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Interview: Can You Hear Me?

Posted: August 29, 2016 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Our Warped Tour Correspondent, Kamna Talwar, spoke with Ashley Coro about the non-profit she helped start called Can You Hear Me? Ashley and her mother Jessica Coro, an attorney, came up with the idea after Ashley graduated with a degree in music business. Ashley had experience with music and health related non-profits by working with Music Saves Lives before starting Can You Hear Me? in September. 

Kamna: What is Can You Hear Me? about?

Ashley: Can You Hear Me? is a non-profit that created this safe online space where teens and young adults can go and share their stories without fear or without judgment. Nobody can bully them or comment anything. It’s a completely safe environment. We also have partnered up with musicians who are sharing their stories on there and YouTubers, comedians. It kind of allows the kids to feel more comfortable, it draws them in. But then it’s like, “Oh, my favorite musician is sharing his story so I can share mine.” So they go on and they can share in any format – pictures, video, artwork, poetry, anything… I’m Ashley Coro, one of the co-founders, and my mom [Jessica Coro] is the other co-founder. And we’ve got a third partner named Mendi.

Kamna: What is your role with Can You Hear Me?

Ashley: I basically take care of all things social media. Basically anything that has to do with Warped Tour, I am doing. But, to be fair, my mom and I basically do the same amount. We put as many hours into it. Mendi is kind of like our supporter. He’s in the background, like cheering us on and giving us ideas and funding us. Out here, my mom does all things that have to do with the behind-the-scenes stuff, like finances and all that stuff that has to be taken care of – the “adult” things. And I’m out here trying to link up with volunteers, do press, get our team out there every morning, make sure we get good spots, and connect with the kids.

Kamna: What celebrities – musicians, comedians, actors, etc. – have you worked with in the past?

Ashley: Our first ever musician that did a video for us was Patty Walters from As It Is. We have YouTuber Chris Ryan. He’s actually out on tour with us the whole summer. We’ve worked with The Comedown, Night Argent, Kaitlin Colombo is the comedian that we had. Her video on our website is absolutely hilarious. If you get a chance to go on our site, it makes me laugh every time. But it’s also a very good, serious message. It’s just funny.

Kamna: What are you doing on Warped Tour?

Ashley: Usually we have this recording booth set up with air conditioning where the kids can go in and share their stories right at our tent. Right now we just have a selfie booth. It’s set up to take pictures and it sends to their phones. We’re having them engage with us and follow on Instagram and Twitter. We also have merch for sale out here. Something that’s really cool is we’re partnered with the band From Ashes To New all summer. We hide a golden ticket in every venue. I go out every morning and I made these handmade golden tickets, and I place them somewhere in each venue. I put a picture of it on our Instagram with a little hint as to where it is. And if they find it and bring it back to our tent, they get a merch pack from us and then a CD and sticker from From Ashes To New.

Kamna: That’s so cool! Are people actually finding them?

Ashley: I’ve been trying to find them on some of our other friends’ tents, like other non-profits I know. From Ashes To New tweets out about it every day and I’m trying to get as many people involved as possible. People find them every day! It’s really cool. Some people in some venues, they know about it ahead of time. So they’re looking for it. I wanted that Willy Wonka feel.

Kamna: What other tours, festivals, or events in general do you do?

Ashley: We just started in September, but right away in October, we went to the UNITE Face Addiction Rally in DC and kind of just rallied for trying to get rid of the stigma that surrounds addiction. Then we went to South By South West in March. We were invited to be a vendor/sponsor there. And then Warped Tour. So in our short time, we’ve done a ton of things and hopefully more in the future.

Kamna: How long have you been around?


Ashley: Just since September. This was the goal. Ever since we started this, we were like, “We have to bring it to Warped Tour.”

Kamna: Does Can You Hear Me? have any position or stance toward the tobacco industry?

