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Quarantine Diaries: Daniel Tashian Is Writing Music With Burt Bacharach & Watching Hayao Miyazaki Movies

Daniel Tashian

Photo courtesy of Big Yellow Dog Music

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Quarantine Diaries: Daniel Tashian Is Writing Music With Burt Bacharach & Watching Hayao Miyazaki Movies

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

GRAMMYs/Jul 6, 2020 - 08:30 pm

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, singer, songwriter and producer Daniel Tashian shares his Quarantine Diary. Daniel's new kids' album Mr. Moonlight is out now, and his forthcoming album Blue Umbrella with Burt Bacharach drops on July 31.

[9:32 a.m.] My day starts pretty late, I guess. The problem is, I’ve been staying up late looking at news, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. Usually, one of the twins (Tinkerbell or Matilda) will pounce on my completely asleep body (their method of getting breakfast going before 10 is understandably merciless. I don’t blame them) and it works—I’m up. Coffee in the "Mr. Coffee" is on, cereal is made and toast is buttered (raisin toast with Kerry gold butter please!). I read the New York Times morning briefing and check Twitter.

Breakfast is noisy and chaotic. Then, everyone usually goes to their own things—maybe a Zoom ballet class for the twins, or a FaceTime call with a friend or Grandma for my oldest daughter Tigerlily. Technology plays a huge role in our lives right now for better or for worse. At first, my wife Lillie and I sort of fought it, but as the weeks wore on, we decided instead of trying to beat them, we would join them.

I feed the dogs and let them out, then Lillie and I enjoy coffee and conversation—sometimes outside on the back deck. But today, the humidity is so thick in Nashville, so we stay inside. Usually there’s a massive pile of dishes to do from the day before—which is my job. I was too lazy to do them, so I will put on a podcast (Brian Funk’s Music Production Podcast or Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend) and do the dishes.

[10:30 a.m.] I’ll usually head out my back door and walk the 30 feet to the studio out back. It’s in an old garage. It’s big enough to fit all my stuff out there—guitars, amps, pedals, etc. I will pick up where I left off the night before, usually working on some overdubs or making a rough mix. Today, a friend of mine, Cecilia Castleman, and I will be working on a song. We will jump on FaceTime to work on the lyrics and the melody. It’s kind of awesome that it’s possible to collaborate and work so well on the internet. What a time to be alive! But it also has its heartbreak and its frustrations. For instance, on FaceTime, only one person can play and sing at a time so you have to listen to the other person and you can’t jam together. I have heard they are working on developing something where you can jam in real time, but I don’t know what it is.

[12:30 p.m.] Lunchtime. Tuna on a cracker. I make quesadillas for the girls, who will be going to grandma’s house down the street for a play date. The in-laws have been on lockdown with us, as well as my parents and Lillie’s stepmom and dad. It’s a blessing to have family to bounce the kids around to, even more so for the girls, so all the days don’t run together, and they can get a little change of scene. We have to find the twins bunnies before they can leave (stuffed lovies they don’t like to be without).

Daniel's daughters

I’m not getting as much exercise as I should. I take the dogs on their leashes down the street and back. It’s getting hotter. I come back and make a third cup of coffee and get back to the studio. My friend Joel Korte has sent me a guitar pedal to check out. He’s a total genius, and I rely on his Chase Bliss Audio pedals to help me keep moving forward and find new sonic territory. I’m fascinated by the videos people are making on YouTube to explain gear and show what it can do. I’d like to make a video like that one day. It’s harder than it looks to do it well. You need multiple cameras and the audio has to be perfect as well. Part of me wonders if I should bite the bullet and get more into YouTube. My friend Tom Bukovac is a YouTube genius. He talks about playing guitar and gives people a window into the session scene. “Homeskoolin” is his show. He’s played on a ton of records. Something about a channel feels like a very pandemic thing to do. I’d like to give something to the musicians stuck in their houses.

[2:00 p.m.] I’m on a FaceTime call with Cecilia. She’s an innovative guitarist and singer and she has a studio in her house as well. She quickly sends me a vocal track and several guitars via Dropbox. I import them into my session and start looking around through my samples for a beat to hold it all together. At some point, in the next couple days, my production partner and dear friend Ian Fitchuk will come by, and with his mask on, play a drum track and maybe some bass on the song later. He's moving houses currently, so I make sure the little drum kit I got for Christmas as a 10 year old is miked up so we cannot waste time. Ian is hands down my favorite musician on the planet. He just exudes confidence, swagger, charm and elegance in his playing. What a gift.

