Mensai is an unbelievable drum and bass collective founded by Jennifer Whewell and Leon Snaddon. The collective formed in February this year and intends to raise awareness of the mental health crisis. Having successfully slammed down an incredible £2707.26 for Manchester Mind with Mensai 001, Mensai 002 is coming up on the 1st of December. In honour of this, Funraising is posting an interview from earlier this year in the summer, at which point the group had only just begun.
Why MIND? Was there any specific catalyst in the formation of Mensai?
We decided to use Manchester Mind as it is a charity which is close to us on a personal level, we all know personally people who have been affected by mental health. Charities like Manchester Mind are crucial for helping those who are fighting mental health problems.
You’ve got loads of great names in the lineup, I like the sound of Warhead and Euphonique. how did you get all the DJs involved- did you know them all already?
There are a few DJs on the line up who are Mensai residents, including The PaperChaser, The Dub Family and Vandalizm! We had so many people wanting to be involved in our first event, too many in fact we had to turn peoples’ offers down! But we will definitely be working with everyone who wanted to get involved as that is what we’re about, bringing people together for a good cause.
Do you think Manchester Mind or the issue of mental health gets enough attention or support in terms of fundraising?
No, I don’t think that Manchester Mind gets enough attention and I definitely don’t think that mental health gets recognized enough at all, there are so many people suffering in silence because they either don’t know where to go for help or they are too scared and ashamed to even try if they do know. In fact, there are not enough resources or funding available to even help everyone as it is! Mental health needs to be recognized for what it is. We need to do something to help people to get the help they deserve because it is a horrible thing to go through and we want to let people know that there is always someone there who wants to help them. There are lots of people who do fundraising for these charities, but the amount of people with mental health problems is increasing and funding is being cut, it is critical that people get the help they need.
The event is all dub, drum and bass and jungle. Do you think these musical genres resonate with your cause?
Both, one of my favourite things is being stood next to a sound system listening to my favourite music, but I also think that in that sort of scene there are a high number of people who are affected by mental health problems or know someone who is and a lot of the people who are in the scene know each other, so it is a good way of bringing people together for a good cause.
You say ‘what better way to raise funds and awareness than to have a great party!’ Why do you think this is the case?
Because that’s what we’re about, we want to support people, we want them to know that there is a safe place for them where there are people who care, and it’s obvious that people do care, as the response we have had has been incredible. Plus everything’s always better with a good knees-up, right?
Have you done any fundraising nights or gigs before?
Personally, apart from our launch party, this is the first night I have organised, but I have been involved in fundraising for other charities before. Our launch party went really well though, we was so happy with the support, the turnout was great!
Are there any other causes that are so close or important to you as MIND?
There are so many causes that need more support, homelessness, drug addiction, terminal illness, victim support, I could go on forever about many different causes that need support, but in the future, we are looking to support these causes as well as Mind. We are planning on doing regular events, with which we plan on getting as many people involved in each time, but yeah there will be a few people on the lineups who will be our residents who will play regularly at our events. All the events will be non-profit. We set out on a mission to help people, and that is exactly what we’re going to do.
Mensai doesn’t work alone, either. Jennifer told me that there are loads of other collectives and people that were working with them back in June. She spoke about the amazing support received from Decibel Test, Dropjaw Audio, Bloc2Bloc, Brainy Radio and so many more.
The social spirits among so many hard and willing figures signal revolution in the realm of drum and bass music. Something is moving out in the jungle, and it’s moving fast.