Ashley: We definitely encourage a healthy lifestyle, and that means no smoking. No drugs – no smoking, no drinking. For me, I absolutely am 100% for a smoke-free lifestyle. She [Jessica] was a cigarette smoker for a long time. Actually, what happened was my little cousin was born, and my other cousin said you can’t be around him if you’re smoking. So I had bought her those e-cigarettes for Christmas one year because I wanted her to stop. And she just quit and went over to that. And now she’s vaping and she’s almost at zero nicotine. She’s doing well. Same with my little brother. Actually, I think he’s completely 100% off everything.

Kamna: How long did that take? Do they have any tips on quitting?


Ashley: Well, part of the reason Can You Hear Me? exists is because of his story. He was in treatment for addiction. I noticed that most people in general that go into treatment centers, they end up smoking cigarettes. I feel like it’s a vice; I don’t know why. But since he was out in California for treatment, vaping was like the big thing. So I don’t think he ever was onto cigarettes. I think it was more so the vaping lifestyle. But then he just stopped. I think my mom’s way of doing is probably better. She’s weaned herself down in levels of nicotine. I think she was at 16mg or more when she first started, and now I think she’s at 3mg or less. I would much rather her do it this way than smoking cigarettes any day. I think for him, he’s one of those kids that if he’s determined enough to get rid of something then it’s just out. I think he lost his vape or something for a little while, so he was like, “I’m not spending another $300,” or whatever it is. So he was just like, “I’m done.”

Kamna:  How have you seen the perception of tobacco use change over the past 5-10 years?


Ashley: Well, I’ve noticed that with this vaping thing that everyone’s doing, apparently, people are more prone to be anti-tobacco. Especially this new generation of kids, they’re like, “No. We get what you’re doing. This marketing is not going to work on us.” So Generation Z can’t be marketed to the way that big tobacco markets to kids. I’m hoping and tending to see a trend of kids not going that way. I hope that in the future it just goes away because it’s horrible.

Kamna: Have you noticed any trends specifically in the music scene?


Ashley: I was out last summer with Music Saves Lives, a different non-profit. Last summer, there were a lot of smokers. This summer, I noticed more vaping going on than smoking. Maybe because it’s a different crowd, because there’s kind of older bands out here now. But I’m starting to notice that they’re not really going toward tobacco anymore. It’s all about their vape pens or whatever. Which, in my opinion, it’s more of a waste of money. But, for some people, it’s a lifestyle choice. I think that it’s slowly going away. What’s crazy is that I recently learned that Adelle was a smoker. But then she had to get vocal chord surgery. I don’t understand why you would do that when you have this voice that’s your career. Same with out here – they’re screamers and they’re smoking. Like, you’re going to wreck your voice.

Kamna: How do you think the tobacco industry specifically targets people in the alternative music scene or even those who are already struggling with addiction? What advice do you have for young people to take a stand against that?

Jessica Coro: Big tobacco has started taking over vaping. Big tobacco has been marketing to this age group forever.

Ashley: I think the tactics that they use on these kids are outdated. I just don’t think that it’s as effective anymore. The industry doesn’t even have to market to the kids because other people who smoke are like walking billboards for it. I think the craziest thing I’ve ever seen – I was at a festival, it was a music/extreme sports festival – there was this kid who must have been probably 10 holding a cigarette. I took a picture of him and put it on my Instagram and was like, “This is what is wrong!” This is everything wrong! Why does this kid even have access to a cigarette? I don’t get it. Actually, in our state in Maine, they just passed a law that you can’t buy cigarettes if you’re not 21. So they’re really pushing for that to be not a thing anymore. With the new generation coming in and getting older, I think that you’ll see it decrease with time – especially with vaping. I think that it’s not as cool, it doesn’t smell good. I’ve never liked cigarettes or cigarette smoke. Nobody wants to be around a smoker. I think it’ll go away. I hope so, anyway.

Kamna: Do you have anything else to add?

Ashley: I think anyone and everyone should go to our site [CYHM.org], even if you don’t share your story. Just go on and read the stories that have been shared. These kids are from all over the world, and the things that they have gone through are just incredible that they’ve gotten this far and they’re doing so well now. I think that living a healthy lifestyle in all aspects, in all areas – mentally, physically – is incredibly important. If you’re not healthy physically, you’re not going to be healthy mentally, emotionally; and vice versa. Just keep living a good life.