Connected

Even at twenty two years old— a recent college graduate— I still feel like life is so quickly whirling around that I can barely keep up. While things are constantly changing around me (which can be quite overwhelming) one thing that has never changed is my passion for music. From a young age, I learned that music can heal those who feel broken and give people a means of escaping their troubles, realizing that they are not alone. As I learned to battle my own inner demons growing up, I developed a vision to create a community of people all over the world who believe in the power of music. A community of hope. That’s where Superbands was born: a nonprofit movement dedicated to helping those struggling with depression, self-harm, other mental illnesses, or simply feeling lost. Through the shared love for music, we aim to encourage hope and positivity, and to remind people that they are not alone.

If you looked back to 2006, you would likely find fourteen-year old me screaming at the top of my lungs at a dimly-lit Jonas Brothers concert, wearing a tour t-shirt plastered with the faces of the three brothers. In the midst of being an awkward pre-teen with an obsession with music, I was struggling with being bullied at school; the taunts of my peers echoing through the halls on a daily basis. This verbal abuse led to depression, self-loathing, and downright disgust every morning when I saw myself in the mirror. Struggling with self-hate for years, there were multiple days where life got so difficult that I considered attempting suicide.

It was around this time that I spent all my free time listening to my favorite songs on a hand-me-down CD player, miserably held together with medical tape from my mom’s cabinet. I awaited the final bell to echo through the school hallways so I could drown out everything around me — just by putting on my headphones. The stress of schoolwork, the taunts of bullies, the loneliness I felt after moving to a new town, the perils of growing up— it all disappeared. Nothing else mattered except the music. I refused to take my own life and give up. I wanted to go to more concerts, listen to my favorite songs, and meet my musical idols. Because of this, I firmly believe that these songs and these bands—though they did not know my name or my face—saved my life.

While most kids my age played sports or got involved in after-school clubs, the fear of being further tormented by my peers kept me at home everyday. Buried underneath the covers with my CD player, I felt alone, like no one understood me or my passion for music. Concerts were the only place where I truly felt happiness. Why did I feel so at home in these dark venues, surrounded by these complete strangers?

It was because we were united, connected by the music.

It was something that is nearly impossible to explain in words. Hundreds, thousands, of people singing along to songs that I sang along with in my bedroom alone. People’s eyes twinkled with hope as they sang, faces glimmering with amazement. We were in the same vicinity as our favorite musical artists, who jumped around on stage and played these songs just for us. Here we all were, people with the same passion for music, swaying to melodies that once only radiated from our headphones. It was like an island of misfit toys, with everyone finally finding a place where they belonged. We formed bonds, friendships that thrived on new albums and tour dates. We were a family of music lovers — something I had yearned to find for so long.

Today, there are so many ways to reach out to others thanks to social media. From Instagram to Twitter to Facebook to Tumblr, these different social media platforms allow us to interact with people worlds away, regardless of culture, religion, language, or sexual orientation. Barriers are breaking because of music. This is something that we could not do until now – sharing our favorite band photos on Twitter and Instagram, posting our most memorable concert experiences on Tumblr, talking to people about our favorite bands’ upcoming tour dates on Facebook. It’s surreal how much technology has grown in such a short amount of time.

Superbands was an idea that had been swirling around in my head for as long as I could remember. It wasn’t until I came back from college and saw my younger sister Jenna’s passion for music that I got flashbacks from my own awkward teenage years. My own passion for music never faded, but instead grew stronger. I wanted to create the network that I once longed for, somewhere that music lovers could find a place they belonged. Music inspires so many people to keep fighting to overcome obstacles, no matter how difficult their lives become. This passion for music is something that people shouldn’t be ashamed of; it should be something in which we we find comfort. It should be what breaks down those barriers to unite us.

And that’s what I wanted to do with Superbands. I want to connect us, so we can continue breaking down barriers.

Jessica Villa
Superbands, Founder