Music on Lockdown: 7 Artists on the Devastating Impact of Lockdowns on their Livelihood - Part 1
2020 is coming to an end and I think I can speak on behalf of most of us in saying good riddance. It’s not quite as simple as that however, with the year destroying a lot of what we knew, especially in the creative space, it’s left many people on a cliff-hanger not knowing what the next move is.
We took this time to speak directly to some of our favourite artists and discuss with them what the impact of Covid and the lockdowns have been; mentally, physically and emotionally, and what this has meant for their art both past, present and future.
As UKF’s “One’s to Watch” in 2018, Koherent have paved their way with a series of consistently high-quality releases that have caught the attention of label powerhouses such as Shogun and Flexout Audio. Luke and Josh sat down with us to discuss the situation from their perspectives
Lockdown has been a step into the unknown for everyone. For us personally, we've managed to stay productive, but we've had to find some new methods to keep ourselves motivated and focused on beat making. Thankfully we both have separate jobs outside of music that we've been able to rely on - so we haven't been affected as much as I know many have in these troubling times.
We both have studio setups at home, which has been a blessing in disguise
At the start of lockdown in March we were fully focused on creating original material for our next EP, however in this 2nd lockdown we’ve since finished that project and we're now taking a short break to reflect which we think is really important - as this can clear your mind and give you energy to start afresh for the next projects.
We both have studio setups at home, which has been a blessing in disguise! We're both set up with custom-built PCs and Komplete Kontrol keyboards. Hardware-wise have a Access Virus TI & Novation Bass Station II
Initially, in the first lockdown with social media you could play into the theme and post entertaining content related to this and get high engagement. As lockdown has dragged on (and 2020 for this matter) this type of content has become quite saturated and everyone’s a bit bored of it now. It has become more difficult to set yourself apart but it can be done with some thought.
There have been plenty of positives however for sure. The fact that there’s so many live-streams available to watch now which there weren’t before is a big plus, as it enables exposure for some lesser-known artists, leveling the playing field a bit.
Have you wondered how someone with as many simultaneously spinning plates as AL/SO has coped in 2020? Have a read of our discussion below to find out
Half my life's work just went up in smoke
At the beginning of Lockdown I did a lot of crying to tell you the truth. I run most of Korsakovs stuff abroad on top of doing the label and agency and I had entire world tours about to be announced for both our brands (Korsakov & Korsakov Music) on top of almost all of my agency artists (8 of them) and as both my DJ / Producer projects (AL/SO and Ancient Radius), so the money we all collectively saw evaporating was easily into six figures. That's only dwarfed by the fact that half my life's work just went up in smoke.
Mostly I’ve spent my time just honing my production skills a lot so I can come out of lockdown guns blazing. I've got the most basic of setups and the single worst acoustic treatment of any studio you'll see. It's impossible to even remotely rig that room to a decent acoustic standard, so I mainly work on my Sennheiser 600s.
Other than that I've recently started my own PR & Management company called Van Oak Management & PR and I've already got a bunch of high profile jobs for it so that's bound to keep me alive for a while. We're also working on a huge new Korsakov venture that we'll be launching in 2021 that is highly resistant against any sort of pandemic.
Having to cancel my own major breakthrough (37 international shows cancelled including an Australia / New Zealand tour, around 50 if you count in the USA tour I was plotting) was a terrible heartbreaker
Another problem for me is that the location has just been home, home, home, home, home. I can't stand being in the same spot for more than 1/2 week so I've been feeling like a rat in a cage for months now. Usually, I leave the country once a month for 1/2 week to go on business trips or play gigs and that is the sole reason I stay sane. It's been tough.
As a positive, Social Media was quite good for a while but now with the second lockdown hitting it seems the entire world has just given up. Socials have crashed, engagement is a fraction of what it used to be, and so it’s been hard taking any real positives from the situation personally. I've spent a lot of time making music, but since I've had trouble dragging myself out of bed for a while I would probably have been in studio the same amount of time in a normal world with a hell of a lot more motivation.
In terms of what’s next for me as an artist, a lot more lonely days and nights longing for better times and for the world to stop being so goddamn stupid. Again, I've been spending a lot of time writing and making music and I've got a LOT coming across my two projects, so that's something I guess. Having to cancel my own major breakthrough (37 international shows cancelled including an Australia / New Zealand tour, around 50 if you count in the USA tour I was plotting) was a terrible heartbreaker so I've made sure I can come out of lockdown ready to go.
Opus is no stranger to any fan of Dubstep, with numerous brilliant releases on the likes of Crucial, White Peach and Chestplate to name just a few. With the year not going to plan for almost anyone, it was interesting to hear from the man himself about how he has been coping.
To be honest this lockdown is much harder than the first one, even though I’m in a better financial position. I was in a relationship throughout the first and now I’m not, plus even though I was stuck for money, it still felt like a kind of holiday; an excuse to just sit back and focus on myself for a bit without any distraction.
Writing music was harder because I simply just wasn’t experiencing as much in day-to-day life as I was before, but that also felt like a nice break. This time round it’s way bleaker, although I’m writing lots of music.
I currently have 2 big projects that I’m involved in. One is a very exciting solo thing that I can’t speak about yet, but if you’re following my Instagram stories you’ll be getting bits and pieces from it! The other is collaboration with a new rap collective based in Bristol. We’ve got features from some sick rappers locked in and the boys are killing it so far.
This lockdown is much harder than the first one
I’m currently producing on an iMac, with Focal Alpha 80 monitors. I’ve got a Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A49 midi keyboard and it all runs though an Audient iD14 interface. I’ve got CDJs down in the living room too. I moved house before the 2nd lockdown so there is nothing in terms of room treatment - it’s long overdue though!
