Buying music-related merchandise has many perks, if you get them from the right sources: funds go directly to supporting the bands and labels you love, and the clothing provides you with a memento to associate with positive memories, while providing the brands a little free publicity. However, one clothing company is taking it a stage further: In Music We Trust donates 50% of the profits to a charity, in this case the excellent Depression Alliance. I reached out to founder Aiden Hatfield to exchange a few words about the project.
When not working on In Music We Trust, Aiden is a musician, playing in pop-punk act utoXator. The idea for a clothing company had been churning in his head for a while: “I’ve wanted to set up a clothing company for the past few years,” he tells me, “but I didn’t want to be just like every other musician that runs a clothing company on the side, I wanted good reason to do it.” The intention was always to donate a percentage of the profits, it just took a while to establish which one. “I wanted to raise awareness, and money, for one of the lesser known but equally important charities.”
Spurred by the passing of Robin Williams last year, Aiden finally struck upon Depression Alliance as his charity of choice. “Depression is something that affects most people at some point in their life, either they suffer themselves or somebody close to them has suffered.” He approached Depression Alliance with a plan and his research, “and they have been very supportive since the beginning.”
There have been links made with studies between depression and music, either creating it or listening to it. Given Aiden is in a band, I felt compelled to ask if there was a personal connection in this for him. He opens with a preface: “I try my very hardest to make sure that ‘In Music We Trust’ isn’t about me.” He then goes on: “Like I said before, depression affects a lot of people. What I have done is linked music with the recovery. Music helps people deal with all sorts of problems. Some people create music to help deal with things and others just like to listen. Creating music will help some people deal with depression, but that doesn’t mean that could work as a release for everyone who suffers.”
Despite being such a new company with only a couple of designs on the market, Aiden’s already raised over £100 as of January. He says there’s no direct link between his work in In Music We Trust and his music making, “however being in utoXator does help to promote the work I do in In Music We Trust.” His bandmates are understandably fully supported of him: they all paid for and own t-shirts, and are happy to promote the cause. “The two projects may be more closely linked in the future, but for now they are just strong passions of mine.”
This being a music site, of course we discuss about music tastes, and his “like most people’s, is very varied. The first bands I got in to were as a direct result of my parents, and Slash and Bowie are the 2 main reasons I got in to playing music. My dad was always in to Guns ‘n’ Roses, and my mum is a big David Bowie fan.” From there, it was a matter of time before he fell into heavy music, Slipknot first. “These days I don’t really have a specific band that would get me through a hard time. It all depends on what I have going on at that point in time. I even had an album or 2 by Billie Piper, but I try not to think about that,” he comments with a laugh. Don’t worry, your secret is safe with us.
Instead of focusing on the future, Aiden remains firmly rooted in the here and now, frustrations included: “I don’t have a lot of money, so it’s difficult to get more products in without selling what we already have, but it’s difficult to grow without having products to sell.” His main drive is not financial motivation, however. “Right now I’m just trying to promote this to as many people as possible, and hopefully in the future, with the hard work from Depression Alliance, we’ll be able to get rid of the stigma around the word ‘depression’ and really help those that are struggling. I just want this business to grow and the awareness to grow with it.”
He offers some advice, initially aimed at up-and-coming bands in his home area of Leeds, can also be applied on a wider scale: “The best advice I can give is to stick at it and work hard. If you want something to happen then go out and do it. Success does not come easily and it does not come quickly.” His parting words are a direct message to anyone going through depression issues: “Stay strong, and there is no shame in getting help.”
Our thanks to Aiden for his time. utoXator have an EP due for release next month, and In Music We Trust are launching a new line of beanie hats soon. Stayed tuned on their Facebook pages here and here. You can pick up In Music We Trust clothing on their Bigcartel page here.