Lock-downs and Collaborations
We're sitting in the beginning of April 2020. We are all under lock-down due to a global pandemic that hit us a few weeks ago. After sorting out my students into an online medium and resuming lessons, I have found myself to be stuck at home everyday for at least another 3 months. And needless to say, I've lost all my gigs for the next 6. So... what to do...
I've realised people started jumping on the bandwagon of online gigs, collaborations and YouTube videos. It's quite interesting to see how people tackle the task of recording themselves for the first time and try to become an online persona for a Facebook/YouTube audience. It's something I don't have much experience in but I thought I'd give it a try. It's not easy getting the angle right, adjusting the lighting (if you even have lights) and not making mistakes in a single 5 minute take. And the editing.... that's a whole plethora of complications I don't need right now in my life. Some of my friends have it down though. So whilst I learn how to use video editing software and continue to record myself (poorly) I thought I'd do some collaborations.
My good friend and gaming buddy Jonno Sweetman from South Africa starting something called 21 beats, 21 days. This was inspired due to the South African government shutting down the country for 3 weeks. He posts a video of himself grooving on his kit at home. He sets up the video with a avocado or pineapple sitting on his snare and it's turned out to be a fun motif that he carries through this videos. He then started getting involved with local artists and starting receiving grooves and progressions to play over. With his versatility in jazz and his ability to improvise so musically, he makes every video unique and his music personality shines through.
One day whilst playing console games online together, in the comfort of our own, socially distant, living rooms, he asks me if I had something musical to send him for a video. I had written a tune recently I thought that could work: A simple AABA jazz head. Why not? I'll send that.
The tune is called Lester ain't young no more. It's very tongue in cheek for I reference the tag of Lester Young's tribute tune Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, written by Charles Mingus. One of my favourite composers from that era of jazz. I played in a keyboard and bass part onto my laptop, bounced it and sent it through to Jonno. He then posted his video a few days after.
This for me was an exercise in generating content. Something many musicians struggle to do in general. I always go through phases of inspiration and motivation where I write 9 tunes, record them and before I put the final touches, I lose steam and never publish anything.
This, hopefully, for me is a step in the right direction. Let's use this time we have at home... not to post the highest scores on every video game we own or to raid the fridge every 5 minutes.... but let's rather use this time to create content. Not to become internet famous, or to seek approval and compliments from people you don't know in the comments section of your videos, but rather to practice producing music and art. Practising the art of execution.
TOP MUSIC TIP: Don't buy Ice Cream during a pandemic lock-down. Your future waistline will thank you. Also go practise.