IAN SWEET – COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In - “We absolutely have to remove this racist president from office. We don’t have a choice anymore.” | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, October 19th, 2020  

IAN SWEET – COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In

"We absolutely have to remove this racist president from office. We don’t have a choice anymore.”

Jun 09, 2020 Photography by Lucy Sandler Web Exclusive
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We are checking in with musicians during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to see how they are dealing with everything. What has their home quarantine experience been like so far and how is the crisis impacting both their career and art? Here we check in with IAN SWEET (aka Jillian Medford).

We’re living in future history right now, unprecedented times that will define our era. At some point we will be living in a forever-changed post-COVID-19 timeline, but right now we’re deep in it. Many have had their livelihood interrupted by the pandemic and included are most musicians, who make a lot of their money by touring and performing, two things they can’t do right now. Most record stores are closed and vinyl factories are shut down, so album sales are depressed too. Our intention with this series is to highlight the challenges musicians are going through right now to hopefully encourage our readers and their fans to rally around and support each musician (financially if you can, but we know it’s tough out there for many people).

We’re all in this together, a whole planet united in this fight, and we hope these interviews will help illustrate that. We put together the same set of questions about the current crisis and emailed them to several musicians and will be posting their responses as they come in. 

From self-sabotaging relationships, to sex in parking lots, to creating an ideal world for herself, Medford demonstrates how much wit, wisdom, and weight she’s carrying and the tonnage of which she’s using to crush the bedroom rock game.

The “bedroom pop” bullpen has a lot of heavy hitters. But no-one hits as many home runs as Jillian Medford (aka IAN SWEET). With 2016 debut Shapeshifter, Medford was backed by a full band. But she quickly dropped the drummer and bassist after she had enough with their misogynistic comments. So Medford was right back where she began: solo, just like when she started the project while studying at the Berklee College of Music. The difference in sound is evident. On her most recent album, 2018’s sophomore effort Crush Crusher, Medford is quieter, but stronger. It’s only her story now—one full of car sex, manipulative relationships, and idealized societies—and she’s screaming it through a megaphone.

In May IAN SWEET shared a new single, “Sword.”

“‘Sword’ is my Ultimate Fighter manifesto,” Medford said in a press release for the song. “It was born from the dire need to end what felt like a relentless battle. A battle where I was constantly being disarmed. I imagined my body being both the shield and weapon to fight back against someone who wanted me to surrender.” 

Medford is candid about her anxieties and her emotions. So we at Under the Radar thought her to be the perfect fit for our quarantine series. There’s no bullshit, just the honest-to-god truth of what a shit show this entire pandemic has been. But don’t worry too much though, she’s still playing video games, reading, and even writing some new music.

Read on as Medford reflects on her COVID-19 experience so far.

Where are you spending the quarantine and who are you spending it with? If you’re spending it with other people, have you found that the quarantine has brought you closer together or caused tension? 

The first month of quarantine I was still living with my friends/roommates in our house in LA—I found that it brought us really close, we watched all of The Sopranos together, cooked together, etc. Now I am back living at my parents’, trying to save some money and be around family. It’s been nice to be with them. We watch movies and do puzzles sometimes. It can be kind of chaotic, but we are hanging in there.  

Is everyone in your family safe and healthy so far? 

Yes. My sister had COVID but she is recovered now. That was definitely scary though.  

What’s your daily routine been like? Have you spent much time outdoors? And since musicians spend so much time on the road, have you found it hard adjusting to so much time at home? 

My daily routine consists of morning walks or bike rides. Then some coffee, play music, go for some more walks, walk the dog, read a book, FaceTime with friends and scream into the void. I haven’t found it too hard to adjust. Although, I really miss playing music on the road, I’ve been trying my best to soak up the time. I have to focus on making new stuff.  

What financial impact has COVID-19 had on you and your band? Have you had to cancel or postpone any tours or festival appearances or postpone an album release because of COVID-19 and how will that affect you in the long term? 

