As schools and businesses everywhere closed down for a few months this year, students found themselves with lots of free time. For some, creative juices started to flow. Creatives everywhere had some time to hone their craft and create some magic in the midst of the pandemic.
Student band “New Colors” planned to release a full album this summer, a project that was postponed when the band left campus in March. They were able to release their single, “Safe” on June 15.
“Luckily, we actually had ‘Safe’ recorded already,” lead singer and guitarist Gerald Potts said. “We were actually planning to release an album last summer but after the pandemic hit we couldn’t get into a studio to finish what we started. We will be releasing an EP this winter, though.”
Due to the physical restrictions, the band had to take a different route when approaching promotion for the single.
“It was odd because we didn’t have live shows to promote which is how I reached most of our following,” Potts said. “We ended up using a lot of social media and paid for more advertisement.”
“One of the new things we did was have an ‘Instagram Live’ chat where we talked about band updates and the single coming out,” said drummer Jacob Mcdonald.
Potts also said that the time of quarantine gave him and the band a lot of time to work with their management, Light Bulb Artist Management.
“It gave me a lot of time to process more ideas, as well as work with our team at Lightbulb Artist Management to work on branding ourselves and making progress on our image,” Potts said.
For bassist Eli Cooke, his time in quarantine took a big toll on his creative inspiration and motivation.
“My motivation personally got slashed by quarantine,” Cooke said. “I started out with excitement mixed in with all the uncertainty and anxiety, because I would have plenty of time to work on music, practice and record. Something happened to that drive pretty quickly, though.”
During this time, musicians specifically have had to transition to find new ways of engaging with their audience and promoting themselves without the ability to have live concerts.
“It has done a lot to hurt those in the music industry,” Potts said. “I know quite a few people who have had to put a hold on their career and figure out what to do next. Personally for me I couldn’t do any live shows which hurt my own promotion as well as making me lose a lot of income for this summer.”
“I think it has made musicians more creative with ways of reaching their audience,” Mcdonald said. “My favorite artist Jeff Tweedy started a nightly ‘Instagram Live’ show where he has sing-along nights with his family in his living room. He even recently announced a new album where it is songs that he has been writing a recording since quarantine and both of his sons play on the record with him.”
Associate Professor of English Dr. Jason Parks said that quarantine shifted his concentration, and he began to work on smaller projects.
“Quarantine definitely had a big effect on my creativity and focus,” Parks said. “I continued to write daily, but I decided to pursue some smaller projects. I was working on the second book in my children’s fantasy series, but I felt like I needed to change focus over the summer and do something new that I could finish before school started back up. I also missed the daily interactions with students, so I decided to write an educationally-based book on writing poetry.
“I actually ended up completing the entire book over the summer and published it through my small press a few weeks ago. The book is called ‘Ari’s Poetics,’ which is a play on the classical work from Aristotle. It’s about a 12-year-old boy who has to write a poem to get accepted into a gifted program at his school. It’s a bit of a mystery novel with a poetry lesson included in each chapter. It’s the first book I’ve ever written set in Indiana. Writing that book helped me feel connected to the part of myself that loves teaching and students was important to help me get through the summer months of isolation.”
He also said that the overall effect on creatives during this time has varied according to the person.
“I think there’s been a mixed response to COVID,” Parks said. “I’ve seen a lot of people put projects on hold, like I did with my fantasy series, but also take on new challenges. It has also led to new connections that might not have happened without a quarantine situation. Artists have done a lot more collaborating digitally as opposed to locally, so I think it has strengthened some networks of creatives in new ways.
“This kind of crisis is a reminder that we need to value our time with people and that we need to spend more time listening to others. I think my desire to read other people’s work and to encourage others to be more creative has increased. I just want more community than ever before and I feel even more inclined to reach out and ask other people how I can help them to write and create.”