We had the good fortune of connecting with Derek Jolley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Derek, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
When I was in middle school my best friends and I started a band called Ticket To Ride (which still exists today www.tickettoride.band). We were extremely young, and it seemed like nobody really wanted to help a few queer punk kids out with anything, especially in 2007, so, my record label business was born. Since 2008 I’ve owned and operated the entity by which we record, license, distribute, and promote our music. At first it was called the Time Table Records Collective, now Silverwood Records, soon to be Robin Drive Recordings (the official name of the recording studio I own), but it has always existed as a vehicle for good works, which is why cuddledrug does the same type of community outreach and advocacy work. As cuddledrug, Ticket To Ride, and the label itself, for 15 years now, I’ve undertaken benefit and awareness campaigns for a laundry list of organizations which I’m passionate about helping, including but not limited to the Domestic Violence Centers, CEO Foodbank, the Ronald McDonald House, Ruth’s Place Women’s Shelter, UNICEF, various queer youth support entities, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Geisinger Marworth Treatment Center’s Gift Of Hope Fund (which helps uninsured people get the help they need), and more organizations related to mental health awareness and addiction recovery access. We’re currently starting a campaign to raise awareness and support for Reproductive Rights and Resource protection in the United States (summer EP’s coming soon). In short, my thought process behind starting my own business was such that I could always do the most good for the most people with my music.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I started cuddledrug in 2010 originally as my solo project. The name cuddledrug refers to the brain chemical oxytocin, which is released when you do something good, like hug a friend, give support, pet an animal, donate to charity, etc. This is why with cuddledrug I’ve always sought to write uplifting songs about difficult subjects (the debut EP was even a breast cancer benefit). What sets cuddledrug apart from other bands is that it has always existed for the sole purpose of helping other people be okay. I never pretend like I can see the world through their eyes, and I recognize my own limits with my own perspective, but I’ll never shy away from making sure others feel heard as they hear my music. It’s not easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I grew up near Kingston, Pennsylvania. For those of you far away, that ten minutes outside of Scranton (yes, the office, yadda yadda). When touring bands would visit me I would always take them swimming. My home is nestled in the Susquehanna river valley amongst the Pocono mountains, so nature activities were my only outlets aside from music when I was a kid. There’s a sweet swimming spot called the 7 tubs, complete with jumps and natural waterslides (I can’t stress enough that if anyone reading this goes swimming there please BE CAREFUL. Wear swim shoes, take friends, feet first, first, and never jump from the candle wax. Just be safe. Rock swimming is dangerous). This is only one spot. There are two really cool overlooks of the Wyoming Valley called Giant’s Despair and Top of the World, which can only be found by a local. Hillside farms is great for ice cream and petting baby cows. There’s a million and one awesome things to do.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am one of the luckiest musicians in the world, because I’m surrounded by the best people in the world: not only my best friends and bandmates since childhood, but also a platinum roster of incredible humans who do not think or look like me, without whose help I would never be able to create anything meaningful. Much like how my bandmates hear things I don’t hear, I’m super lucky for the creatives around me who see what I don’t see and help steer my initiative. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to work alongside such incredible humans, and will always strive to advance my perspective while doing the most I could to help others.