Quarantine Diaries: Jillette Johnson Is Watching "Pen15," Getting To Know Her Neighbors & Learning The Guitar
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, GRAMMY.com reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, GRAMMY.com reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, Jillette Johnson shares her Quarantine Diary. Johnson's It’s A Beautiful Day and I Love You will be released Feb. 12 and can be pre-ordered now.
[7 a.m.] Lou, our cat, stepped on my head, so I woke up. Later than usual, but we stayed up watching "Pen15." Super funny show if anyone needs a laugh.
[7:45 a.m.] Coffee, walk to the end of the driveway to get the paper, breakfast on the deck. I didn’t do the crossword this morning because it’s the end of the week and that’s when they’re the hardest. I’m kind of addicted to puzzles, so it was probably good for me not to get into it today.
[8:45 a.m.] Morning walk around the neighborhood and then a quick workout in the backyard. A hawk started circling over my head while I was ironically doing an exercise called opossum. I ran away because I thought it thought I was a dead animal and that ended my workout.
[10 a.m.] Shower, meditate and vocalize. I have to keep my voice warm and healthy throughout this period of time. I’d usually be touring and using my voice a lot in the middle of an album campaign, but the pandemic has changed all of that. So in order to make sure I can show up fully for any live tapings or future recordings, I have to stay in maintenance mode. Use it or lose it.
[12 p.m.] Lunch outside on the deck with my husband, followed by weeding in the garden.
I did a lot of stress planting when the pandemic hit.
[12:45 p.m] Sit at my Wurlie and try to write something. Got about half of an ok song but don’t really feel any spark to it, so it’s probably not gonna be anything. I’m in a regenerative mode right now. It feels kind of frustrating and awkward to make stuff, but I’m just trying to be kind to myself and remember that it’s all part of the process. I actually think it’s a good sign when I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I think it means I’m challenging myself and growing.
[2 p.m.] Zoom coffee with my publicist. I just had a song come out yesterday, and we’re catching up on how it’s going and how her heart and my heart have been feeling during this time. I know everyone is struggling in their own ways right now, and I find that it helps me a lot to talk to people about it, even if it is through a screen.
[3 p.m.] Guitar practice. I’m trying to learn how to be a real guitar player, and this year seems like the perfect time to do it. My goal is to be able to perform my whole new record on guitar, like solos and all, by the time touring starts again, so that I can run around on stage more. I write all my songs on the piano, so it’s fun to explore them in this way.
[4 p.m.] Another walk around the neighborhood. I swear we’ve done this loop 37,890 times since COVID hit. We live on a river in Nashville and there’s a private little boat launch that we walk to sometimes. It feels almost like we don’t live in a city at all.
[5 p.m.] Went to our local butcher to pick up some meat for the next couple weeks.
[6 p.m.] Cooked up some bratwurst and roasted veggies while I chatted with my agent about what touring might look like next year.
[7:30 p.m.] Bonfire and outdoor movie with our across the street neighbors. We watched The Bodyguard and sang Whitney Houston at the top of our lungs. One beautiful thing that has come out of this year is that we’ve gotten to know all the people who live around us and now have this super cool network of friends that live within walking distance. It’s kind of a dream come true.
[10 p.m.] More "Pen15" until we fall asleep.
Universal language: Why humans need music
Learn why music is truly a common language that is key to human development and evolution
There's no doubt music finds a way into nearly every moment of our daily lives, whether it's marking milestones such as a first dance at a wedding, the soundtrack to our favorite movie or singing in the shower for fun. In fact, it's hard to imagine times when we are more than an ear-length away from hearing another song.
But why does music mean so much to us? A powerful form of communication that transcends all barriers — music is our common language, but why?
A composer and educator with a lifelong fascination for music, Adam Ockelford has traced our connection with music back to infants and caregivers. Infants are unable to follow words, but they are developmentally primed to trace patterns in sound, such as through the songs a caretaker sings to them. Therefore, understanding music is intuitive for humans, even at a very young age, and it encourages healthy development.
