From meditation sessions to corona-covers: the artists making the most of self-isolation

Christine and the Queens, Charli XCX and Lizzo are just some of the artists experimenting with new kinds of expression

With live music on lockdown, recording studios closed and artists socially distancing to help slow the spread of COVID-19, loads of musicians are finding ingenious new ways to get creative without leaving the house. And we’re not just talking about releasing new tracks or putting on virtual gigs.

Mid-pandemic, artists have started hosting everything from meditation sessions and corona-covers through to interactive music videos. Here are just a few of these quarantine projects.

Take part in Sad13’s remote music video

Sadie Dupuis of Philly-based band Speedy Ortiz had planned on spending the next few months readying her latest tunes – but now that she’s on lockdown, she’s getting creative when it comes to music videos for her forthcoming Sad13 solo project.

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“There’s a second Sad13 album done!” she tells NME. “It’s creepy and poppy. I’d planned to spend the next couple months shooting the requisite three music videos to prepare for its formal announcement, but with everyone self-distancing for the foreseeable future, gathering for videos seems unlikely.” Instead she’s calling on people from around the world to get in touch if they fancy collaborating virtually.

“If you have experience or interest in stop motion, animation, comedy, video art, performance art, dance, puppets, makeup, lyric videos, really whatever, send a pitch and some info about your work to sad13sadie@gmail.com,” she says. “I’m happy to be directed from afar or just let you do your thing at home.”

Chill out with Lizzo

As a relaxing balm for these uneasy times, Lizzo – a classically trained flute player – hosted a group meditation session on Instagram “to promote healing during this global crisis.” With her essential oil diffuser working overtime and surrounded by crystals, the artist put together a half hour relaxation session: incorporating hand-washing reminders, the calming sound of crashing waves, and a zen rendition of Roscoe Dash’s ‘All the Way Turnt Up’ on flute. “Sing your favourite songs, find music in the little things,” she recites, brandishing her instrument. “I found it in this flute.”

Heed the wise words of MUNA

One of MUNA’s biggest and best songs ‘I Know A Place’ – originally written in response to the Orlando nightclub shooting of 2017 – is an escapist anthem which celebrates the power of dancing together during worrying times. Clearly, that’s not a viable option right now – instead of dancing like nobody’s watching, many of us will be living our best Robyn life and dancing on our own instead. And so MUNA’s Katie Gavin has put her social distancing time to good use, penning a new version of the track tailored to the current climate and serving as a masterful public service announcement about helping to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“I think that seeing artists be creative in the time and space of this pandemic serves a couple of purposes,” the band tells NME. “First of all, a lot of us are bored! But also, a lot of us are finding that having to slow down is bringing up uncomfortable feelings of fear, sadness, and anxiety. Sharing with each other online is an effort to provide each other both with entertainment and with comfort.”

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our psa i know a place remix

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Look out for brand new collaborations from Christine and The Queens

Her home city of Paris might be on lockdown, but that isn’t stopping Chris from inviting the masses into the studio – over the internet. The French artist has begun hosting daily sessions at the city’s Studios Ferber: the impromptu airings will go out at 6pm EST each evening – which is 10pm if you’re in the UK.

Her latest endeavour kicked off with a stripped-back performance of various cuts from her recent EP ‘La Vita Nuova’ – two of her mates mucked in and filmed ‘People, I’ve Been Sad’, ‘Mountains (We Met)’ and ‘Je Disparais Dans Tes Bras’ with the help of a very creaky bike.

Chris is promising a few bonus collaborators too. “It’s nice to have a date together every day to get rid of boredom,” she writes in French. “Doubtful concepts and mystery guests are to be expected in the coming days.” Tune in for some unexpected new collabs for the rest of this week.

Get involved in Charli XCX’s events program

With many of her regular collaborators in isolation, Charli XCX has been toying with changing the way she records in order to finish off her next record. She’s also put together a program of broadcasts featuring a handful of familiar faces. On the agenda is a fitness class with Diplo, chats with Christine and The Queens about mental health and creativity, a game of would you rather with ‘Pop 2’ collaborator Kim Petras, a Girls Night In with Rita Ora and art with Clairo. Charli sure knows how to treat us. Check out the full schedule here.

White Denim’s 30-day quarantine album

Give White Denim a month and they’ll give you a brand new album. “Making the most of this time off the road with a new recording project,” the band wrote online. “In 30 days we’ll write, record, mix and master a new White Denim LP”. Work on the new album officially began today (March 18). The countdown begins now…

“We had been in the studio for about a month already, and we were kind of gearing up for SXSW…and when that got cancelled we started brainstorming,” explains James Petralli of White Denim. The band were hard at work on another separate album – but when the musical landscape began changing in the wake of COVID-19, they took a different approach.

“The idea has grown into a way to try to look after everybody that’s been in the group over the years, including frequent collaborators: there’s about fifteen people working on it remotely,” Petralli explains. “We don’t have to tour, we don’t have SXSW, but we do have a studio. The situation is obviously evolving, and we’ve narrowed it down to try and reduce the number of people in the studio at the same time. It’s become more of a home studio project.”

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Making the most of this time off the road with a new recording project.  In 30 days we’ll write, record, mix and master a new White Denim LP.  Starting Monday, you can support the project by pre-ordering digital and physical versions from our US and UK online stores.  Throughout the process we’ll be sharing photos, videos, and rough mixes to everyone who’s pre-ordered. Clock starts on Wednesday, March 18th.  On April 17th we’ll send out downloads of the finished album (MP3, WAV, FLAC options), and drop it with our friends at @goldrushvinyl for a special one-week turnaround of lacquering, plating and pressing. We wouldn’t be able to do this without help from you all and some local businesses.  More to come on the partners who are supporting this project.  Thank you in advance for helping to keep the band and crew working while we all ride this out together. Look out for each other.  Stay creative and positive, WD

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He continues: “It’s kind of the way that we used to work when we started the band: our old studio was about an hour outside of Austin. We did a lot of home studio work before coming together. So it’s familiar; we’re used to it. We’ll just have to scale the project with the situation. But I’m really excited about the material we have, it’s surpassing my expectations.”

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