Musician's Take: How Covid has Affected the Music Scene Firsthand

by Kenzie Comorbid


As seen in Issue 4, available now!

Eyes open, snooze button, Spotify playlist, check COVID stats, empty inbox, vocal practice, no Instagram messages, work for myself, no Facebook messages, work for somebody else, another Spotify playlist, sleep, repeat. Each morning I rise hopeful, but by the setting of the sun my aspiration has sunk and dismay pervades my mind as if it were the inky black night that creeps across the sky. Like many other creatives, the Corona Coronavirusvirus brought my career to a screeching halt. Or so I thought.


As a starry-eyed college graduate, I packed up all my belongings and moved 3,000 miles from one coast to another in pursuit of my long-awaited place in the music industry. I selected Portland, Oregon because of its innumerable venues, populated rock/metal scene, and culture of blithe sociability. I planned to start the band I always knew I would front and this was where I believed I would find my people.

Never could I have imagined the future that would await me- perhaps if my foresight was capable of such divination I would have attended more shows, networked harder, or released more music on my own in the five pre-pandemic months I had here. Most days I clutch my regrets close to my chest for fear that they are the last remaining shreds of my dream. Had I wasted my youth learning to perform when the harsh reality of my adult life is a world without live music? Would I die never having excelled beyond a collegiate stage?


I still don’t have those answers, but rather than forsake the passion that shaped my identity I decided it was time to take action. I may not have found the bandmates I was looking for but I gained a network of musicians and bands who inspire me. Watching their perseverance in the face of a global pandemic reminds me that I never made music for the audience- I did it for me. Singing, writing, and playing instruments, especially with others, is when I feel most fully alive and present. Although they may not have assumed the form I envisioned I have been blessed with many musical collaborators willing to work with me. I may not be able to play shows but social media and streaming services make it possible for me to share my art nonetheless.


Last year, I launched a cover channel on YouTube with my partner, and although there have been many bumps in the road our first cover will be released this month! I now meet with a producer bimonthly to work on tracks for my first solo EP. My guitarist and percussion friends are even pitching in and I already have a photographer in mind for the cover art.


The majority of my life is consumed by working to afford the many pieces of this musician’s puzzle, whether that’s waiting tables or participating in a yoga teacher training (which to my surprise has evolved into an integral part of my emotional, spiritual and physical journey as a performer) but my time with fellow musicians and the little reminders, like purchasing props for music videos or working on my logo are the glimmering stars in my night sky.


Since your girl loves to take huge bites that require lots of chewing, I decided that working on my own music just wasn’t enough and I wanted to pivot my day job to immerse myself further in the music industry and utilize my multimedia and linguistic skills. I invested in an LLC and transformed my music blog into a dual-platform, www.bandoverfist.com, where I publish free press articles and sell paid media production services. It’s slow going in the age of COVID but I am honored to regularly work with fellow musicians and industry professionals either interviewing them or making their music videos and art.


However, there are many nuanced challenges in both my musical and media careers that bring me to the brink of forfeit more often than not. Communicating primarily through social media to reach my peers is infuriating and I would much prefer in-person conversation. I’ve been forced to reconceptualize how I acquire and approach interviews, podcasts, and music videos in order to accommodate social distancing. I am cautious about spending time in the same space as other musicians and as such have to reduce the frequency of my studio sessions. Working from home makes crawling back into bed not only tempting but totally feasible, let alone the exacting task of working within feet from a pile of laundry, a messy kitchen, or a very vocal pet, and refusing those things my attention.


A permeating culture of excuses and procrastination has infected both myself and many of my fellow musicians. Putting off hard work has become customary because *gestures broadly* and who can really blame you for not having the energy to do x,y, and z? I certainly can’t. The world we inhabit is chock full of mind-numbing trauma and apathy is an innate survival tactic built into humanity to prevent us from crumbling under psychological pressure. Maintaining mental health in isolation for over a year is a gargantuan struggle that I nor any psychologist has a solution for. Yet, there is still work to be done and all I can do is my best as well as understanding that the same is true of all my peers, collaborators, and colleagues.


I don’t wake up in a new place every day, spreading my message to thousands of adoring fans but each day is different and at least a few moments of it are always occupied by music. Some days I make music videos and serve food and alcohol, other days I learn about teaching yoga and write lyrics. This week I planned some business strategy, Doordashed, and practiced bass guitar and hopefully next week I’ll be tracking my first single.


There’s no lamp to light my path in such an uncertain era so I have chosen to place my trust in the fire within me in the hopes that my blind steps will propel me forward- this pilgrimage may not be what I had in mind but it sure beats standing around and waiting.