John K and his "quaranteam"
Photo by Steve Arcila
Quarantine Diaries: John K Is Recording In The Home Studio & Playing With His Pit-Mix Rescue
As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, pop newcomer John K shares his Quarantine Diary. Listen to his new single "6 Months" here.
When I signed to Epic Records, and even long before, I had an idea in my head of what it would be like to put the finishing touches on my debut album. It would be dope. I’d be in the top studios in L.A., recording on my dream microphone (probably a vintage 251 that’s older than I am), face-to-face with established writers and producers in the industry. I’d have in-person meetings with the label regularly. I’d be going on tour. I’d be having celebratory dinners at my favorite restaurants with my favorite people.
None of the above has been my experience... and I actually love it.
If I’m being honest, me and my team weren’t even in the headspace to finalize an album prior to COVID-19. We were in go mode. Create mode. Chase-The-Next-Single-mode. And the truth is, that mindset was on track to bury some really amazing songs we’d written in the last couple of years.
If you know me, you probably know that I keep my circle small. There are three guys who gave up everything in order to pursue this dream with me four years ago. That’s why it’s no surprise that Rob Zarrilli, Donte Blaise and Ian Gagnon didn’t hesitate for a second when I asked them to quarantine together and be productive during all this unknown.
Not sure if it was dumb luck or just sheer boredom, but we sat down one night with a bottle of Casamigos and listened through all the songs we’d written since signing to Epic. We quickly realized we had written a good amount of bad songs. But also realized that we had an entire album’s worth of material (and then some) that just needed the finishing touches.
So here we are, almost three months later, and this is my day-to-day:
Daily alarm at 6:30 a.m.
Spend some time with Lily K (if you don’t know her, she’s my pit-mix rescue).
Coffee, work out, breakfast.
Shift to studio time with the boys (a cramped, 10x10 space in my house) to work. We finish cutting vocals, send notes for mix and mastering, or virtually link up with writers in other cities to create new songs. (We unexpectedly added three tracks to the album that were written via Zoom during quarantine!)
Virtual Performances (via Insta, Skype, Facebook, Twitch... we have done a ton of these over the last 10 weeks! Shoutout to all the amazing hosts, radio stations, and various platforms that have gracefully put up with my awkwardness and my occasional foot-in-mouth syndrome)
Cook dinner, family time, bed.
I should preface this to say that I’m not normally a routine-based person by any means, but I’ve found that having structure every day has provided me with the clarity, balance and motivation I need.
So we’re locked in the house, what do we do. We book 5-6 Zoom sessions per week the entire month of April. We choose 16-20 songs that are album-worthy contenders to narrow down and finish by the end of May. We start a new YouTube series called "Rearranged" where we release a cover video every Wednesday. We’ve been busy.
Yesterday our air conditioner broke on the side of the house where the studio is—and we live in Orlando, Florida where it’s 90 degrees and humid, so there are currently bedsheets duct taped to the walls separating the functioning and non-functioning sides of the house so that we don’t melt.
We've binged some awesome shows—shoutout to "Schitts Creek," "Ozark," "Westworld" and "Dead To Me." And some weird ones—shoutout "Tiger King." We got bored and filmed a music video for my single "6 Months" on the roof, which has probably been my most memorable day so far because the neighbors started pulling out lawn chairs and watching us film during sunset.
But most times, I still don’t know what day it is.
What I do know is that the world needs music. I definitely do. And when it seemed like everything stopped around us, we actually decided to start.
Most importantly, I end each day with a thankful heart and pray for those who are really going through it right now. We’ll get through this together because we’re in it together. Sending much love your way.
xx John K
If you wish to support our efforts to assist music professionals in need, learn more about the Recording Academy's and MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.
If you are a member of the music industry in need of assistance, visit the MusiCares website.