This April, post-rock band As We Keep Searching (AWKS) released its album Sleep. According to the musicians, based in Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Pune, this ambient album was aimed at soothing, at aiding the creation of a mental safe space for anyone who listens.They must have achieved it, because the personal responses they received over the next few months have pushed them — and other artistes who think like them — to do even more for mental health.The result: For Your Mind, a campaign spearheaded by AWKS with contributions from 20 musicians and visual artists across India, to raise funds for NGOs working in the mental health space. These are all well-known names with strong followings of their own, from Mumbai-based indie artistes like Raghav Meattle and Maalavika Manoj to Bengaluru-based digital artist Vibhav Singh. As AWKS frontman Uddipan Sarmah explains over a phone call, “We wanted to take a practical step, rather than just social media posts. The catalogue features EPs, art, merchandise and products by various artists that you can buy, and all proceeds go to four NGOs.” The organisations are The Minds Foundation in Nazmabad, Live Love Laugh Foundation in Bengaluru, Manas Foundation in Delhi and Anjali in Kolkata.
What convinced the band to take concrete steps in this direction was the flood of personal messages they received from their listeners, similar to what Bengaluru-based folk fusion band Swarathma got for their lockdown release ‘Mushkil Mein Jeena’. Says Swarathma bassist Jishnu over a phone call, “These responses make us realise that music is helping fans articulate about mental awareness, in a way that helps them reach a medical conclusion.” Swarathma has a number of singles to that end, which is probably why they are donating high-quality audios of these tracks along with a note about what went into their making. This four-track playlist, called the #ForYourMind compilation, features the numbers ‘Mushkil mein jeena’, ‘Manwa’, ‘Rishto ke raaste’ and ‘Kaash’. Dimapur-based pop rock band is giving its popular track ‘Fallout’.Maalavika Manoj aka Mali, on the other hand, is not offering up songs. “There is some merchandise like tote bags that I made for one of my songs last year. My bags are ₹200 each. Everything in the catalogue ranges from a couple of hundred rupees to a little over ₹1,000. What is important here is not just the money, but where it is going, and what we, as artistes, are willing to give up for the cause.” A point worth noting, since merchandise often contributes to a bulk of the income for an independent artiste.
New Delhi singer-songwriter Hanita Bhambhri has offered up a pack of six artwork postcards, while artists Vibhav Singh, Anusha Tendolkar and Sachin Bhatt have put up for sale prints of their surreal, intriguing art in different sizes. Singer-songwriter Raghav Meattle is offering an online workshop on Social Media For Artists. Another interesting contribution — also by Swarathma — is a virtual and a print copy of their graphic storybook created in collaboration with Ghost Animation Collective. Titled Raah e Fakira after one of their songs, it features short tales told in the graphic novel format, that go hand-in-hand with specific Swarathma songs.At the end of the day, says Uddipan, there is only so much artistes can do. “Though we are very concerned about mental health, we are not doctors. So we thought it would be better to provide monetary support to those actually working on the ground.”The catalogue with details about contributing artists is available on aswekeepsearching.in.