mental health

What Music Means To Me: Shai Bender

Shai Bender isn’t just a boss front woman, vocalist & guitarist in Copley Woods, she is also an active member of the Philadelphia DIY scene. Shai shared with us what she felt about music, and we’re here to share it with you - check out Shai’s What Music Means To Me down below!

“What does music mean to me?

A variety of things honestly: loss, love, anger, pain, happiness, disgust; these are all things that can be evoked from music in all its forms. For me, music has always been an outlet, somewhere I can have some form of therapy. Performing and being on stage has given me freedoms I never would have had in my daily life, and allowed me to process complex emotions under the guise of metaphor, or through direct response. Copley Woods especially has been a project where I can continue to explore relationships in abstract concept; relationships with my mental health, gender identity, and relationships with the people around me. So as far as what music is to me personally, it’s the extreme concentration of my internal perceptions of myself, and external conflicts, whether it’s lyrical or even instrumental. I write a lot of my guitar parts to play off of the emotion of the song we’re working on, as well as to show off my technical prowess. A perfect example of my play style the is the breakdown in our most recent song “Missing Time” is raw and dizzying. The song is about someone experiencing PTSD flashbacks about being abducted by Aliens, and I wanted to reflect the chaotic and painfully experience of reliving someone violating your autonomy, something that I can say I have sadly been through.

I also wear my influences on my sleeve, and a lot of Jane Doe and Harms Way’s recent release from 2018, Post Human, certainly played a central role in the development of that part, which also happen to be both emotionally charged albums about abuse and general anxiety. So for me, music is purely self-expression, whether it’s hardcore, jazz, hip hop, or even country western and folk; it has to trigger some form of emotional response. “

Check out Shai’s influences down below, and stay tuned for more on What Music Means To Me!

What Music Means To Me: Jimmy Lo Fi

Photographer: Rachel Malvich

Photographer: Rachel Malvich

Jimmy Wilkens of The Sonder Bombs & Jimmy Lo Fi (as well as countless other music endeavors like Drag Daze & The Scuzzballs) is making his second appearance with The Hook Journal! The first being a gig back in Philadelphia, and now to share his thoughts on what music means to him!

Check it out below!

“It's hard to describe what music means to me because music is so abstract. I can't explain why myself, and thousands of other people, are willing to risk their health & financial livelihood all over 12 notes rearranged in different-yet-sometimes-the-same pattern. But for me, it's the only way I've ever truly been able to express myself. I tried drawing, I tried writing, but none of it stuck the way music did. Music allows me to connect with other people, to learn new perspectives, to discover things I like and don't like about people in a safe, constructive way. It also helps me make friends as an adult. I'm not in college anymore but I'm still in a community where I get to meet new people all of the time and that's pretty cool. Also, it's such a weird feeling listening to a song all the time and then meeting the creators of that song. You feel like you know them, but in reality you don't. That can be a good or bad thing, depending on the circumstance, but it's an amazing feeling when you meet that person and then end up being really good friends.

Music also means I get to help others.

Playing in The Sonder Bombs has been wonderful because the songs we put out have connected with people in ways that words alone may or may not have. Willow & I started this band a little over 3 years ago and it has grown beyond something we ever thought it would, and having people come up to us after shows to tell us how a song of ours has helped them through something, it's incredible. Willow is a superb songwriter and the excitement I feel when she says "I have a new song" cannot be contained because it means I get to find a way to add a piece of myself to it and then ultimately share it with others.

I guess all of this can be summed into on statement: Music means to me that you'll never be alone.

A local artist I've really be into lately is Teamonade. They just dropped an EP, THIS IS YOUR ONLY WARNING and they have this song "Wreck" that literally wrecks me. The lyric "...so much has changed in the worst way" has me doubled over because it had effectively ripped my guts straight from my body."

You can check out Teamonade down below & stay tuned for more artists as we delve into What Music Means To Me!


What Music Means To Me: Anna Ladd

Photographer: Megan Kelly {@quinoa.cowgirl}

Photographer: Megan Kelly {@quinoa.cowgirl}

An art maker and creative peer, Anna Ladd does it all. Whether it’s visual art, writing, making podcasts, or being a good human being - she’s got it covered. Of course, sometimes that isn’t always what we feel on the inside, and Anna is no stranger to that. After following her through social media outlets, and rare sightings (one in particular with a dog), Anna seemed like the type of person I wanted to ask questions about - especially what music meant to her, so I did!

Check it out below!

Anna Ladd (Artist/Creator):

Like most EmOtIoNaL suburban youths, I grew up listening to pop punk music and dreaming about fronting a band on tour. But I wasn’t very good at the main skills someone needs to write a song: singing and playing an instrument. So, I figured I was doomed to watch from the sidelines. By high school, I had resigned myself to taking pictures at shows, hoping someone might bring me on the road when I was old enough.

I put out my first record nearly five years ago, when I was 20. I was at art school, and when you’re at art school, you’re not allowed to suck at art. And I really needed a creative hobby that I could suck at, so I wrote some songs. It was weird to engage with the creative process like this – without thinking about what I was doing, without learning how to be good first, or without really even trying to be good at all. It was also out of character for me to adamantly want to perform this thing I wasn’t very good at, in public, where everyone could see. But for some reason, this was the first place I felt comfortable being a little bad.

Visual art was a different case for me – the post-graduate depressive hole didn’t lend itself to making work, or really even having ideas for work. If I made something that sucked, then I must also suck, and will probably suck forever. I also stopped listening to music. I couldn’t tell you what records came out in 2017. But through this otherwise creatively sterile period of my life, I kept writing songs.

They weren’t a life-or-death reflection of all my shortcomings, or something I felt a pressure to connect to like I did when I was 15. They were just some songs, that were kind of bad, about kind of boring feelings, about being kind of boring. They carried no weight. And they were my entry point back into making my “real” work – even though I consider my music to be an important part of my creative practice now, not just adjacent to it. My whole perspective on making things follows this mantra now – I’d rather be prolific and kinda bad than never make any work at all.”

Anna is currently listening to Magic Gone by Scranton, PA local, Petal. Check out the album streaming below!