In the midst of a global pandemic, Popscure contributor, Allison Weeks, took the time to share some perspective and grounding advice on how to approach our new reality in a world without live music and entertainment.
Spring has started springing, and music lovers and makers alike have reached the threshold of that long-awaited time of year: festival season. In a moment of divine harmony, chilly temps seemed to be on the outs while sunshine, crop tops, and fantasized lineups (too good to be true) floated into sight—a blissful ménage à trois between industry, spectator, and – well, Mother Nature. That is…until we were met with the unexpected.
COVID-19. Coronavirus. It has been difficult atbest to get straightforward answers about the now pandemic and, as more and more cases are confirmed within the US, industries have been scrambling to make immediate safety decisions. Like rampant wildfire, events and institutions are announcing cancellations – including academia, concerts, festivals…the entire NBA season, even. But the music world has encountered these effects at a much more rapid pace.
On March 6th, in a shot heard ’round the world, the city of Austin, Texas, pulled the trigger on cancelling SXSW. Known more fondly on the street as “South By,” the mega festival/conference is a living, breathing point of convergence among film, music, tech, and interactive media, bringing together more than 400,000 attendees and over 2,000 acts spanning the globe. It’s a smorgasbord of art, culture, indie music, film, and ideas – and the damn thing generates over $350 million in roughly a week. The cancellation, a first in the notorious event’s 34 years, represents more than just a missed opportunity to knock back one too many PBRs while jamming to an exclusive Pom Poko set. It exists as an allegory for the financial ripple effect that artists are immediately feeling in the wake of social and economic chaos.
At this point, the numbers of cancelled shows and postponed tours are too large to gather, but if there’s one undeniable takeaway, it’s that this hurts. In the era of free streaming, leaks (read: hackers), and the availability of just about anything via smartphone at our fingertips, the whole “musician as a full-time job” thing is no cakewalk—nor is it much of a money tree for most. That’s why your favorite acts are always all, “Link in bio,” “Buy some merch,” “Get to the gig!” Promo is dough, yo.
In all seriousness, with no clear end to the corona-madness in sight and more cancellations rolling in by the day, it’s evident that festival and spring touring season are not going to be the midriff-bearing, sunny dreamscapes we had anticipated. Nevertheless, in the recent words of a quarantined Tom Hanks, “There’s no crying in baseball.” That’s right. Now isn’t the time to pity our missed experiences – it’s time to step up and show support in alternative ways to our favorite bands and artists. Cop some merch. Order the limited-edition vinyl. Buy the entire record on Bandcamp. Share their pages on your social media. Venmo where venmo is due (sorry Cash App, shameless personal plug). Also, consider making direct donations to independent labels and venues – they, too, are feeling the heavy weight of this. Seriously, be there for these folks. After all, the sounds they create and share with the world are what get us through difficult times like these.
Once the dust settles and we (hopefully) return to whatever pre-pandemic version of normalcy that existed, it’ll be your continued support that allows artists and venues to reschedule and keep the groove alive.
For more information on how to support artists, view live-streaming events, and stay updated on further cancellations, visit the Virtual Music Events Directory, compiled by Cherie Hu.The featured photo at the top was shot by Tye Truitt via SXSW.
As an added aside, recently featured artists: Shormey, Alfred., LOVELORN, LEYA, and Suburban Living‘s tours have been cut short. In good nature of the article above, directly purchasing any content/items from the artists/bands would be a great way of showing some support.
Unfamiliar with any of these artists? Take some time to get familiar below:
The NYC experimental music duo talk community and connections in a thoughtful Q&A with our managing editor, Jasmine Rodriguez right before their debut album release and Norfolk gig this Friday.
Described accurately as “transcendental punk”, Marilu Donovan and Adam Markiewicz use detuned harp and violin + vocals respectively to create ethereal sounds that evoke a tangible chasm of emotion. Their debut full-length album Flood Dream drops this Friday 3/6 via experimental label NNA Tapes and they’ve got their hometown album release show tonight at a DIY venue in NYC before embarking on a two-month tour taking them down the east coast en route to SXSW and through the Midwest and Canada. I’ll be checking back in with them this Friday when they play Taphouse with Community Witch, Dysphonia, and VV, but first I wanted to get to know them a bit more…
I’ve read that you all aim to show that there’s more than meets the eye with the musical instruments you play – in this case, the harp and the violin. The sounds emitted aren’t what many would consider beautiful by standard, but in a way the dissonance and harshness do reveal a sort of beauty that people tend to look away from. Would you say that’s a perspective you all try to show?
