Canadian indie label Royal Mountain Records, whose roster includes Alvvays, PUP, Mac DeMarco, Metz and US Girls, stepped up last year to give the musicians on its roster money to put towards mental health care and will do the same this year.

On stage for the Mental Health Film Series at Toronto’s Hot Docs Cinema for a Q&A following the screening of Richard Lowenstein’s documentary Mystify about late INXS frontman Michael Hutchence — who committed suicide in 1997 — Royal Mountain label manager Marc Cremonese said, “Last year, Royal Mountain Records pinpointed an initiative that gives artists on our roster $1500 a year, per artist, to work towards their mental health or other health, whatever they feel is most important — some feel that’s the dentist, but the baseline was it was supposed to go to mental health therapy, et cetera.

“We’re hoping to continue doing it this year,” he added.  “We are continuing to do this in the future and hopefully grow the amount we give. But it is a non-recoupable amount; they don’t have to pay it back. It’s just for their mental health.”

Cremonese explained that Royal Mountain is an artist-founded label, created by members of the now-defunct rock band Hollerado led by Menno Versteeg. “So we’ve always had a very artist-centric focus, which is why we thought it was important to help our artists stay healthy and continue doing what they want to be doing.”

According to Cremonese, label owner Versteeg implemented the gesture after “seeing his friends be depressed, self-medicating, [and] turn to suicide as an escape from those thoughts. That was the thing that propelled him to start this as a community. Touring and being an artist with uncertain money and uncertain job stability can weigh on people as well. And we thought it was the right thing to do.”

Mystify, which reveals Hutchence’s personality change and depression following a brain injury that was kept private at the time, was part of a free docs-and-conversations series about mental health in partnership with Bell Let’s Talk and Workman Arts.  The theatre also had a “supportive listener” on hand in case anyone in the audience was triggered by the film’s content. – Continue reading this feature at Samaritanmag.