In general, due to the increased social media activity that comes with having your freedom restricted I have noticed the Internet becoming a much more polarised and toxic place. People are falling out with each other like never before and I am certainly guilty of falling into that trap too. I think one of the only silver linings to come from COVID is that companies have realised how feasible working from home is for a range of different sectors. Another more temporary positive outcome has been its effect on the environment.
In terms of shows, I’m talking about possible tours over in the USA for next year/whenever we can and that’s really exciting to me because I had to cancel one that was planned in July. In terms of my development as an artist - I’m branching out and creating just exactly what I want to with the solo project I’m working on and this is very liberating. Maybe the music on it will reach a broader audience than my dubstep stuff, which is an exciting thought.
Support Opus best by buying his music directly from White Peach Records, as all the revenue goes directly to him. He’s just had a new EP with them this year so it’s still fresh!
207 is one of Croatia’s premium dubstep exports with releases on huge labels such as Sentry, Gourmet beats and Duploc. He sat down with us to talk 2020.
Learning new life techniques on how to make money and keep my head straight
The lockdown situation has actually made me start working on myself more and learning new life techniques on how to make money and keep my head straight. I’ve been taking the time to do a lot of things outside of music, including renovating my house and planning my life after Corona.
The convenient thing is that I have also worked on all of my music from home, so I don’t have to go anywhere or have any limitations on where I can go now to produce. I’ve never liked the idea of going somewhere out of home just to make music, I’ve always loved to have studio next to the kitchen and my sofa!
I’ve currently got a lot of music in the making and my next vinyl will be released on Joe Nice’s Gourmet Beats after the New Year.
Connect with 207
140 DJ Producer and member of Volumen crew Proove has been making some waves over his relatively short time in the scene with a number of great releases and mix features. He took some time to discuss with us the effects on lockdown from Pula, Croatia
Currently, I’ve been working on some collabs and solo projects, just 140 bits as usual, trying to not start new projects before finishing old ones. To be honest it’s not quite going as I would like but I’ll get there at some point. I’m also recording an all production guestmix for my good friend Korda which will be broadcast later this month – I’d definitely love to finish more tunes for that so that’s a goal for sure.
Most of my projects are started on my laptop on my headphones at work. My working hours are specific as I work in the navy and I have 7 day shifts where besides work I also have a lot of time for myself... later in the process I move on and finish my tracks at home in my room on a better PC where I can use better VST’s for mixing and stuff like that.
My setup at home is fairly simple– I’ve got my PC, Laptop, Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 250 Ohms headphones + Sennheiser HD-25, KRK RP8 RoKit G2, an old M Audio fast track and Korg Minilogue. The thing is that I’m only like 2 and half years in this production game and even I don’t know what I want/need from gear. I’m learning day by day and I don’t want to rush with buying anything more than I have at the moment but I’m looking forward to exploring and finding something new and useful for my workflow.
For social media I’m using SoundCloud from early days and it’s the very first place you can hear my latest projects. I’m trying to upload one clip per month to keep my followers updated. I also recently released my first EP on there too, which is a great improvement for me. On top of that I’ve recently started my Facebook fan page where I presented the video for my track 052.
In terms of positives for this time I’ve actually found I’m much more productive, with less distractions and more studio time. I’ve also been spending a lot more time in nature…more hikes with less bar trips and things like that.
As a result, I’ve got some upcoming releases confirmed but it’s way too early to talk about them. Over these few years, I have learned that in this industry some things that are mentioned or agreed upon are very often not realized so it makes no sense for me to announce anything until it happens. I learned that on other producers situations... so yeah...wish me luck.
Other than that the plan is just to do my stuff. I’ve had a really big boost after some of my favorite artists played my music on their shows, so I’m enjoying that feeling and trying to use it to do my thing as best as I can.
Hailing from Serbia, Nemy is one of the hottest up and coming Drum and Bass producers from the Balkans, with stellar releases on the likes of ProgRAM, Delta9 and Skankandbass.
Lockdowns have been bad for me, both psychologically and financially; I hope that is going to end soon
COVID and the Lockdowns have been bad for me, both psychologically and financially; I hope that is going to end soon. This year I had more free time for making music than usual. I also created a Patreon page where I'm uploading new samples every week. Currently, I’m working from home with my lovely room operating as my studio. One thing that has been noticeable is that people are spending even more time on social media then before. For some people it's really bad, they are showing a lot of anger and depression through lockdown.
I’ve personally used this situation for developing my skills in music production. I'm always trying to create good music and reach new levels in production.
Support NEMY via his Patreon to receive quality samples, patches, tutorials, dubs, and feedbacks
Alex Cobe aka Sub:Liminal, one of the most exciting new liquid artists coming out of Romania shared his thoughts on how 2020 has affected him and his work.
Nobody was expecting this to happen
Lockdown was pretty rough in the beginning. Nobody was expecting this to happen and I think it was really important to stay strong no matter what. In the beginning, I think it affected me financially and I can say it’s been a while until I got back to a decent situation.
One positive however is that I’ve had plenty of time to work on new music thanks to the lockdown. I’ve been also working on my first phase on PhD and I can admit that the time given for these things wouldn’t the same.
I’ve been working from home for almost three and a half months. The advantage in this was that I have the studio in my apartment so it didn’t affect any access. In the studio I’m using a Macbook Pro Late 2015, Steinberg Cubase Artist 9.5, a pair of Adam T7V’s, Focusrite Clarett 2Pre USB and an M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3 Keyboard.
Social media activity is a bit higher now than it used to be. I think the reach on posts is a bit lower than it was but that depends on what you are actually posting. This has been something difficult to navigate.
I really think that with all the madness happening now we should try to keep ourselves healthy and safe, and definitely making more music. I think after this pandemic will end the amount of good music made will be of great significance.
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