Marilu: Of course! Unconventional beauty is far more interesting to me. I grew up playing the harp, and I’m tired of it being thought of as an instrument that can only sound “pretty” – that idea is boring.
Adam: “A sort of beauty people tend to look away from” is pretty nail on the head. We deal in a lot of non-traditional…but intense…beauty: a strange harmony that is held so long it becomes all-encompassing, the vibrations of detuned harp strings filling your entire body, the general vibe of sound over notes while still working within a pretty fixed musical frame.
Your music conjures up a vast spectrum of emotion. Do you have to be in a certain mindset when creating the music you make? Is there a specific feeling you all set out to express, or does it all come together organically?
Marilu: I don’t think we specifically set out to create sad music, it just kind of happens that way – at least so far… For me, whenever I am creating, it’s so difficult to start the process in a “certain mindset.” Some days creativity pours out, and some days it doesn’t.
Adam: Playing and writing with Marilu is organic and natural. Despite all the work…we’re not thinking about it that hard, y’know?
Did you all find it hard at first, trying to get others to see your vision? Or does living in NYC make it easier?
Marilu: Living in NYC makes doing most things “outside the box” easier – definitely. I think we’re still trying really hard to get others to see our vision, but thankfully each year it gets easier.
Adam: Honestly, our community here has always been very supportive. I think the decision to dive so seriously into this over the last couple years was partially driven by the cohesiveness we immediately felt with an audience of our friends when we first started. Our peers/friends/chosen family have been part of the connection to every moment of growth for LEYA. I like to think of everyone being together in this and all of it. I’m honestly surprised when people allude to the music being hard to access – it’s actually meant to be very easy to feel and understand.
Your music seems to be the perfect compliment to a performance art piece or visual installation. I’d say your music videos for “Wave” “Sister” and “INTP” each possess their own cinematic quality to them. Have you all considered pairing your music to any other visual (or other sensory) aspects in the future?
Adam: We’re open to many things and will definitely move into new territory. “Sister” was done so beautifully by our dear friend/muse/director Kathleen Dycaico that we were sort of propelled into this dreamy visual world – working with Brooke Candy and PornHub on “I Love You” and scoring amazing animations by Jennifer May Reiland. It’s all been pretty amazing when we’ve worked with moving images. Obviously we want to score your next film – hit us up!
Marilu: I am super into the idea of working on more film scoring, and with live dancers. For sure – get at us!
Your new album, Flood Dream, will be released Friday (3/6). How was that process following the years after your debut with The Fool? Are there any new elements that you brought to the table this time around? How has the creative process changed or stayed the same?
Marilu: I would say the creative process is still very much the same between Adam and I. We really are just exploring and figuring out what we like and what works. We are constantly growing, and constantly massaging the music – really figuring out what sounds best to our ears.
Adam: While we have always stayed true to our specific sort of sound, this is definitely a new kind of record in a couple ways. We set out to write songs in a way that we hadn’t before – simpler and more transparent in terms of their role as just being songs, not these dense slabs, or pieces. We wrote most of them while on the road for three months January – March of 2019 and then three are adapted from earlier versions in the “I Love You” score. We continue to hone our process, but it’s basically the same as always – Marilu and I sitting in a room, working it out piece by piece, starting with the harp. There are some guests on this record – GABI sings on ‘Weight’ and our friends John and Tristan lend some flute, synth, and upright help lightly on two songs – but mostly it is a departure from the collaborative zones we’ve traversed lately. It has one thread and tries to a tell a story, whatever that means to you.
How did you all come across NNA Tapes? What drew you to the label?
Adam: Toby Aaronson, the original Co-Founder with Matt Mayer, is a friend of mine via the New England DIY scene. When we first started recording I reached out to him. I’ve always admired their work and catalog – so vital in its crystallizing of the experimental zone in the late 2000-oughts.
Marilu: Ya! NNA are old homies – they rule.
What does a live set-up typically look like and how do these songs translate live? Is crowd reception/connection a factor that you keep in mind when performing?
Marilu: Most of these songs sound pretty much the same live as they do on our recordings. I read something one time when we first started out that described us as “harp, violin, and electronics” and I was both like wondering what they thought were the electronic elements, and also like I don’t know how to work electronics! Crowd connection is so important to both of us. Both during and after the set – come say hi to us! Be our friends.
Adam: Our shows are intense and intimate and the audience is half of that, at least. My favorite part of LEYA is playing it live!
