Finding Joy in Quarantine
I like to think that I'm the kind of person that plans for the unexpected, but let me tell you, this was the last thing I expected to happen in 2020. For the band and I, 2020 was set to be the accumulation of all the hard work and experience we gained in 2019. We had an EP in the works, a banging single launch, our first main stage festival performance and an SA tour planned. And those adventures were all leading to the UK tour that we were meant to leave for next week. Obviously the universe had other plans.
Denial: The show will go on.....right?
Well, like most people, when we first heard about a little virus that was causing waves in China, we didn't think much of it. I know it may seem like forever ago, but if you can think back to early 2020, this was around the same time as the Australian fires, the 'invasion' of Area 51 and a casual threat of nuclear war with North Korea. A little virus in China, similar to the flu, didn't seem like something to worry about.
I remember the day that we ordered 300 'Alanna Joy' lighters. The virus had been found in Europe and Italy was reporting increasing numbers. We still didn't think much of it. Our single launch was less than a month away and we were in full on planning mode. We organised artists to display their work, we had booked our opening bands and we had even bought all the decorations. Funnily enough we bought our decorations at China town and the lady at the teller said they had run out of certain products because their shipments from China were stopped due to the virus. It still didn't really register that this was a big deal.
Anger: Who bought all the f-ing webcams?!
We managed to play one last show, on the 14th of March. We were definitely still in denial, even telling everyone to come join us at our upcoming single launch and hugging fans and shaking hands. I must say, it was pretty darn beautiful.
Exactly a week later we were in lockdown.
A week or two before lockdown I had the incredible foresight to order a webcam on Takealot (you know, just in case). Of course, with our luck, it was scheduled to arrive on the day that lockdown started. It soon became clear that it would not be delivered, as all non-essential items were banned from sale. Charlie and Fudgie, bless their souls, were subject to numerous rants about how webcams should be considered essential because we need to live stream to survive and about how if I had just ordered it a few days earlier we might have gotten it in time.
The day before lockdown we drove around town searching for webcams and wine (for those that don't know, alcohol is still currently banned in SA under lockdown). Of course none were to be found (because the whole world was now using zoom to work) and a stressed out, obsessively sanitised Alanna arrived home with no webcam, only wine. The wine helped...
Bargaining: The worlds ending, but here's my new single!
We had no wifi, no webcam and no idea how streaming software worked but within a week we had downloaded OBS and completed our first live stream using Charlie's iPhone as a makeshift webcam and my cellphone's data hotspot as Wifi. The signal was often choppy and it felt so very strange to talk and perform to a cellphone camera but we were determined to make it work.
We dropped two singles (with music videos), created and edited promo content, held virtual single launches and did interviews - all whilst hoping that if we just worked hard enough, we could make up for the things that we had lost. But it wasn't just gigs that we lost, but our freedom of movement, our ability to see and connect with people as well as any sense of financial security we thought we had before. It was in some ways a blessing to stay busy, but as one might suspect, it eventually led to the next stage...
Depression: Was the world always this sh*t?
Burn out is the shared truth of our generation. With a hundred horrible news stories on our timelines everyday, we are caught between wanting to be aware/vocal about issues and not letting the weight of the world consume us. Perhaps it's because we are now locked inside with less daily distractions, but this has never felt more true.
Couple this with the grand expectations we have of ourselves and our frustration at the inability to achieve them right now, and it can all feel a little hopeless. Don't get me wrong, we have definitely reached some milestones this year and we are very blessed to have such amazing support from our families, friends and fans, but one can't help but wonder if this dream will ever truly be realised.
Acceptance: Are we there yet?
I might be writing this prematurely. The world may deal with the trauma caused by this pandemic for years to come and perhaps acceptance is still a little far off. Every now and then I get this pain in my chest when I realise how much I miss live shows and hugs and connecting with people in real life. But at the same time, I have found myself accustomed to a new way of life.
I find Joy in the little things;
Dancing in the kitchen and cooking new dishes
Remembering there is an outside world and going to look at the sky
Not having to wear jeans (I don't know if they even fit anymore and I don't care)
Ordering stuff online (I don't know about you, but even ordering groceries online gives me a little rush)
Connecting with you guys during our live streams.
It has been really weird to play to a camera and computer screen and not see your beautiful faces in the crowd, but we've found the Joy in that too. We started streaming almost daily on a new platform called Sessions Live. It's really new and it isn't perfect, but it's run by a passionate team that seems to really care about creating a safe, easy platform for musicians to make money, especially during this time. A few of you have already found your way onto Sessions and its been so cool to chat with you guys in real-time and tailor our set list according to your requests. It may not be as magical as a live show, but in some ways, it is even more intimate.
We still have no idea what the future will hold and we cannot be sure when finances will allow for new releases etc. but we do promise to continue making music for as long as you will listen and we invite you to join us on Sessions Live as we continue to find the Joy in these hard times.