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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Striking a major chord

By Kaeli Hearn


The morning after the Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting, Western alumnus Hayden Eller channeled his passion for music, reaching out to bands across the country to create a benefit album to raise money for the victims. Within eight hours, 52 bands had submitted songs.

Eller, a member of the Bellingham band The Co Founder, organized and released a compilation album on Oct. 3, which includes 56 tracks from bands across the U.S., he said.

Hayden Eller plays guitar. // Photo courtesy of The Co Founder

He produced the album through his own record label, LifeVest Records, an online platform where all profits are donated to various causes. All the proceeds from the compilation album are being donated to the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund, he said.

LifeVest Records started about a year ago and is tailored specifically to releasing benefit compilations, Eller said. All of the compilations are put out on cassette tapes.

Eller graduated from Western in 2014 with a degree in political science and his degree is tailored toward writing public policy. Eller worked for AmeriCorps for a year and a half as a reading volunteer working with literacy development programs.

“I want to use music as a catalyst to connect music to social programs and allow people to contribute to social programs while also being a part of something they are really passionate about,” Eller said.

The record label has released a compilation for Girls Rock Camp of Sacramento, Northwest Detention Center Resistance, the Opportunity Council of Whatcom County and most recently to benefit the victims of the Las Vegas shooting, Eller said.

“Anybody that has a song, anybody that wants
to contribute can send it to me and I will put it on there. We were just trying to drum up as much support as possible for this,” Eller said.

Twin Cities plays a set. // Photos courtesy of Twin Cities

Western alumnus Jeremy Blas, and member of Bellingham band Mhostly Ghostly, heard about the compilation album via Facebook and submitted his band’s track, “Europa,” to the cause.

“Besides obvious ways of helping, like donations and volunteering, it is hard to feel like you can do anything,” Blas said. “So I have music, I’m in a regional band, so it’s just a place to start.”

The album is available for $15 through Bandcamp, but you can pay as much or as little as you wish to donate, Eller said. Of the donations made, 90 percent have been from bands on the compilation album. You can also stream the album for free through the website, he said.

LifeVest Record’s compilation album for the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund has now raised close to $200 and is still raising money. The album contains a variety of songs and genres.

“If anything, doing this benefit compilation is an opportunity to hopefully expose people to the music I really love and care about, but at the same time offer a distraction to people,” Eller said.

With the other compilations, Eller has curated the playlists, but the Victims of Las Vegas compilation was open to anyone who wanted to contribute, Eller said.

“It was such a cool experience. People were just sending tracks in,” Eller said. “Some were iPhone demos from kids who were 15-years-old from lord knows where.”

Eller started out solo with an acoustic guitar, he said. Then about a year and a half ago, he started playing in bands with his best friend Jake Barrow. Barrow and Eller currently live in Bellingham, Eller said.

Barrow, a member of The Co Founder, has two tracks on the compilation album— one with The Co Founder and one with his other band, Vervex.

He felt contributing to the compilation album was the most immediate thing he could do in an effort to help, Barrow said.

“It was an opportunity to bring together something I am passionate about, music, to play a part in the larger aspect of our community and country,” Barrow said.

Locally and across the country, bands were sending in tracks to help build the compilation album.

Mikey Haddad, member of indie band Twin Cities located in Las Vegas, Nevada, also contributed the track, “Sleeping In,” to the compilation album.

“The shooting happened less than a mile from me,” Haddad said.

Twin Cities performs. // Photos courtesy of Twin Cities

Haddad had been contacted by Eller after the Vegas shooting to see if he would be interested in contributing to the album, Haddad said.

“It is important that I can find a way to help in any way possible. Having some music on this compilation album is just another way to show support and help raise money for the victims,” Haddad said.

Eller said he hopes by composing benefit compilations, he can generate positive impacts and interactions even if it is just one.

The compilation album supporting the victims of the Las Vegas shooting is available for streaming and purchase through www.lifevestrecords.bandcamp.com


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