With infinite time spent with your thoughts, the enforced lockdown has been a chance to reflect, not just on the negative impact of the spread of Covid-19, but also on the positives.
Though the music and events industry has been heavily impacted, the time spent in isolation has spawned new projects and allowed for bursts of creativity and innovation. On a grand scale, the environmental benefits have been huge but on a personal level, it’s given people enough time to complete all those tasks they’d put on the back burner for so long or to pour their time and effort into something new.
A few weeks ago, in a bid to raise spirits and some funds, we decided to reach out to as many friends of the site as we could who may need a hand and give them three days to produce a track in lockdown. 27 artists rose to the challenge and the result was Isolation Therapy, an emergency compilation built from scratch at lightning speed.
In the process of putting the compilation together, we asked the artists involved to share some thoughts and feelings about their time spent under lockdown and how its impacted them and the wider world, both positively and negatively…
It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions; empathy, anxiety, loneliness, gratitude. I thought I was going to make an ambient piece but I ended up working on something dub techno inspired; the genre is all about expanse and space, something so lacking in isolation. I used field recordings so I could dream about nature and envision the great outdoors.
Minimal living is what we’ve been accustomed to over these past few weeks so minimalism was my inspiration for creating ‘We Own The Night’. Something dark, deep and simple for the times we’re currently facing. As DJs and producers, we own the night, we move the nightlife and we want it back more than ever. Although it is tough times I have to look at the silver lining. Creatively this isolation has given me time to work and focus on more projects within our 7 Days label.
I think a lot of producers will already be quite familiar with ‘self isolating’ or ‘social distancing’. I, for one have spent many hours alone in my studio working on music whilst avoiding contact with other humans. What has made this whole experience feel so different is being stuck inside knowing that all my work has been cancelled for the foreseeable future. It’s been a strange feeling succumbing to this reality and trying to shake any feeling of guilt around purely focusing on making music. Now feels like a time to experiment, collaborate and create as freely as possible. We are connected more than ever thanks to the Internet and even though we can’t physically come together there’s a lot of scope for sharing ideas. This situation will no doubt have an immense effect on the creative community but hopefully it’ll also open the door to some forward thinking music and projects.
I put this track together quite early into my isolation period. Having just returned from overseas the reality of losing all my gigs (and means of living) is probably yet to fully sink in. Therefore the mood is still quite optimistic. I’m undecided if this isolation period has any silver lining yet, looking at my records right now I feel some kind of weird disconnect as I have no idea when I will DJ in a bar or club again. I think projects like this with a finite time frame are probably a good way to get through it and keep some kind of momentum and sanity.
This lockdown is somewhat of an opportunity for me to re-observe music, as it’s become non functional these days. Uncertainty of what will be after these strange few weeks made me give up the thought of a practical use for a track, such as in a party, so your work becomes a little more free and abstract. Personally I like this aspect. I felt like I could focus easier, as I had no other place to be and everything around me was so much more quiet.
It’s A Dub’ is for your lounge dance floor and strongly influenced by labels like Easy Street that hit that mid-80s sweet spot of boogie’s dying embers and a burgeoning house mentality that spawned the dub mix. But it didn’t come together easily. Sean’s currently on lockdown in New Zealand, while I (Louis) am in London. So I finished the majority of the track but it was Sean that had the idea for the spoken word, which kinda wrapped the whole piece up. 11,659 miles away but we still made it work. We both have full-time jobs so being an artist for us hasn’t been nearly as difficult as it is for others. We’re so thankful we still get to contribute to this compilation and will be donating our royalty payments to The Trussell Trust.
These are the moments where we all have the time for a bit of introspection and self reflection. Maybe “remembering the memory of a little child” and all the good and even bad things we had and have, which will give us the strength to go through this horrible moment. As an artist it’s a really tough period. Only last month I was working together with my friend and singer, Pamina Chauveau, on a project which I really take care of, and then this surreal situation came along. I’m trying to keep myself busy in the studio and also doing something else such as gardening, crafting objects and of course, as good Italian, spending time in the kitchen with my lovely half.
I’m definitely a bit sad to have missed some exciting events in cities I’ve never played in before. I guess because I live kind of outside of a big dance music hub, I’m already a bit exiled. So now I feel like it’s in some way back to square one – I’m at home just making tracks in the void. Maybe awareness of the tenuous nature of our collective wellbeing and forced solitude are helping me be, artistically, a bit more productive or something like that. But also I miss my friends and also am feeling just how much of a release being on a moderately populated dance floor is for me.
