• Julia Coin

Creating in Quarantine

I get at least seven (yes, I counted) notifications for livestreams every day.

The beloved internet has let artists create quarantine-friendly content, allowing viewers to steal glimpses into artists’ workspaces, garages, or bedrooms. Sometimes you may be treated to a cameo of a family member obliviously walking through the frame of a video.

While this new mode of concert-going may not be ideal for the artists or the fans, it’s simply what we have to work with right now.

Pastel Palms raised $125 dollars for COVID-19 relief during their last livestream.

Joel Roberson, the vocalist and guitarist for the dream pop band, said the idea for the streamed concert came after his friend’s uncle passed away from COVID-19.

“I did it to try and cheer them up,” he said. “Because I really can’t do anything besides that. I can try to help and raise money, but that’s about it.”

Roberson said he wouldn’t stop until their goal was met. He played for four hours.

The charitable nature of the livestream convinced Roberson to follow through with it. Otherwise he wouldn’t have been completely on board.

“I actually think they’re horrendously cringey,” he said.

“I think it’s very vapid and self-absorbed, to be honest with you. Like why would I want to sit down and watch you on your f*cking phone camera as you perform songs with bad audio?

“I don't want that. But I’m only doing it because of the fact that it’s actually helping people.”

Roberson said he would like to see Speed Demon Records put on a collaborative livestream to raise more money to donate to relief funds. Shane Malone, the founder and creative director of SDR, confirmed that this was in the works.

“I think that’d be a big sign of solidarity,” Roberson said.

An influx of posts and shares on Instagram, aside from livestream notifications, also floods feeds day after day. Now that the initial shock from the abrupt introduction to social distancing has worn off, people are spending more time on social media. That means more opportunities for small artists to increase exposure and focus on growth.

“People underestimate how far a repost on your Instagram story goes,” said Malone.

One post can reach thousands of people just through shares alone. A couple hundred followers here, a few thousand there and numbers quickly skyrocket.

“Spread the love,” said Chase Pittman, “spread it like a wildfire.”

The actor, rapper and singer who creates under the alias “Ashton Chase” saw just how powerful social media can be when his latest album “Beauty Trap” was met with a flood of support in the form of Instagram stories.

Streaming concerts and doing deep dives on Spotify can take up a lot of time, but we all know quarantined days tend to drag on. Our artists have been taking advantage of this surplus of time to set ideas in motion.

“It feels like it’s some sort of dystopian future or something,” Pittman said. “There is some kind of silver-lining… it’s a time for artists to really be able to have their work be heard and tell stories.”

Despite a spike in anxiety, something many can relate to, Pittman's quarantine hasn’t been all that different from his regular life. He said he normally opts to spend his time watching movies, playing video games and listening to music anyway.

“I’m just trying to flex the creative muscle every day,” he said. “Whether that’s making demos or writing poems or whatever the case may be.”

Anthony Nguyen, who creates under the name "Naynoth," released his first collaboration "Sakura Princess" during this time. It featured none other than Speed Demon's own, Ashton Chase.

The single provides an escape into a spacey, relaxing world. Nguyen, who looks at his music as more of a hobby, said watching this release was one of the best things that happened during quarantine.

"If my music help people relax, calm down, or just vibe during this time, that makes me happy," he said.

Roberson, of Pastel Palms, said the early release of their latest album, “Subsonic-Daydreams,” was largely due to the time quarantine provided.

“If it wasn’t for corona it would’ve taken us like two years to make this thing,” he said.

Many of the songs were produced through solely remote collaboration among Roberson, Andrew Simpson, the drummer, and Andrew Heinzman, the bassist.

The result was a 12-song album with each song capturing the essence of each month. Feel free to join me in vicariously living out your now-canceled summer dreams while listening to "April" through "August."

Pastel Palms also released their single "St. Augustine" in April.

Sometimes creativity can’t be demanded. Livan Becerra, who creates under the name “Helladusty,” was stumped for the first few weeks of quarantine.

He went from releasing his album “Secret Sueños” and his single “Cheap Imitation” while working two jobs to losing his job due to COVID-19. The influx in free time was not immediately met with an increase in inspiration.

“It’s kind of like you get a random flow or idea,” he said. “It’s not going to depend on if you have time or not.”

An unfortunate but conveniently timed breakup inspired his last two quarantine creations.

“I think when it happened I was like ‘OK’ I have stuff to write about, I have things to let out,” he said.

“Even though it was a bad thing, I still looked for the positive in it, and that’s when I started creating stuff from the heart.”

While everyone is in quarantine, everyone is not experiencing the same thing.

Ashton Chase experienced a spike in anxiety when he moved back to Jacksonville, Florida, after Otterbein University closed its campus and canceled its productions (many of which he was either in or looking forward to).

Shane Malone found himself with more time to develop Speed Demon Records, releasing a summer merch line and bringing on three new artists, Driptones, Indigo Waves and Ocean Child. He was also hit with inspiration and was creating two new songs a day.

Pastel Palms’ Joel Roberson lost his job and had to start working at his mom’s restaurant because she couldn’t afford to hire anyone else when her own income abruptly stopped.

From breakups to mental health to just feeling like there’s too much and simultaneously not enough time in a day, we’re all going through something different.

It’s important that we try to stay connected the best we can through screens and socially distanced encounters, but we should also remember those who don’t have as much time to devote to creativity right now. Remember the essential workers, the health care workers, and the more than four million people fighting COVID-19.

Let us know what you’ve been doing during this time!

Is there an organization you’ve noticed doing a lot of good for the world right now?

Aside from checking in on the Speed Demon Records Instagram and keeping up with all the livestreams, what have been your favorite pastimes? Your favorite songs? Your favorite shows?

Drop a comment… we could all use some inspiration on how to change things up a bit.

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