If you’re reading this, chances are your life has been turned upside down as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. All around the world, the virus has completely changed the way we live. Everything is cancelled, most of us are on some form of lockdown, and those who aren’t are living in ways we never imagined just a few months ago. The music industry has been hit hard with live events and tours on an indefinite pause. One light amongst all the darkness has been the rise of digital music festivals.
Last week, Quality Goods Records kicked off their inaugural digital festival, Quality Goods Exports, with sets from Ian Munro, Perk Pietrek, UZ, HWLS, and more. The event continues May 14-16 with Dabow, GANZ, Cozway, tapecut and many others. The fest showcases some of the best musical talent from around the world, so we thought it would provide the perfect opportunity to find out how artists around the globe have been adapting to the pandemic. We caught up with Cozway (Canada), Dabow (Argentina), GANZ (Netherlands), HWLS (US/Australia), Ian Munro (Australia), & Perk Pietrek (Singapore) to see how things are where they are, what they’re doing to stay motivated/sane, how fans can help artists during this difficult time and much more. Check out our full interview with the artists below!
How are things where you are right now? What are your days like?
Cozway: Things have been pretty good. I’ve been working on lots of music stuff. One thing I have noticed is that I’ve been getting to bed and waking up later than usual haha.
Dabow: We are in complete lockdown! I think it’s going to be over soon, but it’s going well, I mean it could be worse… My days are pretty much the same as before, I wake up, breakfast with my gf, work on music a little bit, work out a few mins, eat, I watch something online, eat, maybe watch some Twitch again, eat dinner, and go to bed haha.
GANZ: I’m sort of used to the fact of working at home. I got my setup in my apartment, although I do miss being around people and my students sometimes! I’m teaching my students via internet right now (yes, I’m also a teacher nowadays). Since the Corona situation I’m waking up with with the curtains half open/closed to get used to the light. This is because I’m normally waking up at midday but now I’m trying to get more out of my day. So, waking up between 8:00-10:00, getting some latte macchiato or Red Bull and see what things I need to finish, doing the things I like the least such as accounting first. After that I’m having lunch around 12:00-1:00 and doing some Netflix after for an hour to break the day a little! Until dinner I’m continuing all the earlier stuff and getting started with the more creative stuff such as mixing tracks and working on new ideas. After dinner I’m trying to finish heaps of stuff and watch some Netflix or something later on before I go to sleep.
HWLS: I was in LA but came back home to the most isolated city in world (Perth, Australia) to isolate and spend time with my fam but my days are mostly the same, day to day hasn’t changed a great deal.
Ian Munro: To be honest, this end of the world is definitely managing it pretty well. That being said, our days are mostly spent inside, or at least away from people.
Perk Pietrek: I think things are pretty in control out here in Singapore. Obviously we all need some adjusting to but what matters is that we’re safe and with our loved ones. My days are pretty much the same as before except that I can no longer travel to my studio.
Making a lot of music for shows that nobody can hear right now. I’ve got more time now to find new music and come to new ideas. – GANZ
What’s been keeping you sane/motivated/excited through this?
Cozway: For me it’s been the hope that everything comes roaring back to life once this is over.
Dabow: Mostly working on my album, making samples, and some other online stuff like collabs and being in touch with the community, also being with someone during this quarantine, being alone could make it more difficult. I’m having fun mostly.
GANZ: Making a lot of music for shows that nobody can hear right now. I’ve got more time now to find new music and come to new ideas.
HWLS: Getting outdoors and a bit of exercise where I can has helped, but just learning new things in music and life helps to keep days occupied, just gotta keep working.
Ian Munro: Haha it’s hard, but I’ve just been trying to keep my head down and get shit done. I guess the only real driving force is the knowledge that I’ll never have this much free time again — it feels like a waste if I don’t at least attempt to make the best out of it.
Perk Pietrek: Now is a good time for me to think through what’s next after all of this. Make some exciting plans and look forward.
I’ve definitely felt a lot looser, and more relaxed these days. I’ve always been too much of a perfectionist when it comes to work so now’s a good time to change that into a more positive experience. – Perk Pietrek
Have you been able to find any positives or unexpected upsides as a result of the current situation?
