On December 28th, Sun Tiki and SeepeopleS will host a benefit event for two phenomenal local charities. Hope Acts assists immigrants transitioning to life in Maine, and Dignity works to destigmatize substance abuse disorder and provide support on a pathway to recovery for those affected by it. I jumped at the opportunity to hear from members of this talented and eclectic bill about what this show means to them. Here’s what they had to say.
Tell me a little about yourself
Will Bradford: I play in SeepeopleS and theWorst. Give Back Hopeis the third in a series of semi-annual charity events SeepeopleS has hosted since 2016. We have been working with Hope Acts for several years now, and our old keyboardist Fred Copeman, who is also on the bill doing a solo set, is an ex-board member.
Chelsea Toussaint (Sparxsea): I grew up in northern Maine and spent most of my childhood exploring the woods and building stuff. I moved to Portland about 15 years ago for college. Beyond my music, I love food, sailing, and dogs.
Angie (Van Dammesel): We are a Biddeford based band, established in April of 2014. Justin and I were urged toward one another by a mutual friend, and writing together came easily. We announced our first EP, “Heartbeat,” under the name of The Living Daylights in 2015. November 1st, we released “Unfamiliar Sounds” with the help of Justin’s brother Brendan, who wrote and tracked most of the drums both on it and on “Heartbeat.”
Angelikah: Born and raised in Portland, Maine. I started going public with my music in October of last year (2018), and since then, I’ve been performing all over Portland. Currently recording music to release.
Fred Copeman: I’m a musician who moved away from Portland about 3 years ago to live and work abroad in Vietnam and Thailand. While I was abroad, I cooked up an ambient electronic solo project. Since my recent return to the states and move to Boston, I have begun to perform again and I just finished recording my first solo record. I’m also a fitness nutbag, an avid traveler, and a lover of good books.
What are you most excited about in regards to this show?
Will Bradford: To have a great time doing something good. These kinds of events can really resonate with the attendees and become, ultimately, an unforgettable shared experience. Throwing a thought-provoking, love-based, super-fun party is sort of our thing. I also know these charities to be ground-level charities, with little overhead or infrastructure and are volunteer-based. Meaning that the money we raise on December 28th will actually go to the very people we are trying to help. I’m in no way a religious person, but this sure seems like the perfect time of the year to help those in need of it.
Angelikah: I’m excited to perform and meet everyone that came out to support these charities and possibly meet people that this event benefits.
Fred Copeman: I love when musicians — especially ones who are dear friends of mine — come together to celebrate, fund-raise and awareness-raise for important issues like immigrant support or addiction recovery support.
What do these charities mean to you? Why is it important to you to support them?
Angelikah: My parents came here in the 90s, not knowing anyone, with little help. They managed to adapt when the people they lived around and went to work with invited them into the Portland community, allowing them to understand their surroundings and the natives. Being placed in a brand new part of the world from undesirable circumstances is a huge transition. With Maine being a new home to people, we have to do our best to make them feel at home because what they knew is gone, and they just want to feel at home again — safe and happy.
Substance abuse and drug addiction are serious. Those suffering from either disorder can overcome these habits with help from their family, friends, and community. Substance abuse and addiction stem from a deep disease at the bottom of the heart and back of the mind. Sometimes, emotions & feelings are much too heavy to handle on your own. Events like this let others know that we care, and wish those struggling a smooth, successful recovery because we want their contribution in this world. They’re more than a drunk or opioid addict, and they must know their worth so they can live their lives to the fullest — adding to the greatness of others, Maine, and the world.
Chelsea Toussaint (Sparxsea): In 2011, my mother died of an alcohol and opiate overdose. It was a heavy rewriting of my life. I wish no one would have to go through the loss of a loved one because of addiction. Therefore, recovery efforts are invaluable.
Angie (Van Dammesel): I mostly just love getting out and sharing my music with people. It’s even more exciting that doing so will give support to fixing some serious troubles in our immediate community. Hope Acts is a great organization. I fully believe in making people feel welcome, no matter where they’re from. I believe the community thrives on what its members bring to it. The more diversity, and places of origin, the more variety in what those members have to offer!
Fred Copeman: Dignity is a charity I care deeply about because I am a person in long term recovery from addiction. I know folks who still struggle, and I know folks who have passed from this epidemic.
Hope Acts is a charity I also care deeply about because I used to serve on their board of directors. During that time, I came to see and be inspired by the incredible work they do in housing and providing human services to asylum-seeking immigrants in Portland.
What role do you think music can play in social change movements?
Will Bradford: Honestly, I’m not really sure. Even if there is the slightest chance it could make any difference, it is probably worth mustering the effort for a good try. Even better if we can have fun while we do it.
Angie (Van Dammesel): Music is remarkable. Growing up, my favorite songs did anything from helping me process feelings that were hard to understand, putting words to those feelings, to provoking strong emotions all on its own. Music can be so inspiring! I can remember more than one occasion where I felt lost and didn’t know what to do about one thing or another. Always, JUST the right song would “shuffle” into the queue, and light a fire under my ass or give me the vote of confidence I was too embarrassed to coax out of someone close to me. Beyond music’s ability to move people, the artists are being watched. Inspiring people. As the lead singer, I’m comfortable being front and center on stage. I don’t shrink away from the light, so to speak. Don’t get me wrong, I get nervous, and definitely intimidated. However, I’m the kind of individual who can breathe through it, and still step out there. As someone in this “position,” I feel like I should be doing more to voice my beliefs and support for one thing or another. Not everyone is comfortable with the attention that comes with outwardly standing for one thing or another. It’s those of us who have that comfort exposing ourselves through music and art, that need to use that confidence to encourage whatever changes we want to see in the world.
Fred Copeman: Musicians have the ability to reach people. In that, we can bring issues to folks who might not have considered them otherwise. From a different angle, sometimes we need to hear a message in the abstract or poetic form to be called to action. Musicians can do that!
Who’s your favorite artist on this bill?
Will Bradford: As the curator of the Give Back Hope line up, I will easily say I love all the artists on the lineup and booked them all for a reason.
Chelsea Toussaint (Sparxsea): SeepeopleS. They created this benefit show three years ago!
Angie (Van Dammesel): Unfortunately, I’m not thoroughly familiar with any of the bands we are sharing the bill with. But that’s another thing I love about being a part of the local music scene! There are so many talented people in this area. Events like this help open my eyes and ears to those who have passed under my radar. I’m really looking forward to hearing them and sharing such a positive event with them all.
Fred Copeman: SeepeopleS without question. I was lucky enough to play with this band for about 3 years. I still think of these guys like brothers. Will Bradford’s songwriting and lyrics are genuinely some of the most profound and beautiful that I have ever heard as a music lover and musician.
Angelikah: All of them… none of them resemble the others!