The past year and everything that has come with it has proven itself to be a major adjustment to people from all walks of life, including the creatives that make up the local scene. Those in the arts, as well as small business owners, have missed gigs, exhibitions, markets, readings, and performances- but they have often proven incredibly resilient and taken this difficult situation as a challenge, finding new and creative ways to keep their art going.
The extra time a lot of us were suddenly given back in March 2020 has even resulted in new creative projects and businesses popping up- giving hope for a local creative scene more alive than ever as the world starts to make its slow paced return to some kind of normality. The Jumble Magazine has asked local creatives throughout NI/Ireland about their experiences over the past year, and how the change in pace, routine, accessibility, social life, and resources has affected how they do what they do. Over the next few days The Jumble will be platforming the voices of local creatives to share their own experiences.
Belfast based Pop Artist Gary Duffy has found his success throughout these unusual times, debuting with the single ‘Did You Ever Really Love Me?’ this time last year, when the lock downs were still a reasonably new concept. Since then he has released an album, two music videos, and achieved regular radio play and interviews, he has also signed a management deal with football legend Gerry Armstrong’s X Pro Management. Gary spoke to The Jumble about the challenges he has faced over the past year and what the experience has taught him about the music business.
“As a musician I know first hand how badly the arts have been affected this past year. From March 2020 until now I’ve sang in front of a very limited live audience once, which is devastating when its your dream. Performing is a very important part of my life and when it’s taken away from me it’s very difficult. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to record my own music in the studio but that does not come without its challenges, the restrictions have meant that it has not been easy. Shooting music videos was something I have always been looking forward to, and I always imagined it being such a fun experience, however successfully translating the vision I have in my head to film has also proven very difficult when working around the restrictions. There is such a huge amount of work that goes into making music that you’ll only ever see behind the scenes. Normally when you release a single or an album you would have the opportunity to showcase it in a performance, it has been incredibly frustrating that I haven’t had those opportunities, but I have vowed not to let it get me down. The mundane nature of the lock downs and staying at home has meant that the experiences that inspire my writing the most haven’t been possible, so finding the will to write can sometimes be that extra bit more challenging. There have been times when I have felt stifled but I have managed to motivate myself to keep going and work through it. As a community we have to stick together, support each other, and remind ourselves why we are in the arts and music to begin with, throughout all of these challenges I have proven to myself that my love for music will not die.”
STRANGER DAIS is an online Zine that first popped up in the summer of 2020, the zine is currently on its fifth edition and is showcasing artists from all walks of life. The name is inspired by the current state of the world : “a group of strangers, living through a very weird time, working to give each other a platform to celebrate what makes us, us.” The hard work of Megan, Jack, and Shane has created an online space for artists who may have struggled throughout the past year. Megan spoke to The Jumble about the growth of the zine, ‘pandemic press’ and creating a platform in a world of lock downs and restrictions.
“STRANGER DAIS gave the three of us a creative outlet at a time when we really, really needed one.
Having established an independent publication during lock down, ‘pandemic press’ is all we’ve known thus far. What we thought would be a fun-yet-stressful pastime for ourselves turned out to be so much more than that – it gave us a huge dose of hope.
Talking to creatives of all kinds discussing their craft and the means by which they overcame lockdown to continue their passion has been incredibly moving. Whether the difficulties were practical – such as the lack of recording studios resulting in DIY music being fully embraced – or more profound, the means by which individuals were going to express themselves artistically proven that the arts will ALWAYS persevere.
The sense of camaraderie during lock down has been incredible, too. The support from individuals on social media has really taken us all back, as well as from fellow indie blogs, podcasts and magazines! More than ever, artist collaboration has came into the forefront. The community spirit is intensely heartening, and we really hope that continues.
Now that things are opening up again and the light is at the end of the tunnel, we really can’t wait to evolve with the creatives we feature!
Being able to bridge the gap between the reluctant bedroom bohemian lifestyle, and reaching back onto stages, festivals, poetry and prose readings, art exhibitions – however you wish to showcase your talent – is magic in itself, and we want to be there, too. We hope to bring content that embraces the arts as well as their wonderful venues!
However, we at STRANGER DAIS want to ensure that the stage online is just as legitimate of option. For many, the adjustment from lock down and isolation will be incredibly jarring, and it may take some time. Others will find the slow pace of live music being established again in venues incredibly disheartening. Our door will always be open to those who have something to say, and embrace creativity in its rawest form.”