Life has changed beyond all recognition for most of us since COVID-19 forced us into lockdown. Fears over our health and our livelihood have left us with a tangible sense of dread as we attempt to continue with our days, generally from home, in as “normal” a fashion as possible. This virus is the great leveler — most of us are in the same boat. We spoke to a handful of L.A.-area musicians about their own experiences over the past few weeks…
Aimie Lovett Sommer, Loretti
I am a musician with a day job. Most of us are, but I actually have the good fortune of being able to work during the current quarantine and it is something I deeply appreciate. Prior to the pandemic I had plans to release new music this spring, a common story for L.A. indie artists. I have four songs recorded at MooseCat Recording, a studio owned by Carly Rosenthal and Mike Post. Post recorded, co-produced and mixed the EP, and Will Borza mastered it. I’m very excited and proud of these songs, which are the first Loretti offerings since 2014. With PR and release shows on hold, my focus is on content I can continue to produce and release, i.e. three new music videos. My situation is stable, and I am not taking that for granted. Every day I hear about my fellow musicians and promoters losing their livelihood and it’s absolutely heartbreaking and frustrating. Both their income from the music business along with their freelancing and side gigs have evaporated… I may have buried the lead, but my day job, for which I am blessed to have, is that I am an RN working at a local hospital during the pandemic. I am equally grateful to have music and my community as an outlet during this stressful time. To be of service to both the medical and music populations is an honor that I do not take lightly. I know that connection and support is how we will all get through this terrible time in our history.
Mike Berault, Bite Me Bambi
Today I made chili. Yesterday, I tried to remember all the songs I knew by heart on guitar. I blew through the ska stuff pretty easy but it was somewhere in the Bob Mould/Sugar/Husker Du section that lost it and got stuck. In many ways a small band like Bite Me Bambi is better suited for a pandemic quarantine situation, I mean… surviving to make music is our everyday struggle living in the L.A./O.C. area. The good news is: We are small and nimble, we can change strategies for touring or productions on a dime. Try to do that if you’re Radiohead, or Imagine Dragons, or whatever. Bad news is: It takes a while to get on the radar of booking agents and promoters, and hard to regain lost momentum that has been earned pre-pandemic.
Kakophonix, Hvile I Kaos
The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent quarantine affected me in much the same way as they did other musicians, and indeed those of all disciplines. My teaching job closed its doors, my live gigs were canceled, and my band had a grand total of one rehearsal before such gatherings became obsolete. In short, I lost work and income, just like everyone else.
As such, I’ve fallen back on my ability to record and compose from home. I have worked as a session cellist, primarily in the black metal scene, for several years now, and writing for my own band has always been something I can do in isolation. The quarantine, however long it ends up lasting, has afforded me a unique opportunity not only to expand upon this essential aspect of my work, but also to reflect upon what makes my chosen artistic trajectory truly unique, from both a practical and spiritual standpoint.
Zambricki Li, Magic Giant
Magic Giant got home to Los Angeles from a two month tour on March 7 and it was like being dropped back into a different city. The first couple of days we were all laying low anyway, with life-hangovers from playing 60+ shows. We started listening to Sam Harris’ podcast Making Sense where he went into the concept of social distancing early on so we just rolled our tour recovery into harboring in place. On March 17, I did a stealth mission to our recording studio in Silver Lake and pulled microphones, recording equipment, instruments, all the wires: the basic stuff so we could write and make records from home. Even looking back Shakespeare wrote King Lear during the Spanish Flu. Some people are really struggling out there, so if we can do our job and create art in this time it’s probably the best use of it.
We were supposed to go back out on tour in April, supporting our new single “Disaster Party” which we originally wrote about how the wildfires in Los Angeles brought neighborhoods together in unexpected ways. Now we’re seeing what we can do from here to help out in small ways from home.
Magic Giant threw an Instagram festival called “Live from Quarantine” on our Instagram page last Sunday supporting MusiCares, which helps out the road crews and different people in all aspects of the music industry get insurance and help get their bills paid.