Ian Fitchuk 

[3:30 p.m.] The girls are back from grandma’s house and there are Amazon groceries on the porch. I put the groceries away and cut up some strawberries, cucumbers and apples for the girls. Tigerlily informs me she will be making a custard with a raspberry coulis. She watches a lot of baking shows and is passionate and very good at baking. "Please don’t watch," she says. So, I leave the kitchen. There will be flour all over the floor when I return, but I don’t really care that much like I used to.

[4:30 p.m.] Burt Bacharach calls and asks me if I have a minute. I always have time for Burt. He’s been working on the bridge of a song we have in progress called "21st Century Man."

"I think I’ve found a solution," he says. I close my eyes and listen to the sound of him playing the piano over the phone, articulating a specific melody with his right hand. "That’s lovely, Burt," I say, and I scribble a couple ideas that could be potential lyric jumping-off points for the section. I never argue with Burt about melody. There are times when he wants to compare two slightly different phrases, and I will sing A and B for him, but ultimately, when we work together, usually, he decides the melody. "21st Century Man" is slightly different because I had a bit of a verse that I brought to him. We work on the phone for about an hour. "Much love—y’all stay safe," I tell him.

[5:30 p.m.] "We are going to watch the sun go down at Ellington Agricultural Center," Lillie informs me. This is a park and nature preserve nearby. I quickly grab my backpack that holds my watercolor paints and brushes and fill up a bottle of water. I drew pictures and painted a ton as a kid, and I’ve fallen back in love with watercolor painting during this pandemic. I try to make a painting every day to keep improving—it’s a real bugger. But it’s good to not let yourself get stuck—you have to keep growing and moving forward. I see that in Burt! We drive the 15 minutes to the creek and the girls play in the water while Lillie and I talk, and I make a painting that doesn’t look like the creek at all. Oh well. It’s a joy to be here, to be alive and I feel very lucky.

[7:30 p.m.] Dinner time. I put some water on to boil and cut up some broccoli and garlic. Vegetarian tends to be the way around here. Tigerlily came out of the womb a staunch vegetarian, so we all tag along. It’s too hard to argue with her, and I don’t want to make two separate meals. Sometimes I will grill some chicken if I’m feeling ravenous. The girls are all riding their bikes in the driveway and talking to neighbors walking their dogs by. We live on a lovely quiet street without a lot of traffic. I make a cocktail for Lillie and I—Campari with ice and ginger ale.

It’s hard to believe there’s anything wrong in the world but tugging at my sleeve is always a feeling of dread and heartache. I can push it away and work when I need to, but it’s always there in moments of reflection. I’ve started to make peace with the fact that humans are a work in progress, but it doesn’t stop all the tears that want to well up when I think of all the pain, the racial division, the misunderstanding and the hatred. I wonder where hate comes from and how it persists. I think about meanness and try to understand it, but I come up short every time.

My cousin Ethan moved to France. "Moving away from America doesn’t keep you from worrying about it," he says. That makes sense to me. Through the trees across the street, I see our neighbor, Nord, planting flowers. He works on his yard like crazy. It’s beautiful, and he’s made a bee colony and garden. That’s how he deals with it—gardening and making the neighborhood more beautiful.

[9:00 p.m.] I realized the films of Hayao Miyazaki are available to stream for the first time. With great enthusiasm, I queue up Ponyo for me and the girls. We cuddle on the couch together and watch. The colors and the story always brings tears to my eyes. Ponyo is a fish that wants to be a girl. They don’t know why tears come to my eyes, and I laugh. "It’s the colors," I say.

[11:00 p.m.] I once heard in Spain, at midnight, you would find families out in the parks, children playing. I know that’s too late for kids to go to bed, but if they go to bed at 8, they will wake us up too early. I’ve gone through phases where I get up at 5, but not right now. We read a short book, kiss the girls goodnight, and I go into my studio "C" which is in my closet. Lillie is enjoying her sherry and an English mystery show. There’s some pedals and a drum machine in studio C, and I like to mess around before I fall asleep.

Before bed, I remember how grateful I am to be here and healthy. I wish for peace on earth and pray to continue to grow and become a better version of myself.

[1:00 a.m.] Lights out. But wait... I haven’t looked at Twitter in a while....

Quarantine Diaries: Lindgren And Melanie Fontana Are Hosting An Open House, Cooking Blue Apron & Watching "Cake Wars"

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.

Quarantine Diaries: ARI Is Cuddling With Her Cat, Making Her Own Tea & Preparing For Her Debut 'IDIOT GRL' EP Release

ARI

Photo: Nicole Davis

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Quarantine Diaries: ARI Is Cuddling With Her Cat, Making Her Own Tea & Preparing For Her Debut 'IDIOT GRL' EP Release

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

GRAMMYs/Aug 12, 2020 - 02:59 am

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, rising singer/songwriter ARI shares her quarantine diary. ARI's debut IDIOT GRL EP is out Aug. 14.

