“By Giving, We Receive:” An exclusive interview with Timberland featured band, Alma Desnuda
Managing Timberland’s Community Music program gives me the opportunity to work with passionate up-and-coming musicians who have strong environmental values. I was taken aback when one of our featured bands, Alma Desnuda , asked to donate the Timberland footwear we offered them to children in need. I have to admit I was surprised –I mean, who doesn’t want free boots? Below is a Q&A with Alma Desnuda’s Chris Bryden, who gives us an exclusive look at the values philosophy behind the band.
Amanda: We hook all of our featured musicians up with Timberland gear. It surprised me when you chose to donate your footwear to the East Oakland Boys and Girls Club. What made you decide to do that?
Chris: We view all the resources that come our way as forms of energy. When we hold onto that energy, it stagnates. When we channel that energy into places that are aligned with our values, the energy is utilized in a way that is congruent with the way the universe works. We have enough clothes and shoes, not all kids from East Oakland do. We quickly realized that your generous gift of gear to us could go much farther on the feet of those who have it harder than we do. Furthermore, we believe that by giving, we receive, though not necessarily in the same form of the giving. And look, it’s true! We’re already receiving exposure to all the people who would not have otherwise have heard about us. This is a valuable resource for us. So thanks!
Amanda: What’s your connection with the East Oakland Boys and Girls Club? Have you ever volunteered or donated items there before?
Chris: We have a beautiful relationship with the Boys and Girls Club. On tour this summer, we jammed for the East L.A. and Austin, TX branches, talking with the youth about the power they have to realize their dreams and giving them an enjoyable musical experience. At the East L.A. performance, we got to sign their Wall of Dreams, alongside the L.A. Lakers! Playing for the youth is the best! They are full of life and hungry for wisdom and experience.
In general, philanthropy is a cornerstone of our band and business model. We play for a diverse array of causes because we are diverse, our communities are diverse, and there are a lot of needs to be met.
For example, we have played for amputee surfers, geriatric communities, incarcerated youth, orphaned youth in Bali, yoga classes, the homeless, food shelters, and the dying to name a few. No matter what your situation, basically everyone loves to get down to good tunes and we realized early that we had a great opportunity to expand our market by focusing on all people in the world, not just those that like to throw a few back at a venue (though I must admit we are partial to getting down on a legit stage with lights, good sound, and an eager crowd!).
Amanda: When did you drop off the shoes? Did you get to meet any of the kids that received them?
Chris: It was actually the day before we left on our international tour, 2 days before Christmas, and we were racing around to get all the last pieces in order when we realized that we had yet to drop off the shoes. So we sent Tony over and when he got there, the director of the center, Magen Clay, gave him a tour of the center, which included a couple computer labs, game room, gym, and a bunch of cool kids of all ages who weren’t shy about saying hello to the random dude with long hair and a guitar on his back!
It turned out that later that evening they had their annual Christmas gift exchange, so our donation came at the perfect time. Everyone was very happy and grateful for the unexpected gifts, and we were happy to know that our love for music has been able to provide some joy to those in need.
Amanda: For our readers that don’t know much about this part of the US, can you describe what East Oakland is like and why some of the kids there are especially in need of new shoes?
Chris: East Oakland is the heart of Northern California’s African-American community. Many factors, including racial prejudice, contribute to the fact that there is a lot of crime, drugs, and prostitution in the area. Poverty is high and opportunities for youth who are seeking a better way of life are few and far between. Places like the East Oakland Boys and Girls Club, East Oakland Youth Development Center, and Youth Uprising, provide a place for youth to be nurtured, empowered, and realize their potential. A pair of authentic Timberlands is a big deal in those parts. We asked the Boys and Girls Club to give the shoes to youth they felt were especially deserving, either through their good behavior or through having an especially needy holiday time.
Amanda: Congrats on your first international tour! If our readers want to go see a band that’s doing well and doing good, where will you be playing over next few months?
Chris: Thank you! The best way to follow us is through our website www.almaDmusic.com, which links to all our social media sites. Bali and Western Australia were incredible experiences. Please check out our tour blog to see some of the amazing photos and videos taken by photographer Gene Kosoy. For those of you interested in seeing us live, we’re off to Europe for the summer, then to infinity and beyond!
If you’re a fan of Alma Desnuda, the band is currently raising cash, grassroots style, to support the production of their new album, “Riders.” Learn more about their 55K in 55 Days project.