[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Sırma Munyar – it’s the latest in our ongoing Life During Quarantine series.]
It looks like this is going to take a while.
Sure, there will come a time when we’ll better adapt to this new normal. The real question is, how can we stay in tune with our own lives as we wait for the rest of the world to catch up?
The music industry is now coming to terms with a version of 2020 they probably couldn’t have imagined in their wildest dreams. With no live concerts or music festivals in sight, some clubs have already announced that they would not be re-opening.
This is all grim without a doubt, but unlike those who rely solely on live entertainment for their livelihood, we, as artists, can still find new ways to sustain our projects.
As part of our “Life During Quarantine” series, we have already covered a lot of ground on this subject.
But then I got curious: how are my fellow artists actually coping with this new reality?
Siv Jakobsen: “Doing live streams has been a great way to feel connected to my audience and given me something to do that feels useful.”
Right before the pandemic, Norwegian singer-songwriter Siv Jakobsen was in the middle of her US tour. Not only did she cut her tour short, but she also decided to push back the release date of her upcoming album from April to August.
“I’m just trying to take this one day at a time, and not get too frustrated or down about it all,” says Siv. “I wasn’t planning on writing for a long time, my plan was to release my album and then tour it extensively. However with this newfound time on my hands I’ve slowly been able to get back to my writing-mode, which has been very helpful to me.”
I’ve been following Siv’s journey for quite some time. Since the beginning of quarantine, she has been noticeably more active on social media, particularly via live stream concerts. I asked her how her live shows on Instagram and Facebook have been going so far.
“The experience is a bit different every time, depending on how the live-stream is set up,” she answered, “I’ve done two directly from my own pages (one on Facebook and one on Instagram) that both felt really nice and interactive. Because I could see people tuning in and their comments live it made it feel a bit more like a ‘real’ show. The other ones I’ve done have been through other outlets, an example being a Facebook livestream I did for Martin Guitar directly onto their page. These third party ones have been great experiences in a different way than the ones I’ve done on my own pages as I’ve been reaching new audiences that probably haven’t heard of me before, and because I have been streaming live without being able to see the comments and people attending in real time. I had to sort of get myself into the mindset of a live show and convince myself that there was a real audience there, to be able to communicate on the live stream. It’s been difficult but a really good thing to learn. Doing live streams has been a great way to feel connected to my audience and given me something to do that feels useful. Hopefully they can provide some comfort to fans tuning in.”
ONUR: “One thing quarantine has helped with is that I can now be more ruthless with my creative choices as a producer.”
ONUR is an alternative R&B artist based in London. Since he’s a bedroom producer, he’s one of the lucky ones during this quarantine. “I usually never get this much time to produce music for myself because I’m either producing for others (which I can think a lot more critically about as I’m not the artist) or I’m rehearsing, or at some sort of business meeting regarding music,” he says and adds, “I’ve shifted my focus in the sense that I really have a chance to make the best possible music I can during this time. So I’m fully trying to give myself to that right now.”
Like many other artists, ONUR, too, has performed live shows via Instagram and Facebook during quarantine. When I ask him how the experience compares to playing live on stage, he replies, “I like doing them because I guess with just an acoustic guitar it really highlights the song, rather than anything else. And I can be a bit sillier than usual as I’m just in my living room. But I’d definitely much rather play to a live audience. That’s part of the fun of it! Anything could really happen when the pressure’s on.”
Iris Lune: “It’s hard to predict anything right now, and it was important for me to get the music out there.”
As fate would have it, just when I realized I was going to be stuck in Turkey for a while due to the pandemic, Iris Lune, who is an art-pop artist based in Brooklyn, was faced with similar circumstances. “I’m still in Israel. I’ve been here with my wife and son for a little over two months. I really miss Brooklyn and our home (and cat!!), but I also know it’s for the best to be here at the moment,” she says, and states what I can only imagine to be the most challenging part of her situation: “I don’t have my computer or regular setup with me so I have to be extra creative. I’ve been picking up classical piano again and the out of tune piano I grew up with is getting a lot of use right now. I started writing again which feels wonderful.”
Like many artists, Iris Lune was caught in the middle of a release cycle when the pandemic dawned on us. It wasn’t an easy decision: “I was debating whether to change the release timeline, but eventually ended up deciding to keep it as is. It’s hard to predict anything right now, and it was important for me to get the music out there. The album deals with loss and love, and I think that that’s something everyone is dealing with right now in some way or another.”
During these trying times, it might feel like you’re alone in your struggles every now and then.
Maybe you keep reminding yourself that everything is transient but each day is harder than the one before.
Getting in touch with your fellow artists at a time like this might give you the insight you lack in your darkest moments.
The live music industry will transform into something we can’t fully predict yet, but at least there’s one thing we know for sure: music will never cease to exist, for as long as we all keep making it.