On a Wednesday night in January at New York City’s newest Manhattan venue Racket, hundreds of young fans made the space feel warm by being the utmost respectful audience to a bill of their favorite indie-pop artists. If you were to look offstage ever so slightly, though, you would’ve noticed even more warmth in the room. Throughout most of the eight-act concert, bedroom singer Cavetown, who organized the event, sat on the steps to the stage, enveloped in his sweater with his knees pulled into his chest, watching some of his closest friends perform and the show he put together play out with a certain attentiveness and care. 

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The event was the first benefit show in support of the English singer’s recently launched LGBTQ+ fundraising organization, This Is Home Project. It was a night of stripped-down sets from friends and bedroom-pop contemporaries of the 24-year-old singer born Robin Skinner, and saw all proceeds go to New Alternatives, an NYC-based organization that supports unhoused LGBTQ+ youth. But beyond how gracious the crowd was in seeing every name on the lineup, including Cafuné, chloe moriondo, mxmtoon, Penelope Scott, spookyghostboy, Sydney Rose, Yot Club, and Cavetown himself, it felt like a truly special event — and the start of a natural progression of the safe space Cavetown offers in his music to something even more tangible. 

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[mxmtoon at the This Is Home Project benefit / photo by Lauren Tepfer]

Last year, Cavetown’s idea to launch something more official that helped raise funds for various LGBTQ+ organizations came together, and This Is Home Project was announced by October. To the singer, who is trans and has long supported the queer community through things like other fundraising efforts or by writing about identity, it felt all but inevitable. “When I started touring, it became a consideration of everything we do, like, ‘Can we use this as an opportunity to raise money?’ The bigger the shows got and the bigger I got, it felt like the next logical step because I am privileged enough in that I am able to do more — and why would I not do more?” Cavetown says. “It’s exciting to me to be able to just keep giving as much as I can to the people who support me and my community.”

The name for This Is Home Project comes from the title of one of Cavetown’s most beloved songs, which was first released in 2015 and then again in 2019 as “Home” and explores anxiety and gender dysphoria. He explains the track as being special to him and his fans because it’s long “been like a silent communication between [him] and the people who listen, who understand.” Even if the singer didn’t explicitly say what the song was about when it was released in 2015, fans took solace in it, and today they wave flags when he performs it live. So when it came time to name TIHP, his manager thought that was the perfect fit — and it is, not just because of the song’s subject matter, but because of how much TIHP aims to help people feel at home within their bodies and identities, as well as their community. “I want people to feel at home in themselves, and hopefully this whole project helps those people get that… That’s the goal, really,” he says.

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[Cavetown at the This Is Home Project benefit show / photo by Lauren Tepfer]

Currently, through merch and fundraising at events like the recent NYC show, TIHP raises funds for partnering organizations like Trans Lifeline, Stonewall, and other groups. “I want [TIHP] to be able to essentially help people’s journey move forward,” Cavetown says. “Obviously, money isn’t everything, but money helps a lot with these kinds of things, especially when someone is transitioning.” Cavetown, for example, says he waited two years to get an appointment at a gender clinic in the U.K., and now the wait is even longer for people seeking gender confirmation. Having more financial resources to seek other options like private health care, he explains, can help with that process. 

“You can really speed things up and get to a place where you feel like you can actually start enjoying your life. I remember a lot of that waiting time, I was just waiting to be happy. I was like, ‘I can’t enjoy my life’ — simple things like run along the beach with a thin shirt on because I will just cry,” he says. So for the time being, he would love to be able to help “speed things up for people,” and eventually hopes to initiate change within the system, like with how the NHS works in terms of providing mental health or gender confirmation in the U.K. “That’s the huge goal that feels unattainable right now because this just started, but the dream is to be able to have some say in how people are treated and change the way that it is so that you don’t need to have money to get there faster.”

In the meantime, Cavetown describes the initial response to TIHP as being very exciting and has allowed others to see him, Robbie, as even more of a safe space beyond his heartwarming music. He explains that it was like announcing the project allowed more people, from fans to people in his personal life, to feel as if they had “permission to reach out” to him when looking for resources or in need of someone to talk to. While he would have been responsive had TIHP not existed and they contacted him, he’s glad it’s emboldened more people to ask for help. “I love being able to help my friends and people who I don’t know, as well,” he says. “I would have really appreciated [to see something like this when I was younger]. I see my younger self in kids in the audience, and I hear stories from them that remind me of myself. I remember what it was like to be in that place. I’m fortunate enough to be on the other side of that now, but I know how hard it can be, and it feels good to be able to help people move forward in their journey.”

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[chloe moriondo at the This Is Home Project benefit show / photo by Lauren Tepfer]

At the This Is Home Project benefit show, there was a gentleness in the room. The crowd embraced every artist who graced the stage, and sang along to every song Cavetown performed at the end of the night, including popular releases like “Lemon Boy” and “frog.” But more so, they seemed proud to see his latest effort off the ground, and thrilled to be able to support it. To end the night, he even told the crowd, “Genuinely, I appreciate that there’s so many people here. Thank you for being so loving and supporting a good cause.” 

Playing an acoustic version of “Home” at the end of the set especially, you could sense how much the entire night and its goal meant to everybody in the room. Singing the final verse, “But strangely he feels at home in this place,” with a sweet grin on his face, only to be met with an outburst of cheers, it was as if everybody in the room seemed at ease — and one could only begin to imagine how many more will feel at ease, thanks to Cavetown’s efforts, soon.