Helpin Aht! Records created BAIL compilation album to raise money for bail funds | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Helpin Aht! Records created BAIL compilation album to raise money for bail funds

click to enlarge Sheridan Woika - PHOTO: SHERIDAN WOIKA
Photo: Sheridan Woika
Sheridan Woika
New Pittsburgh label, Helpin' Aht! Records, pulled together their first album, BAIL, in about two weeks.

"This felt like an immediate need," says Sheridan Woika, the creator and sole operator behind the label. "With a bail fund, it's like your friends and neighbors are getting arrested and the reason they can't be home is because they don’t have the money, and it's kind of dystopian. It's an immediate need because we can give money and save somebody's day."

Featuring out-of-towners and local acts including Just Fern, Doors in the Labyrinth, and Sommelier, BAIL, is a compilation project where 100% of proceeds go directly to the Bukit Bail Fund, which supports people incarcerated in Allegheny County Jail. The album was released on June 17 and as of July 7, a little over $220 had been donated.

Woika personally reached out to around 50 musicians and bands for the album, getting 18 to submit either a song they had already written, or a song written specifically for the album, showcasing their thoughts and feelings on the killing of George Floyd and subsequent protests.

"I didn't want it to be like donate money, get a bunch of free music," says Woika. "I wanted it to be artists saying, 'Hey we're on the same page with this, we want to stand together here and make a small difference in the world.'"

BAIL is not the first album to donate its proceeds to causes like the Bukit Bail Fund. Since the onset of protests around the country following Floyd's death, and the subsequent arrest of protestors, musicians both locally and nationally have been donating profits from their creative projects to help those in need. What makes BAIL stand apart is that Woika created an entire label around the idea of giving money from musical endeavors to good causes.

"It was a last minute decision to make it a label but I realized that art, music, and activism is very much linked, because when you're writing a song, you [can be] hoping to change the world," says Woika. "Activism’s the same way. It's not going to overnight solve everything but if enough people do it, it can really make a difference, even if it's just a small one."

Woika is currently putting themselves through community college for social work. They also work at a drug and alcohol treatment facility.

I find working with that population really rewarding in some cases," they say. "I want to try and make a difference on that level. So maybe the next [album] will be about that."

Nothing is set in stone, but Woika hopes to release another compilation album for a cause that fits "an immediate need." And hopefully, it won't be in such a short time frame.

"Many weren’t able to get something together in time," says Woika. "Hopefully if we do a next one, a lot more people will be aware."

Woika urges interested parties to reach out to them.

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