Community, art, and mental health: A look inside fundraiser initiative The Be Good Project



One thing I’ve felt proud to see happen repeatedly over the past twelve months is the way the creative and performance industries have rallied together in support as a community in the face of adversity. The live music industry came together to raise much needed funds for those on the frontline of the horrendous bushfires. Visual artists made incredible protest and informative art during the Black Lives Matter movement. And over the course of the global pandemic we’ve seen musicians and artists stick together as a community to each help one another during this difficult time. During what’s been an awful year, I’ve never been more proud of the arts industry.


You can find these communities coming together from all sorts of places and spaces across Australia - and so it’s with great pleasure that today we share with you one of these new initiatives: The Be Good Project.


Coming together from Melbourne’s Robot Jaw Records, The Be Good Project is a compilation album and a visual book that contains pieces aimed at exploring mental health from multiple individual perspectives, all the while providing practical support for mental health charities.


Inside you can find works for many incredible musicians and bands, including some previously talked about on our blog before - Azim Zain And His Lovely Bones, Marigolden, Damaged Goods Club, and Ruby Mae - as well as some incredibly talented visual artists with the likes of Shan Primrose and Liz Lea providing work for the book.


As mentioned, each work explores the theme of mental health, and so each artist came into this from a different perspective and thus provided their own unique art piece that touches on mental health and what that means to them. This week, we talked to some of the artists featured across the project about their work that was included in this project, what this project means to them.


Azim Zain And His Lovely Bones

Facebook / Instagram / Spotify / Bandcamp / Unearthed



Tell us about ‘Dreams I Could Recall’ and why you decided to re-work the song


"Dreams was a song from the 2017 Lovely Bones EP ‘Between Who We Are and Who We Used To Be’. I wrote it when I was bouncing between living in Sydney and still being present in the Canberra scene and feeling lost and unsettled during that period. Caught between two cities and feeling like I could never nail a home down no matter where I go. I reworked it more on a whim than anything else when I started trying to learn how to produce music in my bedroom during lockdown".


Why did you choose to include this song in The Be Good Project?


"Two reasons really: 1. Being deep in Covid lockdown, my mental health took a hell of a dip. But my friend Cathy Diver mentioned that Ableton were offering a pretty sizeable free trial so I decided to take the time to start learning how to actually produce music and make beats myself. When I had some loose grasp on it, I realized how big a benefit it was to my mental health and how it revitalised my love for music. 2. Dreams is a song about not feeling settled where you are physically or feeling like you don’t belong somewhere. That feeling of being settled somewhere and having that stability is one of the most important things I’ve found in getting a handle on my own mental health. So, it felt like it made sense given the nature of the project".


And what does The Be Good Project mean to you?


"I think it’s a fantastic project for a good cause highlighting the collaborative elements of the grassroots music/arts community in Australia that gave me such a sense of belonging. BeyondBlue has also been an incredibly important organisation for me. Growing up in a country probably still a decade or two behind in terms of mental health awareness (and thus, having very few resources for learning to deal with it), BeyondBlue was a great first step for me in coping with mine".


Marigolden

Facebook / Instagram / Spotify / Bandcamp / Unearthed



Tell us about your song ‘Just Like Smoke’


"This is a song about allowing things to be what they'll be. A recurring theme across many religions is the power of smoke. It marks regeneration, lifts prayers into the sky, focuses intentions, assists meditation. For people like me, with an anxious and overactive brain, it's easy to get trapped in a loop of catastrophic thinking. Something I've practiced is allowing those fears to play themselves out in my head and then saying, okay, if that's the worst case scenario, now I know and I can carry on with what is actually in front of me. It's almost like watching smoke as it rises from a smolder, condenses into a thick haze, and then disappears from sight. Thinking about the strength in the people, especially women and minority genders, who have come before me focuses my mind on a bigger trajectory of carrying on the work they did to create a better world and being as okay as possible with the unknown".


Why did you choose to include this song in The Be Good Project?


"When Josh [from Robot Jaw Records] invited me to be involved in this project, he really emphasised the focus on process as opposed to product. This song provides a really therapeutic transformative experience for me. I often feel as though I'm living from a baseline of subtle anxiety, like the quiet noise of distant traffic that you forget is there but when it stops your whole body feels it. Singing this song, for me, is not just a performance of my music and art, but also a meditation in reconnecting with that part of myself that is strong, soft, capable, and compassionate. I hope that's what people feel when they hear it too".


What does The Be Good Project mean to you?


"The Be Good Project has blossomed a beautiful community of appreciation between and for artists. It's become this reminder that there are other musicians and artists out there that believe in the same things I do (in terms of prioritising mental health in our industry), and that want to actively shape the creative industries with those beliefs. Especially during Melbourne lockdown, it's been an opportunity to remember that art will always be made and shared no matter what and that there is more strength in coming together and celebrating each other than getting caught up in the social media capitalist trap of comparison and competition".


