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Lockdown music diaries


Neal P. Corpus

Posted on October 19, 2020

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In difficult times, music makes life a little more livable — but how does it help those who make it?

It’s no secret that music plays a big role in our lives. Listening to music — whether it’s a favorite artist or an album that soundtracked a pivotal point in your life — has the power to help us through difficult times like these.

It also has the power to bring people together, especially during a time where we can’t physically be in the same spaces — the album releases of pop stars like Lady Gaga and Carly Rae Jepsen come to mind, for example. But what effect does it have on the people who make it?

Here, we ask four musicians of different backgrounds about how being locked down at home has affected their creative process, and how making music has helped them cope through the dreariness of isolation.

Pat Sarabia (Oh! Flamingo, Apartel)

Pat Sarabia is a drummer that plays with local bands Oh! Flamingo and Apartel, and is a partner at music label Offshore Music. Image from Pat Sarabia's Instagram

On recording remotely:

“Lockdown has forced me to be more resourceful and creative as a person and this also spills into my work. Since I primarily play drumset, pre-lockdown I was used to going to studios to do recordings. But since the studios were closed, I had to buy some gear so I could do home recordings.

It's tiring, to setup and press record, run around behind the kit, then when you mess up you have to start all over again cause there's no one there to help you. But ganun talaga, I guess. I'm also discovering more about drum machines because it's practical for writing songs and sending demos.”

On sharing her progress online:

“I’ve also taken more to social media more to share whatever projects I'm working on at the time. I've always been a bit more private with the things I share online, but so far the response has been positive.

I get random messages from people that I should post more drum videos and they are genuinely curious to hear more. That weirds me out, that people would actually be interested — I’m learning to accept that [Laughs].

I've maybe learned more this year so far than in the past few years of my life actively gigging around.”

On what she’s learned under quarantine:

“That I have a lot to learn, and the whole ‘being with the process’ thing is fun and not intimidating nor overwhelming. A lot of older musicians always give me that sort of advice — It makes more sense now.

When I was younger, it felt like I was in a race with myself. But with everything coming to halt, it gave me also a much needed break — mentally, emotionally, and all. I realized how much I had also burned myself out.

But these days, I play mostly for myself and no one else. So the focus is on me. And focusing on yourself is cool, taking care of yourself is cool. Actually even that in itself is its own learning! Overall, I'm happy the music nerd in me is still alive and well.”

Roberto Seña (She’s Only Sixteen, Lazy McGuire)

Roberto Seña is the lead singer of She's Only Sixteen. His solo project Lazy McGuire also recently released its first single. Image from Roberto Seña's Instagram

On the effects of lockdown:

“To be honest, I have never felt so focused. Being at home 90% of the time just forces me to be on my desk and tinkering with sounds and learning new things.

I learned how to play the piano, I watch production videos, listen to music with focused ears with the objective to learn how the songs I like are written and made. Pre-pandemic, I was very occupied with gigging, work and going out so it's hard to ever find the right time and energy to create.”

On his band’s songwriting process:

“[Our new single, Broken Glass] is a little different. King (Puentespina, drummer and producer) and I have been working on Ableton using this third party-app called Splice. It allows us to sync our projects together in a way Google Docs would work.

I would get on Discord with the band and we would verbally give our musical input and King and I would work on it.

I do miss jamming with them but this method has been quite effective too. We're allowing ourselves to really explore different sounds without being restrained by being a four-piece guitar heavy band.”

On his coping mechanisms:

“What the lockdown has taught me is that music or creativity isn't a stress reliever but it is actually more of a manifestation of it. Music is my passion but it is also my livelihood, and it's tough dancing between the lines of having fun and making something that will provide me opportunities for myself and my bandmates.

It's a lot of give and take. It's kept me busy for sure but It doesn't help me cope. I would say that people in the creative industry now should find something else to cope rather than using work or their passion to escape the never ending anxiety that COVID-19 has given us.

My bandmates and I also picked up biking! It's been great.”

Ena Mori (ena mori)

One of very few truly pop musicians in the country, Ena Mori recently released a new single while under quarantine in Japan with family. Image from Ena Mori's Instagram

On making music under quarantine in Japan:

“I was never a fan of the idea of isolation, but for some reason, I've become more inspired compared to the beginning of this year. I think the reason behind it is that I've never isolated myself this much, and being away from the Philippines and writing music gave me a lot of new ideas that I wouldn't think of.”

On how music has helped her cope:

“Music has been not just my escape but it's what I'm designed to do every day at this point! The time I'm writing is where I become focused and truly myself and it helps with my emotions especially loneliness.”

On what she’s realized during the pandemic:

“I think the most eye-opening thing was how much I was wasting my time. When you are busy socially, you don't get to see the time you're spending, and now that we are home and no place to go, I realized there is so much time to do so many things.

I’ve also discovered how much music means to me. When I look back, I sometimes took music for granted. Maybe because it is part of my daily routine, but with the isolation and constantly hanging out with myself.

I've realized music is truly my passion, and there's so much growth needed in me professionally and creatively.”

Cru Camara (No Haircuts, Where’s Rinko?)

A photographer by trade, Cru Camara is rediscovering her music roots. Image from Cru Camara's Instagram

On transitioning from photography to music:

“During the beginning of lockdown, a couple of friends and I started the Offshoot Online Gallery which paired musicians and visual artists together to create work to sell to raise funds for donations.

I was always interested in the intersection of visual and aural art, so hearing and seeing all the submissions inspired me to try it out. I was also quarantined with Pat Sarabia and Jermaine Choa Peck who encouraged me to start playing music again.

I started out by picking up the bass guitar, and slowly moved into electronic music production.”

On evolving as a musician:

“I grew up playing classical violin and I eventually got burnt out and stopped for around eight years or so. I spent a lot of time playing other people's music and I realized I had a hard time making my own stuff.

I was also very self-conscious of the music I was attempting to make. When lockdown happened and I didn't have much photo work coming in, I decided to start playing again and made it a point to not put any pressure on myself.

I just wanted to make music without any fear of judgement from other people. I really just make music for myself now and to get some creative energy out since my photography has been in a slump. It's a freeing experience knowing I can do whatever I want in regards to music.”

On how music has helped her cope:

Music is definitely my lifeline right now. It lets me express all the mental and physical stress I'm feeling. Whenever I have a free day (which is pretty often these days), the first thing I do is get up and make music, and it's also the last thing I do before I go to bed.

I rarely make anything I want to keep, but it doesn't matter. I just put whatever I'm feeling into what I'm making, and after that, it's done. I can scrap it if I want to, or I can keep it for future use. It feels like absolute freedom.

Looking to upgrade your music-listening gear? Good headphones or speakers are a must for making our days a little bit better — here are our recommendations.

Investing in quality sound is a must for these isolating times.

Check out these stores for some music to your ears, literally:

Bose: Alabang Town Center, Ayala Malls Manila Bay, Glorietta, Greenbelt, and TriNoma

Sony: Ayala Malls Feliz, Glorietta, TriNoma, Ayala Malls Capitol Central, Ayala Center Cebu, Ayala Malls Solenad, Centrio Mall, and Harbor Point

JB Music (Audio-Technica): Alabang Town Center, Glorietta, TriNoma, Ayala Center Cebu, and Centrio Mall

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