Editor's Column

Rebooting The Pandemic

In reality, what is really brewing amid the pandemic and the trade war we’ve been hearing since 2019? While the music industry, especially the live segment, is still grappling with how restructuring and getting rid of unnecessary cost can help save their companies, many are increasingly creating. 

Empty spaces: Live venues are facing an uphill challenge filling up an audience. Image credit Cincinnati Kentucky's Springer Auditorium. Music Press Asia

Empty spaces: Live venues are facing an uphill challenge filling up an audience. Image credit Cincinnati Kentucky's Springer Auditorium. Music Press Asia

As the topic of the pandemic gathers heat in our office, more specifically like a person sitting and warming up the kaftan strewn wooden chair situated in the corner of our editorial division without meaning to leave any time soon, we are grappling with a sense of urgency to discuss as a mean to deal with how it [the pandemic] has affected our daily lives.

Having talked with a local jazz musicians about an upcoming concert online that will see a 12-hour non-stop program, we are also beginning to receive emails and phone calls of musical or live events reentering a devastated live scene. But before we start whining or protesting about the unfairness and how each nation is dealing with it, we are indeed gaining a momentum; we’re finding imaginative ways and solutions to reboot, at the same time, grappling to understand and make sense in a larger scheme of things, how to move forward from here.

Editorially speaking, we’ve always been inquisitive in our quest to find a unique story that truly transcends borders, culture and language in our region. And it wasn’t difficult when there’s hardly anything we find that that’s prosaic; stories which come in are no less compelling than ever before, and makes all the sniffing in the haystack much more satisfying these days. For those that stands out makes a valiant stamp in this period of history that none can ever mimic or replicate — the intriguing questions we’ve always asked, “How are you personally affected by the coronavirus?” in itself is as varied as the spices we have in our region in Southeast Asia.

“[We want] to tell the tales of the land; of where we come from,” said Siddharta, the founding member of the punk rock group from Assam, India. Sensing urgency in his tone, writing and expressing about their challenges in real life couldn’t be more authentic than any more crucial time than now when facing immigration issues and a growing pandemic. And with the lockdown officially over few weeks ago, will life ever resume back to ordinary? Or rather, whatever we all term ordinary today.

It does bug me a little when invitations were presented and requesting the attendance of our physical self and grand support, but having them irreverently reduced have set a pace to strategically plot a more interesting and worthy stories brewing in-house. While my WFH (working from home) days are still very much a reality, there have been days when all I worried was about food shopping, deluxe cooking and going for long walks with my dog. Creativity has indeed stalled for many, but the rare records and singles and concerts are definitely peeking evermore effervescent and authentic beyond the darker clouds.

In retrospect, would we know this is coming? While many other studies have shown what MERS and SARS could ultimately be returning in various forms, coronavirus have led to more erratic choices in the creative world. While some conferences stumble to go virtual, others held back and subsequently canceling or being totally wiped out by the pandemic.

“In my entire life as a musician, never ever had this [referring to COVID-19] happened to me before. And for the first time, paying rent and cancellation of gigs are desperate agendas on my list,” said a full-time guitarist and songwriter from Indonesia.

But good news are in the pipelines; artist are finding more meaningful collaborators in their music releases, plugging into their very own local community to perform and ease an infectious disease, calling up friends that meant something in the past but had slipped away after years of overwhelming gig bookings. Filtering, rebooting or whatever you may want to say, we are slowly and gradually moving out of the pandemic’s curve. Though the answer in sight is a temporary plateau, in reality, the life industry is already on its way to great change. The story continues….

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