Damaged Goods Club

Facebook / Instagram / Spotify / Soundcloud / Unearthed



Tell us about your song ‘In My Head’


"‘In My Head’ is a song inspired by struggling with anxiety and self-doubt, and the false reality that our mental health issues can create. It explores how strongly anxiety and negative thought patterns can distort our perceptions of the world around us, until all of a sudden we’re living in a hell of our own making. The meaning of this song is really that, although we may be aware that what we're feeling or experiencing may not be real, or may just be symptom of our mental health issues, it doesn’t make it hurt any less. Just because something is in our head, doesn’t make it any less real".


Why did you choose to include this song in The Be Good Project?


"I chose this song for the Be Good project because it shows my internal struggle with mental health in its rawest, most vulnerable form. If my music can help just one other person connect with my experience and make them feel less alone in what they're going through, that's all I can hope for".


What does The Be Good Project mean to you?


"As much we tend make light of our darkness (‘cause if you don’t laugh you cry, right?), I think that talking about our struggles with mental health honestly and openly –whether that be through music, art or any other medium – is so important, and could be the thing that saves someone's life. As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember, I know that mental illness often makes us feel like we’re alone in what we’re experiencing – but that is rarely, if ever, the case. The Be Good project is simply a group of people coming together to normalise mental health, connect with others, and show that speaking out about our struggles is not something that makes us weak, but actually something that makes us stronger".


Velvet Bloom

Facebook / Instagram / Spotify / Bandcamp / Youtube / Unearthed



Tell us about your song ‘Over Our Heads’


"I made this loop at the beginning of the first lockdown, I was feeling quite vulnerable after making the a decision to let go of something that was important to me. Writing is always some form of therapy to me, especially when I am feeling down". 


Why did you choose to include this song in The Be Good Project?


"I think that this track was an accurate representation of vulnerability. I felt that it was important to include “Over Our Heads" to the project because people will resonate with the lyricism. It is fundamental to feel and to love and to express your emotions".


What does The Be Good Project mean to you?


"Being able to contribute to a project that is raising money for such an amazing organisation like Beyond Blue, fills me with purpose and pride. Lockdown has been challenging for most but its nice to feel like you’re a part of something bigger".


Shan Primrose

Instragram / Festy Fitz / Flo Creative Events

Tell us about your art


"I am a Visual Artist and Designer but I primarily use Acrylic paint. I paint different canvases including terracotta pots, secondhand clothing and found objects. I run an up-cycled clothing label called Festy Fitz, where I source clothing from op shops and transform them into unique pieces of wearable art. I also am the co-founder of Flo Creative Events - a not for profit organization that promotes local, emerging creatives and donates to important charities".


Tell us about your two artworks


"My first artwork is called 'Be Kind to your mind'. It explores some of the ways in which I combat my bad mental health days. I decided to draw a self portrait to make it even more personal. Hopefully the piece can inspire others to put their mental health first always. The second artwork is called 'BLM' and was created at the time of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. This movement was a very emotional time for me, as I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood, and often questioned my identity".


Why did you choose to include this in The Be Good Project?


"I wanted to show that you should never be ashamed of your mental health or identity".


What does The Be Good Project mean to you?


"This project means a lot to me as spreading awareness about mental health will lead to it being normalized".



Liz Lea

Website / Instagram



Tell us about your artwork ‘Robyn’


"'Robyn' is a digital painting of my mother. Inclusive in the book is a statement going into deeper detail on what it means to me, but I ultimately wanted to capture the misconception of mental illness and how it can easily facade someone's personality, if not, create a blurred line between who people are and what their mental illness is".


Why did you choose to include this in The Be Good Project?


"I actually painted this one specifically for The Be Good Project. I wanted something meaningful to myself/family as well as something that could possibly resonate with others. There's an abundance of media and art covering the concept of mental illness to a broader spectrum, hence my choice to personalise it a bit".


What does The Be Good Project mean to you?


"The Be Good Project has been a wonderful platform for so many artists of diverse backgrounds to collaborate and network together. The bigger picture is ultimately a foundation of support towards mental health, but having this theme so centric to the project has added an extra level of heart and warmth to it all (especially during these 'uncertain times')".



The Be Good Project is out now on Bandcamp with 100% of profits going to the legends at Beyond Blue. Check it out via robotjawrecords.bandcamp.com



The Be Good Project

1. The Rollercanes - Blissed Out (alt. version)

2. Trace Decay - Personadise

3. Marigolden - Just Like Smoke (garden version)

4. Velvet Bloom - Over Our Heads

5. Eileen Grace - How To Talk

6. Quiet Blue - Noises We Make

7. Therapy Dog - Healthy

8. The Crane District - Would You Choose It Again?

9. Nat Vazer - Sunlight (bedroom version)

10. Damaged Goods Club - In My Head

11. P. T. Collis - A Good Scrub

12. Ruby Mae - Seconds

13. Bares - Hercules (feat. Skyepaint)

14. Azim Zain and His Lovely Bones - Dreams I Could Remember (alt. version)