Cozway: Yes, this is basically like someone froze time and let every artist work on their art without worrying about much else. In many ways it’s a huge blessing in disguise for us.
Dabow: Yeah, I think that the music industry is going to do a backflip after this, I am not sure in what way but changes are coming. Also not having the possibility of going to the outside world makes you go to the inside and get deep on stuff you didn’t see before. Or you didn’t make time for it.
GANZ: I’m able to work on more music and finding inspiration in new ways by seeing the world being super empty and quiet and I think a lot of people are exploring heaps of new music these days.
HWLS: It’s been good to get back to the simple things in life and learning new techniques with hardware I already have, the positives are to just make the most out of what you have.
Ian Munro: I picked up skating again — something that I haven’t done in like 8 years, but used to be such a huge part of my life. I’m rusty as fuck but it’s definitely keeping me active and giving me a reason to get out of the house.
Perk Pietrek: I’ve definitely felt a lot looser, and more relaxed these days. I’ve always been too much of a perfectionist when it comes to work so now’s a good time to change that into a more positive experience.
A few weeks ago I went to a shop and they told me I couldn’t get in without a face mask, I said, “oh do you sell these here?” “Yeah, but you can’t get in,” and I was like, “how can I get one if I can’t get into the shop to get one?” – Dabow
What’s the weirdest change or experience you’ve had amidst the pandemic?
Cozway: Having to lineup to get into limited capacity stores has been pretty odd, also not being able to sit and eat in my favourite restaurants.
Dabow: It’s not weird but it’s funny, a few weeks ago I went to a shop and they told me I couldn’t get in without a face mask, I said, “oh do you sell these here?” “Yeah, but you can’t get in,” and I was like, “how can I get one if I can’t get into the shop to get one?” Made no sense and they didn’t know what to say, I left and made one at home lol.
GANZ: Not being able to do shows or going to other artists shows!
HWLS: I haven’t felt to much change within myself or any experiences, I guess people are a little more hesitant to just go out for no reason at the moment, hopefully the paranoia will be something humanity can get through quickly post COVID-19.
Ian Munro: We moved from New Zealand to Australia one week before the whole world locked down. It’s definitely been a crazy adjustment living in a new country but being confined in four walls.
Perk Pietrek: It’s weird because this was actually the life I had in the past 1-2 years after I got out of the army. I was at home all the time working on music, and barely went out. But this time due to different circumstances, everyone else is going through it too.
How much has the closure of clubs and shut down of touring impacted you? What do you miss most about performing?
Cozway: It has certainly impacted me. I miss the audience and the ease of plugging in USBs and playing a set without having to worry about green screens, lighting or recording it.
Dabow: Oh man, I had the biggest show of my life coming. Two weeks before they announced it was postponed by the pandemic, I was supposed to play Lollapalooza Argentina at the end of March, now it’s supposed to happen end of November.
GANZ: Since I was planning the new EP drop, I hoped to do shows! Which unfortunately isn’t happening at this moment but I hope it’ll be sometime soon again. I miss seeing crowds going wild on your tracks and seeing their faces when dropping some demos.
HWLS: Hasn’t affected me too much, I haven’t really played a proper show since early 2018 so my time is still spent in the studio. I do look forward to getting back out there again in the future though, I am feeling more excited about performing again.
Ian Munro: Well, I quit my job right before this all happened, so no income is dope — but that’s part of the industry I guess. If I wanted stability, I should’ve been a fucking accountant haha.
Perk Pietrek: I think all performers are pretty bummed out about this. And we all definitely miss performing. We all just need to hang tight and things will get better in time
Have you been exploring any new revenue streams lately? If so, what are they and how are they panning out?
Cozway: Hmm not really, in Canada we’re blessed to have a government that is providing pandemic relief money to most citizens. But I will be looking into artist grants soon too.
Dabow: I’ve released a secret collection of 12 unreleased songs only on Bandcamp, for the Friday they gave artists 100% of revenue, that was a great way to get support. Also been working on samples, hopefully will get something going soon. And I am trying to get SYNC’s on my music too. I think that it’s something that could really help finances in the long term. Also I’ve been trying to get closer to my label idea, I just gotta keep working on it!