I know this phrase I am about to use is so vague and relative, but do you all feel like you fit in a “music scene?” This may be helpful to other musicians reading this who make music in non-traditional ways.
Adam: We like to live in many scenes because many “scenes” are happening in their own way, but ultimately we came up through DIY culture and tend to play with bands that exist in that world. We play with punk bands, mostly, but you might also catch us at fancier spot every now and again.
Marilu: Ya – I agree with Adam. The DIY scene has been very supportive of us. But, people interpret LEYA in so many different ways; a friend of ours likes to describe LEYA as a hardcore band.
What would you say to those that think your sound is too “high-brow” or “high-art” for them?
Adam: We don’t like pretentious shit really, so we’d probably get along. They should just come to the show, though – it’s not a complex vibe.
Marilu: lol – truly we’re so scrappy!
Lastly, what does music, in it’s purest form, mean to you?
Adam: Absolutely everything.
Thank you to LEYA and NNA Tapes for the opportunity to conduct this interview. The featured photo at the top of the article was shot by Serge Serum and comes courtesy of NNA Tapes.See you at the Norfolk Taphouse on Friday, March 6th.
Philly electronic duo answer questions from Popscure correspondent Elliott Malvas of You’re Jovian as they embark on spring jaunt to SXSW.
I first met Anna and Patrick back in 2015 at The Ottobar in Baltimore, Maryland. Their band at the time, Creepoid, was opening for Swirlies; we were doing 3 shows together. During that time, I was able to get to know them a bit and establish a connection. Familiar faces in unfamiliar places. In 2016 I was able to get Creepoid to come to VB and play with You’re Jovian. Shortly thereafter, Creepoid would announce they were breaking up, and from those ashes, Anna and Pat formed Lovelorn.
Over the past few years, you might’ve caught Lovelorn in Norfolk at Toast or Charlie’s. Now they’re playing in Richmond at Wonderland with True Body on Sunday, March 1st and then in Norfolk at Taphouse on Monday, March 2nd with buds, Arms Bizarre. They also just released a new single that demonstrates the band departing from the previous sound of their former band. If you’re a fan of darkwave, post-punk indie rock goodness, then you don’t wanna sleep on this. I recently caught up with Anna and Patrick and asked them some questions, enjoy!
How soon was it before you and Pat decided to start another band coming out of the fallout of Creepoid?
Patrick, Pete, and I started casually playing together about six months after Creepoid ended. Patrick and I had just moved into a new house, with a practice space, and I think it was this shift away from where Creepoid had played that helped initiate things. It wasn’t until about two months after that we really started thinking of it as a ‘band’ and writing songs.
You already had great rapport with fans, promoters, and venues through Creepoid. Was it pretty easy to build Lovelorn and get started because of this?
It really wasn’t super easy. Lovelorn is a completely different project, and we had to start over in lots of ways. Although we had some carry-over fans from Creepoid, we’ve had to put the work in to build up that base with Lovelorn. Once we have an album out, hopefully, it will get easier.
When did the music for Lovelorn start to take shape? Because it seemed like a seamless transition. To me, you all already had songs and a tour booked with what felt like a week after Creepoid disbanded. Of course I’m exaggerating, but still…it was quick.
It *seemed* quick, but that was only because Creepoid had ended long before we announced the final show. It was during that in-between time that Lovelorn formed, but we decided not to announce the new project until after our final Creepoid show.
Creepoid, to me, was a darker sludgier shoegaze band, whereas Lovelorn kinda had that to start but now has started exploring more of this European type house trance music mixed with some post-punk goth vibes. Is this a fair assessment or way to describe Lovelorn to someone who’s never heard of you all?
I would say…yes, fair. But I often describe Lovelorn as what James Murphy would sound like if he grew up in Philly and had to sweat his rent every month : ) We definitely took some time to shake off the familiar, but I think [ ] we’ve fully embraced being whatever Lovelorn is, as opposed to following old habits.
Anna, what was the initial transition like going from a bass player/singer with a live/organic band behind you to now being front and center with backing tracks providing the music? One might say that backing tracks, as reliable as they are, can lack drive and liveliness versus a band which can provide a lot of energy and be somewhat different night to night. Which do you prefer? It seems like you’ve fully embraced being the front person of Lovelorn.
I always thought of myself more of a performer than a ‘bass player’ or ‘singer.’ So, it’s easy to transition to a position that relies more heavily on being performative all the time. It was harder to transition to playing to a track for sure! Creepoid was always more…let’s say…organic in how songs were played night to night. But, I wouldn’t say that our set up lacks any drive or liveliness at all. Patrick and I each do things that allow us to be flexible and creative within the structure, and that’s important to us.
