Artist Dispatch: A look at the creative process during COVID-19

Artist Dispatch: A look at the creative process during COVID-19
Artist DispatchMay 19, 2020

COVID-19 has undoubtedly disrupted many industries, including our beloved music industry. Album releases have been postponed, and all live shows have been canceled until an unknown later date, putting artists’ already tenuous livelihood on shakier ground. But, things aren’t all doom and gloom. Artists are working harder than ever to share their music and connect with fans through creative livestreams, quarantine collaborations and more. 

We wanted to get a real glance at what it means to be a musician during this time, so we gathered a group of Sofar alumni, spanning Sydney to Seattle to Toronto, to weigh in. Twice a week, they’ll be sharing their thoughts on different topics related to this crazy time we’re all in. First we asked them:

What’s your creative process been like during this period? How is it different? Has anything surprised you about creating music right now?

During this time, the creative process has looked a little different as we are quarantined away from each other. We've been recording voice notes and sending them back and forth with new ideas we have as they surface. It's also been nice to take a little bit of a "break" from creating music. We're both finding creativity in other places and trying not to put too much pressure to always be in create-mode during this time. We’re now more inspired to dive into our personal musicality and are so looking forward to when our music can merge again. 

- Kathleen and Aubrey of LVDY, Denver

I've been writing a whole bunch of music for solo piano. Usually I create a solo piano piece/idea then workshop it with the boys (Bob Hamilton on double bass and Liam Paul Hogan on drums) until we turn it into a trio tune. Since we haven't been able to meet up, I've been finishing them on my own, drawing influence from Tigran Hamasyan's solo records and the works of Ólafur Arnalds. The whole creative process has definitely been much more difficult.

- Taylor of Brekky Boy,Sydney

When quarantine first started I was worried about maintaining creativity and sources of inspiration. I’ve become really appreciative of community members who have created livestream shows that still provide opportunities for musicians to share their music and bring people together. Listening to artists play their music in an intimate setting has been a huge source of writing inspiration for me. Despite being physically apart, my musician friends and I have been making use of video chats to create new music together.  

- Tissa Rahim, Vancouver

As of yet, I haven’t had the luxury of time to sit and create much as I’ve been teaching children’s music classes virtually and playing live shows on Instagram and Facebook.

When I do have a moment to breathe and am not hustling to generate revenue to pay bills, I find that I want to play and create more upbeat music. I came into these times already experiencing some extenuating circumstances so I feel like keeping it light when I can has been the only way not to drown. 

- Vivian Garcia, Chicago

Honestly, the creative process has been very interesting. We have been in survival mode, hustling in new ways to make incomes. I started doing online grocery orders for a small business and helping them with deliveries. (Bandmate) Gabe started cooking more and doing Live classes, as well as selling his food (quiche) through the grocery store I’ve been doing deliveries for. We’ve been writing, but mostly, many of our other strengths that we acquired while on the road and on tour have been used in creative ways during the shelter-in-place. 

- Myra of Stereo RV, Seattle

My creative process has been pretty sporadic. I thought that since I have more time to create due to canceled gigs and events, I would be writing more, but it’s actually been the opposite. I’ve been putting my energy mostly into getting equipment for livestreams and learning how that works, which is taking some time away from actually creating and composing.

- Yasmin Williams, Baltimore

It’s been pretty smooth, probably because there’s a lot to think about at the moment. That combined with the isolation has had me writing a bit more than usual. 

- Clarence James, Austin

My creative process is reformed. It used to be fed by the live music I'd go see, the people I'd hang out with, and now it's more self-oriented. I include hobbies I've picked up (playing games with friends online, watching TV — neither of which I used to do) and find myself inspired by them. I'm learning more about myself and what I like in interesting ways.

- Kiaran aka Kubla, Toronto

My creative process has been internally focused compared to my usual creative output of music production, songwriting, designing, filmmaking, etc. I was a bit thrown off because I thought that the silver lining would be an opportunity to write and record more, instead this period has been used to create new habits and functions of personal/internal expansion.


Thanks to all of these artists for sharing their thoughts with us, and we’ll be back on Thursday to find out more about how the pandemic has affected their music career. 

In the meantime, join us daily in Sofar’s listening room for livestreams, where you can donate directly to the performing artists.

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