[9:40 a.m.] A late start to the day. I just woke up to my cat Malakai licking my face and snuggling under my chin, desperate for cuddles. I reluctantly gave in before diving into my morning routine, which starts by going through all of the daily news on my Snapchat feed to see what’s going on in the world.

[11 a.m.] Just out of the shower and into the kitchen for the usual: tea and avocado toast. I don’t typically like tea or coffee, but I had this amazing tea from Starbucks once and fell in love with it. I ended up finding the recipe and making it myself, and to be honest, I like my version better. Once I boil the kettle, I start part two of my morning “meditation”: watching one of my favourite shows while I respond to emails. With the IDIOT GRL EP coming out next week, I can tell you there are a TON of emails. I turned on "Gilmore Girls" (my guilty pleasure) and opened up my laptop to go through my calendar.

[1:45 p.m.] Recording session time. Zoom calls have become my everyday life. It’s crazy to think that this time last year, you could actually be in a room with people. Now the most social interaction I get is virtually. On the positive side, I get to set up my little home studio from the comfort of my own bed and I find the sessions to be really productive with no outside distractions.

[3:30 p.m.] Malakai is meowing at my door. As I try to sing over him, eventually I can’t ignore his cute little voice. We take a quick break and I have a little playtime with him. I can hear my song playing in the living room—it still weirds me out hearing myself. My guess is my roommate aka my manager is sending off final approval for the “IDIOT GRL” music video, which comes out the same day as the EP. Super excited for everyone to finally see it!

[6:00 p.m.] Time for dinner. It may just be my favourite part of the day. During my session, my roommate cooked us some delicious pasta. We eat dinner together every night, which is really nice. Usually, after dinner, we wind down and watch TV, but we decided to try doing an arts and crafts project tonight. I watched this TikTok video of a DIY way to make music plaques. You take a screenshot of a song on Spotify and use a marker to trace out the name of the song, artist, play button, etc. Once that’s done, you simply add the album artwork of your choice, frame it, and voila! I thought it would be a cool idea to make a wall of each of the songs off of my EP.

[9:00 p.m.] After an eventful day, I decided to go watch a drive-in Maple Leafs game (wearing a mask, of course). My sister works for the TSN network and started hosting drive-in game nights to promote the network and social distancing events. I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest hockey fan, but I’ll never pass up an opportunity to spend time with my family.

[11:30 p.m.] I finally get home and hop straight into bed. I feel like I haven’t spent much time on Instagram today, so figured I’d open it up before getting some shuteye. I launched the pre-save link for the EP today and told my followers that I would DM anyone who pre-saved it and sent me a screenshot. I always love getting to interact with my fans and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to see how excited people are for my debut EP. It’s a great feeling to end the day with.

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Quarantine Diaries: Tedy Is Watching Anime, Walking Around Toronto & Releasing New EP ' Boys Don’t Cry'

Tedy 

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Quarantine Diaries: Tedy Is Watching Anime, Walking Around Toronto & Releasing New EP ' Boys Don’t Cry'

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

GRAMMYs/Sep 17, 2020 - 04:47 am

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, alternative soul pop singer Tedy shares his Quarantine Diary for Sept. 10. Tedy's Boys Don’t Cry EP is out now

[6 p.m.] Good Morning! This is me just after waking up, getting ready to start my day because a proper sleep schedule has left the chat...about to go on my daily walk before I head to the studio to work on some new music the day before my Boys Don’t Cry EP drops.

[7 p.m.] The scenery on my walk was unreal today. It literally looks like a painting! This is the Mimico Creek Bridgewest of Downtown Toronto. I really love the way the moon reflects on the water and just the overall vibe. Hope I can carry this with me into the studio later! I swear this picture isn't edited.

[8 p.m.] So begins another late night distanced writing session. Toronto is in Phase 3 of reopening with most businesses and services back open. I’m so glad that I can record in person again but of course making sure to take all proper safety precautions.

[10 p.m.] Listening to my new super awesome songs that will be coming out after the Boys Don't Cry EP! But you can’t hear the new stuff yet muhahhaha! I’m so excited, only 2 hours left before the EPcomes out!! I genuinely feel so good to finally share all of these songs that I have been living with for 2 years now with you all.

