- 20 Oct 21
There are many different ways you can join in the moustachioed fun for Movember 2021, under the headings Grow A Mo, Move for Movember, Host A Mo-ment and Mo Your Own Way. Joining the likes of fellow producers and musicians Josh Gray, Zenna, Micheál Quinn (drummer for Dermot Kennedy) and Rob de Boer, celebrated DJ Arveene here discusses his Movember involvement.
Movember Ireland launched in 2008, five years after the idea which sparked the NGO came to life in Melbourne. Since then, the charity has gone from strength to strength, spreading much-needed awareness about male mental health, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Raising over €500 million for research and programmes has allowed men to live happier, healthier and longer lives since its formation.
Hot Press have spoken to five musicians about how they learned to express their emotions for the sake of their own wellbeing, and Arveene Juthan has generously offered up his personal experiences.
Arveene has DJed regularly in the Chocolate Bar (which became Pod), The Kitchen and Traffic (later the Twisted Pepper and now Wigwam) in his years as a producer, gig promoter and manager. He brought over international DJs as part of Nylon, a Sunday night club. He also ran distribution for D1 Records, looking after labels from the likes of Donnacha Costello, Decal, David O’Donohue and Psychonavigation.
Later working with The Sugar Club, on the Absolut stage at Body & Soul and mingling with legends like Billy Scurry, Johnny Moy and Dave Hales, the Rathfarnham native has had an action-packed career. Kickstarting his adoration for club culture at age 16, his loyal ties are always appreciated by Jack O'Connor (aka producer Zenna), Movember Ireland's Country Manager.
“This is my third year working with Movember Ireland. I've always supported it and been involved in various different aspects of their campaigns," Arveene tells me over Zoom. The DJ has been running around hosting Ireland Music Week and arranging DJs for The Sugar Club, but made time to chat today.
"Jack O’Connor approached me a few years ago and said they wanted to work with me, so we did a couple of parties. We did one in Ukiyo and just brought a community together from all different types of DJs. Jack really believes in Movember. It’s great to be able to kind of give something back this year.”
How persistent are the issues Movember deals with in Arveene's daily life?
“I did a project for Mind Yourself, a mental health charity in London, a few years ago. I interviewed men who had moved to London from Irish backgrounds. They were all in their early teens to their mid-’fifties. Judging from that experience, I think Irish men are specifically bad when it comes to isolating themselves and not talking about their emotions.
"Irish women are often the matriarchs - the true heads of families. They very much talk to everyone, so you often have a quiet grandfather compared to the chatty grandmother. My dad is South African-Indian and it's very much like that on the Indian side of my family. Women do most of the talking! That's what’s really drawn me into this business of trying to get men to speak out about their problems. My mother is also a retired mental health practitioner. I've kind of grown up in and around the world.”
Aside from the worthy journey towards getting young boys and men to fully express themselves, Movember's quest to boost funding for suicide and cancer prevention are especially potent for Arveene.
"There's not many people that haven't been affected by different forms of cancer,” he says. “One of my best friends - he's a DJ from the UK - has just finished rounds of chemo for prostate cancer, these things are constantly on the agenda for me. I've also lost a lot of friends to suicide. Today is actually quite a resonant day because it's the anniversary of one of them. Whether it's illness or mental health, helping people to feel seen, understood and valid is huge."
Movember’s mental health strategy takes an upstream approach, where the NGO aims to reduce the number of men who need to avail of the existing crisis support services. This is largely based on prevention and early intervention, by opening up the conversation around men’s mental health, giving guys the tools to effectively support their friends who are going through a tough time, and by addressing some of the key risk factors for men’s mental health.
For many men, this is uncharted water – they’ve never had these conversations before. Movember hopes to up-skill guys to support their friends effectively to get the help they need.
“There's really a strong message within Movember, and I think the role of men in society has evolved," Arveene explains. "Some of us are starting to embrace our inner feminists, which have probably been hiding in there! As humans, we should all be in touch with every side of our inner workings.
“It's definitely changing, but I still think Movember is just as relevant. We all need to move on from a lot of old paradigms we were trapped in. This is the type of organisation that changes with the times, thankfully. I'm hoping that toxic masculinity won’t be accepted in society anymore by the time Movember are done with their work.”
Arveene stresses how vital it is for men to have healthy support networks around them.
“I've got a very supportive family - I've been very lucky in that respect. Having one parent who's not Irish and is distinctly South African-Indian in all of its glory changes a lot of things. My partner, my sister and my brother in law, my parents, that extended family - I have such love for them. In terms of friendship groups, it's ups and downs. I have a very beautiful bunch of friends around me who are there for me. But it hasn't always been that way.
"I've been through shit like everyone else, where you kind of fall out of friendships or friend groups or there’s a difference of opinion. That's totally fine. You've got to know when the right time is to move on, which is a difficult thing. We tend to hold on to connections that don’t always serve us well sometimes. You don't have to be everyone's friend, but you need to be kind.
“When you do lose friends, you've got to really dig deep and take care of yourself. Your family should be there for you forever, but sometimes they're not. Your friends can become family. We can make our own, like they do in the queer community.”
Fraying friendships is one thing, losing a friend to suicide is a whole other battleground. As the world’s leading men’s health organisation, Movember are all too aware that three quarters of suicides are men.
There isn’t going to be one silver bullet, but by speaking more openly about suicide, and by shifting the culture of men talking about their mental health, Movember can collectively have a major impact.
“When it comes to suicide, sometimes people lose that connection with their friends and family. They just feel so alone and isolated. During the lockdown, we lost a really good friend of ours - a musician who had it all," Arveene says, quietly. "He was at the top of his game, in one of the most respected bands in one of the busiest bars. He got to a point in his life where he didn't think he had anymore. It's terrible, he had a lot of people who loved him.
"There's only so far people can go to help these men, but you’ve just gotta keep trying.”
To join Movember Ireland's campaign, visit ie.movember.com/. The Irish campaign officially launches on October 29 in Pygmalion, with Arveene on decks.