I lost my job as I did the design for various events, but now it is not relevant. In addition, some of my gigs have been cancelled. Now I have enough free time to make music, gain new knowledge and devote time to myself, my wife and my three dogs. I decided to recall old unfinished projects that may be of interest to the audience. I have long wanted to finish this track and now is the best time to stop procrastinating. It is a pity that all this happens under such circumstances. In fact, we are all very scared. People are left without work and without money. It is IMPOSSIBLE to be independent artists in Russia. But we are trying to survive!
For me being able to lock myself indoors when an epidemic breaks out feels like a privilege. My body is strong, I have a house, food and still certain luxuries. Investing too much in appearances and things on the outsides is a destructive path for me. Going inside is a self healing path that I’ve already experienced in 2018 when I was forced to take a step back from everything I was doing. I was socially inactive in real and digital life for almost a year, followed different kind of therapies 4 – 5 times a week, 2 – 4 hours a day for five months straight. Recovery is a full time job. In my free time I watched documentaries, sci-fi movies, anime series, read books, and produced music on a daily basis.
I didn’t listen to any electronic music, had no idea what was going on in the industry or nightlife, I only listened to old Congolese and reggae music, but what I produced at that time would still be described as techno. I’ve never been so calm and so full of inspiration and I wish everyone could experience this at least once in their lifetime. I also feel it’s my responsibility to take a step back frequently whether it’s because of a crisis or free will. When I became a father of a daughter, my priorities changed. If I improve who I am I will be a better person for myself, my family, friends and our planet. I can only go through a deep process of self reflection when I’m isolated, so I will use this time to reflect, to heal and to create again. This crisis is heartbreaking for all humanity, I wish everyone good health and strength in situations of personal grief or financial loss.
Being an artist in self isolation has been very difficult. I’m trying to make money from Bandcamp and streaming, checking in on friends and fam around the world, making sure I’m doing my best to support my fellow artists, get on the dole, stay focused and calm, not beat myself up too much if I don’t have the most artistically “productive” day and all the while trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel, if there is one. Each day is different. Sometimes I wake up feeling hopeful and productive and other times it’s all very grim. Day by day!
We had been wanting to work with our BFF Reece on a track for about a year now and had started a few projects but real life kept getting in the way. It’s funny when you have your own open ended deadlines it can be hard to pin stuff down or you want to overwork and obsess over a project to make it “perfect”. When we got offered to contribute a track and the timescale was just under three days it was a challenge we couldn’t resist. (We usually spend anything from a week to months on tracks) It’s already tough living in the city and the threat of a pandemic seemed to set the place on fire. The concept for the track was obvious. When you’re in the middle of all this it’s on your mind constantly.
We both lost our day jobs as soon as the virus hit and our gigs got cancelled too. Friends of ours had already gotten sick and we know people who lost folk already. Amazing artists we loved had started passing away as a result of the virus (Gabi Delgado, Nashom Wooden). You also see first hand the devastation that something like this does to already marginalised communities. Both living and working in East London it’s immediate to see how ignored and criminally underfunded these communities are by the government. We find it difficult to see people lash out at anyone’s decisions during these times when all they’re trying to do is protect their loved ones in the face of adversity. If anything we are proud of the love and support people are giving each other in this time when the Government has totally neglected everyone’s safety and rights. These are strange times we live in. In the instability though there is a new sense of community and DIY attitude that echoes past times in rave culture.
We made this track using our collection of old grooveboxes. We wanted it to be a London breakbeat acid love affair. A bit clashy, a bit cut n paste, and full speed energy. We got Reece to record the vocal using his phone with a t-shirt over it (a clean one obvs)!! This was to keep up the self isolation and help limit the spread!
Despite me trying to make a music career for the past five years of my life I’ve failed miserably and so I’ve never at all been a full or even part time DJ/producer. I wish all the best for my full time performers out there though at this time. In particular I want to wish all my musician friends in East Africa the best of luck as they’re also in lockdown and unfortunately don’t get things like universal credit or government support on their earnings. . Hold tight everyone. And remember, pineapple boosts your melatonin which will help you regulate your sleeping pattern and mood at this time 🙂
Even during periods of relative calm and stability in my life, making music is deeply centring for me. In uncertain and anxious times like what we’re experiencing right now, I feel especially grateful to be able to disappear into some noise for a while. Maybe this music can do something positive for you too when you listen.
Isolation Therapy is out now – grab your copy on our Bandcamp.