BY MIE SORENSEN
COVID-19 has devastated Australia’s music scene and wreaked havoc on our stress levels but there’s a simple solution that could help both – listening to some home-grown tunes.
MOJO News has put the perfect playlist together to do just that.
Local and independent artists are facing months without gigs while the entire music industry is reporting more than $300 million in lost wages.
At the same time, YouGov figures show 57 per cent of Australians have reported being stressed as a result of the pandemic and one in two people say they are feeling emotionally isolated.
So, if you’re looking for some mood-boosting music therapy why not help Australian musicians at the same time?
To get you started, MOJO News has designed a playlist to combat the lockdown blues with handpicked songs from budding Australian performers.
Along the way, we spoke with some of the featured artists to discuss the impact of lockdown and see how they’ve been making mental health a priority during isolation.
Track #1 – “Habit” by Merpire
‘I was a creature of habit, when it came to coming undone.’
We’re all creatures of habit these days but being stuck at home hasn’t stopped Melbourne based Merpire from finishing the mix for her upcoming album and starting an all-Australian online festival.
Indie rock singer-songwriter Rhiannon Atkinson-Howatt was one of the brains behind online festival Iso-laid. Clocking more than 40,000 Instagram followers in just a couple of weeks, the livestream festival has helped raise much-needed funds for non-profit Support Act, an industry-based crisis relief fund.
While it might seem like everyone’s being hyper-productive in lockdown, Merpire reminds us that we can all become a little undone sometimes – and that’s ok, because the pieces will be there to put back together.
“I learnt very quickly that I can't actually sustain that level of output. I crashed pretty hard and felt guilty for feeling tired,” she said.
The singer has since made an effort to take more time out by reading, going for walks in the sunshine and reducing her screen time.
“Remember to be kind to yourself. We're all allowed to feel however we want to in our own situation,” she said.
“Everybody is different and once you accept that your energy and mood might be different every day, you'll feel a whole lot more normal.”
Track #3 – “Floating” by Tay Oskee
‘And it gets better, feels like there’s hope in it all.’
North Queensland local Tay Oskee brings a soothing acoustic number to the playlist.
The young roots artist recently capped off a European circuit supporting Xavier Rudd and was looking forward to headlining his biggest Australian tour and making UK festival appearances, which have since been postponed.
“That's all cancelled now, but instead of being down about it I plan to use this time to get stuck into writing and recording new music,” Mr Oskee said.
Echoing his song’s ethos of floating along, Mr Oskee said he has been using his free time to surf, practice yoga and brush up on his gardening skills.
Track #8 - “Someday Soon” by Pacific Avenue
‘It’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen you.’
If you're pining for the days when you could pop over to a friend’s house, then this cathartic tune is for you.
Melodic riffs from coastal rock band Pacific Avenue will keep you hopeful that relief is just over the horizon.
The four-piece outfit was only formed in 2017, but its unique sound has since scored the members gigs supporting the likes of The Wombats, Ocean Alley and Tash Sultana.
Riding on this career momentum and with their first EP released in late 2019, Drummer Dom Littrich said the sudden interruption caused by the pandemic has taken a toll on the band.
“Putting the money side of things aside, playing gigs is one of our main ways to grow our audience and gain exposure,” Mr Littrich said.
The drummer noted that the group was focussing on the silver lining and trying to maintain their connection to fans through social media.
“I feel that people will most likely use music as a bit of a release whilst this pandemic is occurring, which will hopefully create stronger connections to bands and in turn more support for the music industry,” he said.
Track #9 – “Head Cold” by Spacey Jane
‘I'll find time and I'll stop drinking; I'm still sleeping at least that's something.’
Featuring a dreamy garage pop sound infused with a hint of angst, you’ll likely catch yourself tapping your feet once Spacey Jane’s hazy vocals reach your ears.
The up-and-coming Perth band has been gaining momentum the past few years, playing their first Splendour in the Grass in 2019 and scoring a place in January’s Hottest 100 countdown.
“Head Cold” is a single from their upcoming album Sunlight, due for release on June 12. It’s a track that will have you wanting to bask under blue skies and thank the heavens that you don’t have a cold, or any kind of virus, for that matter.
The band’s drummer and manager Kieran Lama said front-man Caleb has been doing plenty of writing in isolation and hinted that the group was already prepping for album number two.
“It's a bit grim, but we're hanging on and will be just fine," he said.
Mr Lama has been trying to do at least one positive thing a day – such as cooking a meal - and said staying connected with people online was important for keeping your spirits up.
“It sucks being isolated physically but that doesn't mean we have to isolate emotionally too,” he said.
Track #12 – “Stay In” By Horror My Friend
‘Whatever stay in, do nothing.’
You’ll want to jump out of your chair and start dancing to this clashing track, because its lyrics couldn’t ring truer.
If you want confirmation that it’s ok to lounge in your PJ’s and have a much-needed sleep in, then look no further. It’s a song that came off Horror My Friend’s debut album in 2016, slightly more preppy than their typical post-punk fuzz and perfect for singing at the top of your lungs on a Saturday night in.
The group’s guitarist Tom Gordon said the band is spending isolation mixing a new release after cancelling an upcoming show. Gordon said he’s trying to take the time to do as many creative things as possible but that doing nothing can be just as important.
“Give yourself a break and allow yourself to do nothing, this is the only chance you'll get to just chill,” he said.
If you would like to check out the rest of the songs and support the Australian musicians in our playlist listen here.
Support Act has a wellbeing support line for those involved in the music industry: 1800 959 500
Support services during COVID-19 can also be found online at Beyond Blue.