Jessy Lanza – COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, August 12th, 2020  

Jessy Lanza – COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In

“I’m having a harder time adjusting to the question of when or if I’ll ever be able to tour like I used to.”

Jun 25, 2020 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 Jessy Lanza.

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. 

At the end of April, Jessy Lanza announced the release of her upcoming album, All the Time, due out July 24 via Hyperdub. Lanza teased us with a couple sneak previews, first her lead single “Lick in Heaven,” followed by video-accompanied “Face,” directed by Winston Case. The latter track, a collaboration with songwriting partner Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys, was inspired by people-watching on the New York City subway, according to Lanza in a recent press release. “I was fantasizing about what everyone was thinking based on their expressions,” she said. “I found myself projecting my own feelings onto the strangers I was looking at. I went home and wrote the lyrics imagining that the commuters were having telepathic conversations with each other. The questions I imagined them asking each other oscillated from sexual to confrontational: ‘Baby is it just enough?/Tell me do you want it all?/Baby are you feeling tough?/Feeling tougher more than not?’” Between the hyperactive “Face” and the entrancing “Lick in Heaven,” the Canadian electro-virtuoso’s next eight songs off her latest LP are anticipated to accentuate raw vocal rhythms and cathartic emotion.

Read on as Lanza 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?

I’m in the San Francisco Bay Area with my partner and his family. We have definitely become closer during this time. 

Is everyone in your family safe and healthy so far?

My family is in Hamilton, Canada and I haven’t been able to see them because of the U.S./Canada border closure but I talk to them all the time and they are safe and healthy. Thank you for asking.

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?

We try to go for a long walk every night after dinner. I’m used to being at home because my studio has been in my apartment since I moved to the U.S. I think I’m having a harder time adjusting to the question of when or if I’ll ever be able to tour like I used to. 

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?

Since my new album is coming out this July, I had a lot of touring planned. I was very excited to go on tour with Yaeji this summer to promote the new album. I am sad not to be playing the shows but I’m so grateful for where I’m at right now. Everyone is struggling at this time and I’m lucky to be at home with loved ones.

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? 

I think Trump is inept and has intentionally sown more division than any American president. What’s so disturbing is that the deception and confusion seems to be a part of the plan. 

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?

Hopefully people use mail-in ballots if they are high-risk and if they are low-risk will go out to vote. 

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

Vice News Tonight has very good coverage. I find it effective to see verité documentary footage of what is happening in the world and hearing the stories directly from the subjects in the piece. The stories they’ve shown on COVID-19, the refugee crisis at the U.S./Mexico border, and the Black Lives Matter protests have been really impactful.

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

I think people will learn to appreciate how special it is to interact with the communities around us. I’ve been missing that social interaction a lot. I’ve taken my lifestyle for granted, so for me, returning to the world outside will take on a lot more significance than it had before. 

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?

Thankfully my mom and extended family are being really careful. Canada has been relatively precautious with taking social distancing measures.  

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

Buying music through Bandcamp is a great way to support artists during this time. Buying merch is always a big help too. 

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?

Yes, I do have merch I'd like to highlight! I have new hats on my web store (www.jessylanza.com) and the profits from these hats will go to Freedom Fund (www.lgbtqfund.org), which is an organization that posts bond to secure the safety and liberty of low-income individuals in U.S. jails and immigration facilities, with a focus on LGBTQ+ people. 

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

Night on Earth has been really fun to watch. The footage of how animals behave at night is incredible. 

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 doing some livestream DJ sets where I sing and improvise a bit too. I’m also adapting my live set for an upcoming livestream, which I’m really looking forward to. I am lucky that I live with Winston Case who directs my music videos and films the livestreams. He always has interesting ideas. 

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

No, unfortunately still procrastinating.

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?

I have a small studio set up in a room with a door that closes and a nice window. I’ve been making more music now than I have in a long time which is surprising to me but I’m happy about it. 

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?

Everything has gone back to a relatively normal state in California for better or worse. On our drive from New York to California in early March though we stopped in Gallup, New Mexico to stock up but they were out of everything already, so we left with the only cleaning product they had in the store called “man wipes.” Haven’t had to use them yet though.

www.jessylanza.com

www.twitter.com/jessy_lanza

www.instagram.com/jessy.lanza

www.jessylanza.bandcamp.com

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