In addition, there may be another evolutionary purpose for music. Music provides a sense of sameness between humans — if you can copy the sounds someone else makes, you must be an ally. This synergy plays a role in human survival because it evokes empathy and understanding, a lesson we still learn from music in today's culture.
"Music is central to the notion of what it is to be human, and spans cultures, continents and centuries," writes Ockelford. "My music, your music, our music can bind us together as families, as tribes and as societies in a way that nothing else can."
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Haus Laboratories
WATCH: Lady Gaga And Ariana Grande Team Up For "Rain On Me"
Grande enters the "Stupid Love" singer's futuristic world as the two pop sensations dance together in an out-of-this-planet setting
"I can feel it on my skin (It's comin' down on me)/ Teardrops on my face (Water like misery)/ Let it wash away my sins (It's coming down on me)," the global pop stars sing together on the chorus. "I'd rather be dry, but at least I'm alive/ Rain on me, rain, rain."
The song is an empowering track about being comfortable with letting tears fall. Gaga revealed the many layers behind the song in an interview with Vulture, sharing that some of the inspiration for it came from her relationship with drinking. "This is about an analog of tears being the rain. And you know what it’s also a metaphor for, is the amount of drinking that I was doing to numb myself," she said. "I’d rather be dry. I’d rather not be drinking, but I haven’t died yet. I’m still alive. Rain on me."
She added that the song also went beyond that. "Okay, I’m going to keep on drinking. This song has many layers," she said.
Grande enters the "Stupid Love" singer's futuristic world in the video released Friday, May 22, with the two dancing together in an out-of-this-planet setting. The video ends with them in a strong embrace.
Gaga has shared how much the collaboration with Grande means to her and thanked Grande for "reminding me I’m strong." Before the video's release, she tweeted out a special message to the "Stuck with U" singer.
"One time I felt like I was crying so much it would never stop. Instead of fighting it, I thought bring it on, I can do hard things. @arianagrande I love you for your strength and friendship. Let’s show them what we’ve got," she tweeted.
Grande returned the love with more love, revealing what sharing a track with Gaga means to her.
"one time ..... i met a woman who knew pain the same way i did... who cried as much as i did, drank as much wine as i did, ate as much pasta as i did and who’s heart was bigger than her whole body. she immediately felt like a sister to me," she tweeted. "she then held my hand and invited me into the beautiful world of chromatica and together, we got to express how beautiful and healing it feels to mothafuckinnnn cry ! i hope this makes u all feel as uplifted as it does for us both. i love u @ladygaga , u stunning superwoman !"
Watch the full video above. Chromatica is set to be released on May 29.
Photo: Brian Stukes/Getty Images
Jay-Z And Meek Mill's REFORM Donates Surgical Masks To Vulnerable Prison Population
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says correctional facilities are particularly vulnerable places for COVID-19 to spread
The organization said it donated 50,000 masks to New York City's Rikers Island Correctional Facility, 40,000 masks to the Tennessee Department of Correction and 5,000 to Mississippi State Penitentiary. Spin reports that an additional 2,500 masks were sent to a Rikers medical facility.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says correctional facilities are particularly vulnerable places for COVID-19 to spread.
"Incarcerated/detained persons live, work, eat, study, and recreate within congregate environments, heightening the potential for COVID-19 to spread once introduced," according to the CDC. Other vulnerabilities include the fact that incarcerated people, for the most part, can't leave and, depending on the size of the facility, space for someone to medically isolate could be limited.
"We need to protect vulnerable people behind bars & GET THEM OUT!" REFORM said in a tweet. The organization sees this as a threat to public health and said on its website that it is working with experts and advocates "to develop a set of common-sense recommendations that would make us all SAFER."
They also announced on Twitter that they helped the South Carolina Department of Corrections locate 36,000 masks for their population.
Photo: Nicole Davis
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
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.