You all always use the hashtag #bringweed. How often do people actually bring weed, and do you all actually smoke strangers’ weed?
Necessity is the mother of invention, and when you tour the way Creepoid did, we needed weed in a different city every night lol. We started using it in 2015, and I would venture to say there have been very few shows we played since then that people have *not* brought weed…along with other treats. No one is a stranger once they share drugs with you.
Between Creepoid and Lovelorn, have there been any close encounters with the police on the road, especially when traveling with so much weed?
Don’t want to say too much here…but yeah, please kids…don’t drive with a lot of drugs.
You all are coming through en route to SXSW. Is SXSW still worth it for independent bands? It seems that indie bands put a lot of emphasis into SXSW and front a lot of money just to get out there and play 2 showcases. Is the greater idea of SXSW dead? What should younger or less seasoned indie bands expect from playing at SXSW?
Yes and No. I mean, if you go into SXSW thinking this is going to be your big break and catapult you into instant fame and success…then you are going to be disappointed for sure. But, if you go into it thinking you’re gonna see your friends/peers, eat some good food and play some good shows, you’re going to enjoy it much more. Creepoid definitely benefited greatly from playing SXSW, but it often took months to years for those benefits to be realized. So, just have fun, be patient, and tour as much as you possib[ly] can.
Any showcase(s) you’re looking most forward to?
The showcase of breakfast I’m going to eat at Bouldin Creek every morning ❤
Pat, I heard a rumor that someone once punched you in the face in Texas because they thought you were Nicky from Nothing. Did this actually happen?
Can confirm this did happen, but in Brooklyn.
Pat, you set up shows in Philly. As someone who plays in a touring indie band and books bands, what is your biggest pet peeve that other bands do when trying to book through you? Also, has lessons learned throughout show booking helped you personally book Lovelorn shows?
I’ve been booking shows for 15 plus years, so I have lots of pet peeves. [The] biggest has to be bands that aren’t willing to do their own promotion and expect the venue to do everything. It’s a team effort. I also get a real kick out of bands that complain to me about parking. My job absolutely helps me to book my own projects. I know the email etiquette (keep it short, be specific, and include a link (not 10)). I’m down to do whatever I can to make the promoter’s job easier – internal promotion, researching local bands, etc.
In 2015, Creepoid played 3 shows with Swirlies starting at Ottobar in Baltimore. How did that come to fruition? What do you remember from those short run of shows together?
Our booking agent at the time set that one up. 2 memories come to mind – the first is Sean Miller teaching them how to set up their pedalboards, which they bought on that tour. Second, the last night of that tour was in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and we totally slayed. Really great set. Finished out the night partying with homies we have there. Very late/early morning, we got the notification of our long-awaited Pitchfork review of Cemetery High Rise Slum, and they TRASHED it. I remember thinking, “I’m glad we’re all real fucked up, or this would be a big bummer.”
Lovelorn has an interesting set up for only being a two-piece. Do sound people give you any flack for the way you go about your set up? I personally like that you keep the ability to mix the backing tracks up to you, the band, and not the venue sound person.
Sound people are actually usually pretty stoked on our set up. Every now and then, we’ve had a real square that’s just totally confused that we don’t have a guitar player, but the professionals are chill. I think they appreciate that we understand our equipment and are trying to have as much control over it [as] we can.
Favorite Norfolk, Virginia memory (even though you’ve played Virginia Beach before)?
Philly is quite honestly one of the best cities. If you had to live anywhere else in the country and base Lovelorn out of it, where would that be?
Philly is the best city for sure. Nowhere else really feels like home. But we also love LA and Austin.  If we move anytime in the near future, it would be to either of these cities.
Last question. I myself am a NASCAR fan. I often feel at odds with myself for being a musician and a sports fan. I feel that I get cast into this imaginary shoegaze culture of adoring all things beauty and being constantly artistic. It’s almost like this constant push and pull of being a jock and a musician. Some people don’t take me as serious for enjoying my sport of choice…I know that both of you are Eagles fans. I feel that in the indie scene, it’s almost a joke to some people to be an avid sports fan but also be a musician–especially to all the art kids out there. How do you feel about this? You notice it too?
