Clearly, the infamous Covid restrictions have been rather hard on artists. Accustomed to producing music in the company of co-creators may now seem impossible, but that didn’t prevent these emerging acts to superstars who couldn’t contain the burgeoning passion to keep at their craft. They went from tapping the brakes to stepping on the gas, using alternate routes to remove blocks in a creative mode.
Acting swiftly upon realising the extent of this pandemic and that some good things just can’t wait, nudged America's sweetheart Taylor Swift to release her album Folklore, soon after it was announced.
It was a surprise move, even for Swift herself, as she confessed to being someone who would always carefully consider the timing of her new releases.
She described that her isolation was whipping at her imagination to run wild and free – to pen songs inspired by many of her illustrious episodes in life.
“Picking up a pen was my way of escaping into fantasy, history, and memory,” she said in her primer for Folklore.
Swift built a home studio and recorded Folklore with co-producers Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff remotely. The process was well, doable, simply by transferring digital files with instrumentals and vocals to one another.
For super-spin-star deejay and producer David Guetta, the many feelings of despair people experienced during the pandemic inspired him to reach out to singer-songwriter Sia about releasing a single together.
His “message in a bottle” to her was a text revealing that music can remind people to overcome negativity during trying times.
“We need to do something for the world, everybody is so down, and I feel like people are turning against each other. This is terrible and we should write a song about going through this together and not against each other,” he said in an interview with Forbes
Guetta and Sia released the upbeat 1980s-inspired single Let’s Love.
The duo recorded the track separately with Guetta sending Sia some piano chords from Miami and the singer-songwriter responding back with a ballad from an undisclosed location.
Guetta later mixed the track on his spinnin laptop and Let’s Love was born.
With lyrics like “This too shall pass, / and we'll get through it all together …” the song serves as a wonderful reminder that all will soon be well.
Can’t stop the love
John Legend was brilliant at encapsulating the feeling of togetherness despite being physically apart in his music video for the groovy number, Bigger Love.
Released last year, the music video featured clips from fans across the globe, dancing to Bigger Love and sharing heart-warming moments together in lockdown. Legend even included a snippet of his daughter Luna telling him that it’s time to play.
He told People that the music video was made possible by asking fans to submit videos.
Legend wanted the video to deliver messages of hope and it was his way of reaching people to remind them to stay strong during the pandemic.
“We're all using technology to stay in touch and finding creative ways to cope and we wanted the video to be a big musical hug for people around the world who are finding ways to stay connected to family, help their neighbours and make time for a needed dance break despite the crazy circumstances we find ourselves in,” he said.
Bigger Love now has more than two million views on YouTube.
For some musicians, being in lockdown meant adapting and finding new ways to express creativity. Swedish deejay Alesso released the music video for Midnight, a track featuring Liam Payne where the duo filmed their part separately.
Alesso included clips of himself producing the track at this studio in Los Angeles while Payne got a friend to record him performing the song at his rooftop in London.
The result may lack the glossy production value of a typical dance video, but it was heartfelt and showcased a sense of vulnerability that makes the song seem more emotional.
“For me personally, just to be able to go outside my house, perform a song on the balcony and just sing it the way I wanted to perform it rather than have people telling me how to move or what to do, or anything like that. It was very much our video and I’m proud of that,” he said.
Creating music in the presence of another might be a distant dream for now but the pandemic-led isolation has increasingly popularised remote music collabs that have evidently become a silver lining for creative outputs.
And here’s where Payne stressed that it’s important for musicians to keep releasing new materials as music has a way of healing people in dire straits.
“I just think it’s important to still have stuff coming through to bring a little bit of sunshine to everybody’s day.”
Cover Image: Chillhop/YouTube
Writer l JEM
I like Pina Colada and getting caught in the rain. Not into yoga. Wait, how does that song go again?