It has had a pretty big impact on me. I canceled the tour around SXSW. Luckily, album release plans are still on schedule and I’m excited to put out new things regardless of touring.  

If you also have a day job outside of music, how has that been impacted by COVID-19? 

I do have a day job; a job I really love. I work as a music supervisor, my hours were cut to half time instead of full time which has been a bummer. But I’m glad to still be working even if it’s a smaller amount. 

Do you trust the government and our leaders (such as President Trump) to effectively deal with the pandemic? What most concerns you about the response of elected leaders at home and abroad? 

No. Absolutely everything concerns me that President Trump does. And makes me horribly depressed to have him as the president.  

How do you think the crisis will affect this November’s U.S. presidential election? Will it make it easier or harder to defeat Trump? 

I hope it will make it easier. Especially with what’s going on now in Minneapolis. We absolutely have to remove this racist president from office. We don’t have a choice anymore.  

Which sources of news have you been turning to most during COVID-19 and which social media platform have you found most useful? 

I’ve been having constant conversations with friends, continuing to listen to Bernie Sanders, following Decolonize This Place on Instagram and the DSA. I think the best information just comes from talking it out and being open with one another. 

What do you think will be the lasting effects on society of all this isolated time at home? 

I have felt this pandemic and isolation actually bring people closer(?). Lots more checking in on friends and family, appreciating each other. I hope the lasting effect of closeness and respecting boundaries continues.  

Are your parents, grandparents, and others in your life who are at risk-taking social distancing seriously? If not, what lengths have you gone to in order to convince them to stay inside? 

Yes, my parents have been taking it very seriously. My mom has a whole sanitizing station for packages in the garage! Thanks, Mom! 

What other steps should record labels, music streaming platforms, and other music industry entities be taking to help struggling musicians through this time? 

I’ve really seen such a strong outreach from labels/streaming/Bandcamp to help their artists. It’s difficult to understand why there isn’t an arts fund to help unemployed musicians, and I wish that was something more readily available for us. 

What is the best way fans can support you financially right now? Buying vinyl and CDs, downloading and streaming your music, buying merch, supporting your Patreon page or other crowd sourcing platform (if you use one), or some other means? Is there a particularly cool piece of merch you’d like to highlight? 

Buy things off of Bandcamp and keep streaming! I now have my Paypal connected to Spotify so you are able to donate money directly that way as well. Buy merch! I’ve been making tie-dye T-shirts and selling those on Instagram! I’ve really appreciated all the support. 

Which albums, songs, films, TV shows, books, podcasts, live streams, video games, board games, etc, have been helping you get through the quarantine? 

I have been reading so much! Currently reading A Year With Swollen Appendices, it’s one of Brian Eno’s diaries while he was working with Bowie and U2. I’ve been playing Nier: Automata—best video game ever!! Watching a lot of Miyazaki (always makes me feel good)! Another incredible book I read was The Passion According to G.H. by Clarice Lispector—she kills a cockroach and has an existential crisis, very relatable. 

Have you been doing any live-streamed concerts during COVID-19 or do you plan to? A lot of artists have been doing them, do you think it’s a challenge to make them original and interesting? 

I have been! They are a bit challenging and intimidating, to be honest. But it always ends up being fun!  

Is there something you’ve been putting off for a long time, but are now doing with this time at home? 

Hm…some self-reflection? lol 

Has the quarantine been a fertile creative time (are you writing or recording new music, for example) or have you found it hard to focus on creative endeavors?

Yes! Hugely! I am finishing up a record and have been writing so much in quarantine. At first, I was being sluggish and sort of sulking in the new normal of it all, but then I got in the flow and haven’t stopped! 

Beyond the obvious items (such as toilet paper), what things have you made sure to get from the grocery store when stocking up? And, also, do you have any toilet paper? 

I have toilet paper wooo!! I got some Hello Kitty toilet paper just for fun too. I stocked up on chocolate and books as soon as the lockdown was going into effect. But, now I’ve either been ordering things online or being very careful when going out to the grocery store. 

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IAN SWEET · Sword

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