[12:30 a.m.] MY EP IS OUTTTTTT!!!! I had so many extreme emotions to let go of and share with words & music. Hopefully, the songs can help heal people! This is so scary, but at the same time, I feel light and free that everyone can experience these feelings with me.

[3 a.m.] Still going strong in the studio. I’m exhausted but also energized. I think I’llt ake a nap on that couch.

[6 a.m.] Another late/early(?) Uber back home. Mentally exhausted but Sza's "Prom" is blasting in my ears. Love her. Have also been listening to: Kid Laroi–"Maybe" Halsey–"Be Kind,"  Dominic Fike–"Double Negative" and Isaac Dunbar–"Make Up Drawer." Love diving into new styles of music and understanding myself more through it.

[7 a.m.] Back home. Couldn’t fall asleep, went out on my balcony, staying up to look at the view each morning is a must!

 

 [8 a.m.] Still can’t sleep! I love to playing League of Legends on my downtime and watch Anime.This series“ The God of High School” it’s about Jin Mori, a high schoolmartial artist, he is invited by a mysterious organization to compete inThe God of High School Tournament. Jin Mori is told that if he wins, any wish he makes will be granted...I love the incredible animation and the amazing soundtrack.

[10 a.m.] Me still not sleeping because sleep is for the weak and I have interviews to do. If I go to bed I won't wake up, hah!

[1 p.m.] That’s it for today. I can’t wait for you guys to hear & love the EP fully!! This has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Love you all and thank you for the support. 

Quarantine Diaries: Caylee Hammack Is Making Espresso, Gardening & Promoting Her New Album, 'If It Wasn't For You

Quarantine Diaries: Joan As Police Woman Is Bike Riding, Book Reading & Strumming D'Angelo

Joan as Police Woman

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Quarantine Diaries: Joan As Police Woman Is Bike Riding, Book Reading & Strumming D'Angelo

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

GRAMMYs/Apr 7, 2020 - 07:21 pm

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, singer/songwriter Joan Wasser of Joan as Police Woman, whose forthcoming covers album, COVER TWO, includes tracks by The Strokes, Prince, Talk Talk, and more, shares her Quarantine Diary.

Thursday, April 2

[10 a.m.-12 p.m.] Went to bed at 4 a.m. last night after getting drawn into working on a song. Put on the kettle to make hot coffee while enjoying an iced coffee I made the day before. Double coffee is my jam. Read the news, which does not do much for my mood. Catch up with a few friends, which does a lot of good for my mood. Glad it goes in this order.

[12 p.m.-2 p.m.] Make steel cut oats with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, fresh ginger, fresh turmeric, a sprinkling of cinnamon and cardamom, and of course, coconut butter to melt on top. If you’re not into coconut butter (sometimes marketed as coconut "manna"), I’d suggest just going for it and getting it (or ordering it) and putting it on your sweet potatoes, your oats, anywhere you’d put butter. I’m not vegan but I do enjoy hearing the tiny scream uttered by a strawberry as I cut into it. 

Contemplate some yoga. Contamplate meditating. Do neither. Resume work on the song I want to finish and send today. I have a home studio and I spend a lot of my time working on music here. The song is a collboration sent to me from Rodrigo D’Erasmo in Milano that will benefit the folks who work behind the scenes in the music touring system in Italy. 

[2 p.m.-4 p.m.] I traded in a guitar for a baritone guitar right before all this craziness hit but hadn’t had the time to get it out until now. I put on some D’Angelo, plugged into my amp and played along as if I were in his band. Micahel Archer, If you’re reading this, I hope you are safe and sound and thank you immensely for all the music you've given us always. 

[4 p.m.-6 p.m.] Bike repair shops have been deemed "necessary," thank goodness, because biking is the primary way I get around and I need a small repair. I hit up my neighborhood shop and they get my bike in and out in 10 minutes, enough time to feel the sun for a moment. 

I ride fast and hard down to the water's edge and take in a view of the East River from Brooklyn. There are a few people out getting their de-stress walks but it is mostly deserted on the usually packed streets.

[6 p.m.-8 p.m.] Practice Bach piano invention no. 4 in Dm very, very, very slowly. I never studied piano but I’m trying to hone some skills. Realize I’m ravenous. Eat chicken stew with wild mushrooms I made in the slow cooker yesterday. It’s always better the second day.

[8 p.m.-10 p.m.] Get on a zoom chat with a bunch of women friends on both coasts. We basically shoot the sh*t and make each other laugh. 

Afterwards I still feel like I ate a school bus so I give into yoga. I feel great afterwards. This photo proves I have a foot. 

[10 p.m.-12 a.m.] Record a podcast for Stereo Embers in anticipation of my new release on May 1, a second record of covers, inventively named COVER TWO. Continue to work on music (it’s a theme).

