Two community-minded musicians raise $500 for United Way (Interview)

Encouraged by a great group of friends to put on their first electronic music show in Edmonton, Andrew Williams and Colin Spence made a decision some Gen Y critics would call unusual.  They chose to generously donate $5 to United Way for each individual who came out to their show, Soundscapes Vol 1. Armed with an excellent poster campaign, they began leveraging social media; spreading awareness through dedicated music collectives. By the end, 100 individuals came out to hear them and support a good cause.

When I sat down with Andrew after the show to accept a $500 donation and discuss the future of Soundscapes, he generously agreed to answer a few questions.

This was your first event of this kind in Edmonton, how did you go about promoting the event and getting people excited to attend?
From the very beginning we had a great group of friends support and encourage us to put on a show so from there, it was only a matter of getting the word out to like-minded people. We achieved this mostly through connecting with a number of dedicated music collectives in Edmonton like Electronic Music Producers Group and the Edmonton House and Techno Collective. We also did a poster campaign (designed by my partner, the amazingly talented Colin Spence) using a unique poster design to grab some public attention. Oh and of course, the United Way spread the word through social media channels as well! That was appreciated.
Why do you believe it’s important that young adults, like yourself, play a key role in community investment?
It’s important because if we leave all the “community building” up to the older generations, we won’t see the values and interests of our generation reflected. We want to live in a dynamic, progressive, and exciting community that looks after its own. By supporting the United Way and throwing fun events, I think we are helping those goals progress.  Also, I can’t seem to go a single day without reading or hearing about how “self-involved” my generation is – might as well help shift that stereotype.

How did you come up with the idea to incorporate your musical talents and social good in this way? 
I’ve wanted to volunteer and donate to a charity for a while, but I wasn’t sure where I wanted to volunteer and I didn’t want to just write a cheque and forget about it. I wanted to be involved in some way that aligned with some of my other interests. When Colin Spence and I agreed to come together to put on this show, a light bulb went off that this might be a great way to involve a charity. I knew the United Way was doing a lot of youth oriented work so they seemed to be the perfect match.
What would you tell young adults that are interested in getting involved in their community?
I feel like a lot of people get stuck in a choice paralysis; they want to do good things but they don’t know what would be the best use of their time. I went through the same thing. My advice is, if you’re having trouble deciding how to contribute to your community, just imagine what type of event, service, or program you think your community needs, and go see if someone is working on the problem already. If they are, go volunteer, if not, maybe get some friends together to make it happen. Soundscapes started because I wanted to hear a certain type of music (Future Bass) played live in the city and I also wanted to support a local charity.  So I partnered with Colin, contacted United Way, and a few weeks later, we were off and running. It’s easier, more fun, and more beneficial than you think it’ll be.

Why United Way?
Through my work at Venture Publishing on WE magazine and a family history of supporting the organization, the United Way was the first organization that came to mind!

What is your vision for the future, moving forward with Soundscapes?
We will continue to put on forward-thinking and fun electronic music shows that support good causes.  July 27th is our next show at Level 2 Lounge and for every person that comes through the door; we’ll donate $5 to the United Way.

Andrew and Colin are both shining examples that an individual can make a difference. They plan to continue their Soundscape series throughout the year in hopes to not only raise funds for our community impact programs, but to foster a growing sense of community awareness amongst young adults. More information about Soundscapes and their latest event can be found on their Facebook Page.  

If you are interested in discussing how your event and talents could help support a good cause, please contact me, Louise at I encourage your unique ideas!

Louise Gray, Campaign Manager, United Way of the Alberta Capital Region