GANZ: I’m now able to find more time to do mixes for other artists.
HWLS: I still have my businesses outside of music to worry about and stay on top of so that keeps my days back home busy. At the moment I just been watching the stock market a lot too.
Ian Munro: Doing a bit of ghost prod, and a bit of graphic design where I can. Pretty much just picking up odd jobs to get the rent paid. We’ve just launched a YouTube channel too — so I’d love to build that to a point where we can monetise.
Might start trapping or start an onlyfans, who knows.
Perk Pietrek: We’re working on some stuff and will announce them hopefully soon!
Support the music and artists you care about. That doesn’t have to be financial either. Spread their music, get them heard, tell everyone about them, interact with their posts on social media – we do well when there’s demand for our work, so create that demand. – Cozway
What can fans do to help support artists right now and in the future?
Cozway: Support the music and artists you care about. That doesn’t have to be financial either. Spread their music, get them heard, tell everyone about them, interact with their posts on social media – we do well when there’s demand for our work, so create that demand.
Dabow: Buy their art, sample packs, albums, singles, donate directly to PayPal. There’s a campaign on Spotify to help artists by donating directly but it’s not available for Argentina and a lot of other countries, and that’s kind of sad.
GANZ: Keep on streaming their music and don’t forget about them although there are no shows besides streaming shows.
HWLS: They can listen to their music, make playlists and share songs that are helping them, buy an artists merch if they have any for sale, donate through Spotify directly and cut them out. Basically just help anyway you can so they can keep creating and delivering you the goods.
Ian Munro: It’s hard, because as much as I believe we should support our local/favourite artists — I don’t think the responsibility should lie on the fans to keep us afloat. I guess the best thing we can all do is just do what we can. Tune in to a livestream or two. Stream music that you love. And once all this shit dies down — GO TO LIVE SHOWS.
Perk Pietrek: Buy their merch, support their bandcamp, share their music. And most importantly, fans need to engage with their favourite artists and show them support.
I’m really hoping that if there is something good to come from it all, that it gives local talent a time to shine. Since the borders are all shut, we need to be building up the talent from our own neighbourhood. – Ian Munro
What long term effects do you think the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the industry?
Cozway: I think digital festivals and livestreaming are here to stay and will become another important way for artists to build a fanbase.
Dabow: A huge cleanup, hopefully!
GANZ: I think the clubs will be closed for a while and some people might be afraid because of getting too close to others again in venues.
HWLS: I think things will be downsized for a few years while the live aspect builds up. Probably more local support and line ups in the near future because travel will be minimal for some time. I hope promoters and industry people will see more talented people get opportunities they deserve during this time and put them on rather then build someone up because of a certain look/demographic.
Ian Munro: I think it’s hard to tell the extent to it all. I’m really hoping that if there is something good to come from it all, that it gives local talent a time to shine. Since the borders are all shut, we need to be building up the talent from our own neighbourhood.
Perk Pietrek: I think for some people, it is a good lesson to learn how to diversify their income streams. As for the music industry, this might just be the tiny nudge/push for everyone else to start spending more time and money investing into newer ideas and technology rather than sticking with the old
Just keep busy, keep doing you, keep learning. Be passionate about something and apply yourself to it during this time. You can make the most out of this time or you can sit around being bored out your fucking mind. – HWLS
Any final thoughts on the situation?
Cozway: I hope everyone’s doing well out there and keeping healthy! Better days are coming 🖤
Dabow: Appreciate everyone who’s helping each other. And never take anything for granted, what the media says, what the government says, do your own research, there’s info you can understand only by yourself.
GANZ: I hope it’ll bring people more together now and find love in music they didn’t know excited
HWLS: Just keep busy, keep doing you, keep learning. Be passionate about something and apply yourself to it during this time. You can make the most out of this time or you can sit around being bored out your fucking mind.
Perk Pietrek: Hope everyone is hanging in there! If you need to talk to someone, we’re here for you.
Everyone is dealing with the pandemic differently. Stay strong, stay healthy, stay smart, support your favourite artists. We’ll all get through it together.