With cancelled gigs, studio sessions made impossible and live performances on hold, the global pandemic has massively affected musicians and bands around the world. But many have found ways to survive and find the silver linings – something British photographer Jack Lawson has documented in a new series, Musicians in Lockdown.
Shooting London-based artists in their own homes over the last few months, Jack wanted to highlight the difficulties the music industry now faces due to Covid-19 but also share how resilience has helped musicians stay afloat. One such person is singer-songwriter, Explicare, who summed it up beautifully: "It's important right now to be adaptable, and versatile. If you can't do one thing like gigging, spend your time reaching inside of yourself to find new elements of creativity."
That adaptability is shown in many musicians turning to livestreams for their performances. Alt-pop singer Hedara described the experience as "unique and exciting", while Ellie Hall, another London-based singer, started doing livestreams every week. "It was so lovely and made me feel connected to everyone as I'd had to cancel quite a few gigs due to the pandemic," she says.
Lockdown has also provided an opportunity for new musical processes. Explicare downloaded the music production software Ableton and wrote a new song, Roses, that came out early August, a song that wouldn't have happened had it not been for lockdown. Meanwhile, Australian-born singer and songwriter Lucy Mason got involved in a friend's project called A Part, in which the parts were all recorded separately and then edited together. "That was pretty amazing because we never would've done that process before, but now I think we could all benefit from doing things like that more. It challenges people to independently learn how to record at home," she explains.
As well as the plethora of lockdown themed songs that will undoubtedly follow, there will be many musicians who've learnt new skills, such as recording studio ready vocals at home. There are certainly plenty of positives.
But the pandemic has presented some challenges, like not being able to collaborate in person or feeling pressure to create. This is something Lucy felt during lockdown: "I was going to start writing but lockdown threw me off," she says, "I found it really hard to be creative and annoyed that there was this pressure surrounding 'all the free time' to be creative and make music. It was impossible." Lucy says it's only now that she's finding the energy to be creative again.
The mental toll of Covid-19 has also had some impact, as Ellie notes: "Having a lot more time to think has been a blessing and a curse. Everything feels super intense right now. In some ways I feel this time will spark change, in other ways, I feel like a lot of us have struggled with everything just being a lot right now."
Jack Lawson's portraits not only reveal how singers, songwriters, musicians and producers are coping with the "new normal" but also help the rest of us find comfort in shared experiences during what has been an incredibly challenging year for us all. Discover more about Jack at jacklawsonphotography.com or follow him on Instagram.