I think that it’s less of an issue here in Philly because our sports teams are so pervasive in all parts of our culture–including music. Have you seen Silver Linings Playbook lol? In the Philly music scene, tons of musicians rep their team, whether that be Sixers, Eagles, whatever. That being said, I do know [a] ton of people that absolutely are not into sports and people into sports that aren’t into music–but not really too much animosity between the two worlds. What’s more of an *issue* is when you tour with a band from another city that’s equally passionate about their team…especially during football season : )
Go listen to the brand new Lovelorn single, “Around You,” and check them out on their spring tour, see dates below.
February 29th – Philadelphia, PA @ Ortliebs’s *with Night Sins
March 1st – Richmond, VA @ Wonderland RVA *with Night Sins
March 2nd – Norfolk, VA @ The Taphouse Grill
March 3rd – Raleigh, NC @ Slim’s Downtown
March 4th – Charlotte, NC @ The Milestone Club
March 5th – Atlanta, GA @ The EARL
March 6th – Savannah, GA @ The Sentient Bean
March 7th – Gainesville, FL @ The Atlantic +
March 8th – Miami, FL @ Gramps +
March 9th – Lake Worth, FL @ Propaganda Lake Worth +
March 11th – Saint Petersburg, FL @ The Bends +
March 12th – Tallahassee, FL @ The Bark +
March 13th – Pensacola, FL @ Night Moves Pensacola +
Two Virginia artists hit the road in March en route to Austin, TX music festival mecca.
From the nation’s capital to the edge of Texas and back again, Shormey and Alfred. will each bring their unique sounds to audiences far and wide. The tour has them returning to many places they have already been before, but this will be each of their first times performing in Florida (March 6-9th)! This will be Shormey’s 2nd appearance at SXSW and her first as an official artist and Alfred.’s 3rd time at SXSW and their 2nd time as an official artist. See all the dates below after checking out their tunes. And if you see a city you know friends in, best give them a heads up that they have a chance to catch some of Virginia’s top-notch talent in their hometown this coming spring.
Shormey (Pop, R & B)
Alfred. (Hip-Hop, Neo Soul)
March 3rd – Washington, DC @ Songbyrd *with Mind Shrine
March 4th – Richmond, VA @ The Camel *with Mind Shrine
SXSW is a whirlwind that takes a couple different perspectives to truly grasp. From bands whose memories may be hazy from countless, back-to-back gigs, to one photographer along for the ride capturing proof, we have those viewpoints.
Hector traveled to Austin with his band Slump, and friends True Body. “The city [was] on fire with things to do,” he sends me, cut and copied from his iPhone notes, “it was always a party.”
“The last show of this tour left my mind floating in a bubbling black lagoon,” he said of playing tons of shows in a row and feeling the toll. “My head burst and I nearly passed out. It felt like I had died, collapsing into a black hole, sucked in by my bodies physicality; no control. Confronted and simultaneously halted in the life thresher. It’s not healthy.”
“When I came to I was surrounded by friends and strangers alike. Here I am in Austin, Texas doing what I love, emptying my savings for the sake of traveling. American Psychonauts, plunging into an endless sea of crisp fur, infinite and vast hills lush with wild flowers. We’re all cackling like hyenas, gunning it on hi-way 35 for a good time.”
His crew crashed with Hector’s childhood friend, and speaks of his eclectic, much older roommate. “Tony and Isaac stayed up until the serene blue light caressed their retinas,” talking to “John,” Hector recalls. “John bought 4 hits of acid from me – i was charging $40 for the strip – he gave me $60 because ‘he liked the mania in my eyes.’ He took them right then and there.”
“The Meow Wolf installment at Empire Control room was my fav part,” said another John who attended. “The tacos were my favorite part,” said Neal, “but I did see some good bands in between eating delicious Mexican food in Texas’ liberal oasis.” He was there for a second time with the same band under a new name, Super Doppler. “I still didn’t see half of the bands that I wanted to see.”
They did catch Crumb, at the wrong location after waiting several hours. “Crumb had originally announced the show at the wrong co-op a couple blocks away, the one where I heard two guys were kayaking in the pool the night before,” Neal said, killing time by “[picking] up some beers from the corner store nearby and [hanging] out for the evening next to a broken trampoline in the backyard.”
Apparently, it was worth the wait. “By the time Crumb came on stage – if you could call it that – the sun had started to set, casting shadows on the graffiti’d walls of the house,” Neal said, “It was a welcome contrast from the drunken hordes and corporate showcases that seem to dominate SXSW sometimes.”
Check out more photos via Craig Zirpolo below:
were you there? tell us your story in the comments…