[12 a.m.-2 p.m.] Tell myself I should think about bed. Ignore myself and confinue to work on music. 

[2 a.m.-4 a.m.] Force myself into bed where I have many books to choose from. This is what I’m reading presently, depending on my mood. Finally I listen to Nick Hakim’s new song, "Qadir," and am taken by its beauty and grace. Good night. 

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

Quarantine Diaries: Yumi Zouma's Christie Simpson Is Practicing Self Care & Playing "Animal Crossing"

Christie Simpson of Yumi Zouma

Photos courtesy of Christie Simpson

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Quarantine Diaries: Yumi Zouma's Christie Simpson Is Practicing Self Care & Playing "Animal Crossing"

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

GRAMMYs/Mar 26, 2020 - 08:12 pm

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, Christie Simpson, lead singer of New Zealand dream-pop outfit Yumi Zouma, who recently relocated to London, shares her Quarantine Diary.

Tuesday, March 24

[9:04 a.m.] Waking up in Hackney. It's a rare sunny day in London. A sliver of sun comes through my window when I roll up the blind—this always makes for a happy start to the day.

I've been enjoying some pretty slow mornings. I think my body has taken on a lot of the anxiety as exhaustion, and combined with this opportunity to rest I'm having more sleep-ins than ever before. But this is the first time in a long time that I don't really have a job... so it's all good, right?

Today we should've been playing a sold-out show at our favorite venue in San Francisco: Rickshaw Stop.

It's bittersweet to think of, but at least I've got a few little things planned out for the day ahead to keep me distracted. 

I ordered an audio interface online last week so I can work on music—that will arrive today at some point. I moved to London less than a month ago, so I'm not exactly set up here yet—it's very weird timing.

My morning ritual has become coffee in bed, with a book (I'm reading "Outline" by Rachel Cusk), sometimes with a face mask. Today I went a step further and did a hair treatment, too. I've heard self-care is important in these times.

[11:14 a.m.] I've started one of those 30-day yoga things (it's good to have a project). I'm on day five today, but already I feel that it's doing me a lot of good whilst cooped up in the house. So from the comfort of my bedroom, I enjoy my daily dose of Yoga by Adriene—she is the master of many a chill and lovely yoga video.

[12:39 p.m.] I make myself some lunch and sit outside in the sun on the AstroTurf of my back yard. I can feel the sun soaking into my skin and my god does it feel good. I stocked up on Pavilion sourdough so every lunch is a treat. I'm trying to eat lots of fruit—I always buy strawberries every time I make a trip to Tesco.

[3:06 p.m.] My audio interface arrived just before 2 p.m., and since then I've been sitting on my bedroom floor working on a track. It's a collab—these times definitely feel ripe to start new relationships and work on collaborations. It feels so nice to have the setup required to properly work on music again. It's so nice to record harmonies with myself again. I got completely caught up in this for a while—for the first time in a long time! I found it really hard to set aside time for music when I was working a day job (as I had been until I left New Zealand) and honestly, it's really nice to know I have so much time free to work on music now.

[4:57 p.m.] After a nice long walk in the sun (as per the one-walk-per-day regulation), I've arrived at Charlie's. Charlie is my bandmate, my only other bandmate living in London—and he's not home, but he's given me his keys for an important mission. The Nintendo Switch is currently sold out pretty much everywhere, but I'm desperate to play the new edition of "Animal Crossing"—so Charlie has very kindly surrendered his Nintendo Switch to me. What a guy, right? In this moment I feel very #blessed. To be walking through a very quiet Shoreditch, streaked with golden evening sun, on such a sacred pilgrimage.

I water his plants (as he's currently staying with Val, his girlfriend) and I'm on my merry way back to Homerton, Nintendo Switch in tow.

[6:35 p.m.] Back home, clean sheets on the bed, bedroom tidied. It's officially "aperitif" hour, which for me lately constitutes a strange but delicious combo of pink gin and grapefruit juice. "Animal Crossing" is downloading. I sweep the floor and put clean pillowcases on the pillows. My flatmate downstairs is making cheese toasties for dinner. Everything feels peaceful, in its right place. It's nothing like the lead-up to a sold-out Yumi Zouma show, but I'm making peace with that now, knowing that we did the right thing to keep people safe and well. It’s not forever, we’ll be back out there, and for now, I’m getting by just fine. 

If you wish to support our efforts to assist music professionals in need, visit: https://www.grammy.com/MusiCares/CoronavirusReliefFund

If you are a member of the music industry in need of assistance, visit: musicares.org.