connect with that group. Music also can communicate on an emotional level, and it reminds us that it is okay to feel; pain, hope, love, etc. It’s such a powerful medium that has become home for us.

How many years have you been on the road at Warped Tour?

This year was our eighth consecutive year as part of Vans Warped Tour.

How have different artists gotten involved in TWLOHA?

They all start differently, but what each connection has in common is that every relationship blossoms from a mutual desire to help those struggling with mental health issues. Many artists and celebrities recognize their platform, and want to use it to help benefit those that might be struggling. Because of this, many of our relationships form very organically and naturally. It is such a privilege to have this support as well as to invest into the artists and their work as well.

Who is your favorite band/artist that has gotten involved with TWLOHA?

It is hard to pick one, because each relationship and connection looks very different, and we consider them all to be friends and family, but our longest lasting supporter is Jon Foreman from the band Switchfoot. He was the first person to wear a shirt and talk about the organization from stage back in 2006-2007.

The digital age has vastly evolved, even since your origins in 2006. Has TWLOHA made changes in their outlook or model to deal with cyber-bullying and the devastating effects the internet can have on those suffering from depression, et cetera?

The internet and social media have done some incredible things for us. As an organization, we would exist on a very different level if not for the ability to connect with millions across the globe with the click of the mouse. The unfortunate part is that it has also created distance between us as a society on a personal level and allowed others to hide behind a screen and make hurtful comments. Many social networks (Facebook, Tumblr, etc.) have created some great procedures and policies that address cyber-bullying and suicidal ideation and content. We have also started to provide many resources available right through our website, as well as a link to the first ever online crisis intervention “instant message.” These are all things that are working to help alleviate and solve some of the distance and hurt that the internet has created.

Where can people reach out to TWLOHA to seek help with their problems and where can others reach out to get involved in helping others?

We have a comprehensive find help page on our website as well as a calendar that will point to all of the events and engagements that we are part of. Either of these will be very helpful for anyone struggling or seeking help for a friend or loved one.

Check out a recent TED TALK featuring TWLOHA founder Jamie Tworkowski:

Interview written and conducted by Derek Scancarelli

Derek Scancarelli

Derek Scancarelli is a feature writer, interviewer, videographer, photographer, radio-er and more. In 2015, he received his MA in Journalism in New York City. In addition to Under The Gun Review, Derek has worked with Noisey (VICE), Alternative Press, New Noise Magazine and many more. He also pushes some buttons at SiriusXM.

Comedian Jim Norton once called him a serial killer on national radio. Enjoy the internet with him on Twitter.
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