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, indie-pop singer/songwriter Liza Anne shares her Quarantine Diary. Liza's new album Bad Vacation is out now via Arts & Crafts.
From March until July, I was quarantined in my home in Nashville. As the situation continued with no end in sight, I figured I could spend time in my hometown—I have not been there for longer than a few days over Christmas since I moved in the beginning of 2012. As much as hometowns hold a lot of strangeness, it’s always been a healing mechanism for me to be by water where I cannot see the other side. It’s the only other place I’ve lived besides Nashville and as I enter into my late 20s, I start to find a sense of gratitude for all the things that were apart of my growing—here is a very usual, for the year, Thursday—safely distanced in Saint Simons Island, GA.
[6:15 a.m.] I love how long the day feels when I’m up before everything. In some ways, quarantine feels like being stuck in a loop of being "up before everything" while also being a moosh of chaos and unknown. I think there is a meditative space held in the first peak of sun—it’s easiest for me to meet the morning when I am in my hometown (where I am currently quarantined) or when I am in Paris. Both places have held so much for me—I often think of Paris as my second childhood. I think about Paris most every day—in my dreams, that is where I frequent most. I dreamt the other night that my favourite restaurant in Paris—this small family-owned place called Les Fabricants—closed and in its place was this white-walled coffee shop that looked like every other white-walled coffee shop that you might see on any millennial's Instagram. I am so anxious of what will disappear after all this unknown.
[8 a.m.] I relate most feeling of lightness to my antidepressants and Ralphie. Both came within the same three-week timeframe, both necessary with the psychological symptoms of this "unprecedented time." As I’ve rounded almost nine weeks on antidepressants, I’m kind of kicking myself that I didn’t do this earlier on. I have come to feel at home in my brain: 26 years of flail, all to arrive at some sense of calm. And, right in time to sit still, I wonder what it will feel like to tour with this new care I’m showing for my brain. I also wonder what it will feel like to tour without Ralphie. I'm becoming used to being home. You spend so much time in one state and without realizing, you have roots. I hope the habits I'm forming, the health I’m feeling and this strange new sense of calm (thank you Zoloft) sticks past the pandemic. I feel strange that any good has been held in such a time of communal pain. Our grief will knit empathy into this moment in human history. At least, I hope so.
[8:30 a.m.] Around 8:30, I step outside again and sit by my parents' pool. My mom made her famous gluten-free blueberry pancakes—she does this once a week. I ate them and enjoyed coffee in a borrowed mug, also my mother's. I've been painting a lot. I think that the more this year continues, I'm aware of where it is growing things in me. Softness, mostly. But, lots of tiny griefs to feel through—communal pain... individual pain. Pain has always been the precipice to deep growth.
I am in my hometown. I thought I was going to be on tour, clothed in an orange suit, sharing air with strangers and not anxious about it (well, just not covid-anxious about it; I am actually always anxious about social situations). Just last year, I wouldn’t have spent more than a few days over the Christmas holiday here and I've carved a full three-month span to just be here ... taking a breath ... a warmth of gratitude amidst the colossal anxiety this year holds.
[12 p.m.] Around noon, I talked with the band: Lou and Cody and Josh. Minus Robbie: He must have been doing something else. In January of this year, we made our new record [Bad Vacation] and had pretty exciting plans for touring it all year. Obviously, everything changed. There was grief in the immediate change in plans, but I have had this sense recently: getting to watch each of them carve out a space for themselves, that this time had some necessity. Lou, writing music and spending time in her home of France… Cody, having time at home with his beautiful wife Amy, starting to fish, biking, building his home studio… Josh, giving room to his own creative space like he so generously gives to others, having time to be in love without so much interrupting… Robbie, having space and time to make his own music and have real time with his girlfriend, Abby. I have started to believe we all needed the pause—each for reasons separate, but all echoing the same feeling. Who are we when we are not doing all the things we filled our days with before this? I think for me, I’m learning how to like myself without my value being some scale of "how accomplished I am." I have learned to let myself rest.
[3 p.m.] I relate my naps with Ralphie to a second dose of antidepressants. I am learning to incorporate rest into my life without shaming myself. I am the first to tell others "give you what you need" and yet too often I am starving myself those things. This year, and especially being home in this beach town, I’m finding this reuniting with the afternoon nap.
[5:45 p.m.] So much of quarantine freedom has been felt in the drives I was taking at the beginning of everything shutting down. Those somehow were untouched by the chaos of 2020. When I was in high school, the first real feelings of catharsis were felt when I could drive from school to the beach, especially on days where there were spring storms rolling in. I would drive my car to this little point called Gould’s Inlet, park and watch the puffed chests of angry clouds have heated discussions with the lighting and long rolls of thunder. Most days, I would play whatever mix CD I had made for a friend to make sure the sequence was right before passing it off. There’s a part of me stuck in that emotional catharsis when I come back here; when I’m taking the causeway from the mainland over to the island, I feel this flood of old feelings. Not for people or anything, but for this version of me that grew here.
[6 p.m.] Around 6, which is about 2 hours before the sun starts to set, I like to take a masked walk around the little downtown area called The Village. There are small steps that spit you right out into the Saint Simons Sound if the tide is high. When it's low, there’s this gooey dark sanded walk that takes you right under the pier. I love everything about the face of earthy things right where one extreme meets another: barnacle-stricken rocks and sand clashing with an abyss of ocean. I used to sit on the beach and squint my eyes and trick my kid brain into thinking I could see Europe. I love the shit we did when we were small and everything was possible.
[7 p.m.] I’m cooling my limbs for one more dip before the day is done. I spent a little time writing, strumming Josh’s guitar we brought down here—it’s an old Gibson. Anything Josh has written on has secret mojo to it. He’s my favorite songwriter and I just happen to be sharing a bed with him. I think I’ll look back on this year—or this window of however long it is—and be thankful. It is the window where I remembered how to be with myself off stage, the window where I learned how to give love and how to let someone love me not for the things I "do" but for the person that I am, the window where I learned to paint, the window where I got to spend time with my parents that felt causal—not all dressed up into some event, I felt I got to meet them as friends—the window where I felt a softness for my hometown that needed to return.
[11 p.m.] I have been dreaming so vividly the entire time quarantine has been happening. Because I miss travel so much, I’ve started—just as I’m falling asleep—to recount to myself in my head all the steps between getting off the plane in Charles de Gaulle and the walk through customs, out the glass doors and towards the train. The train into Paris. The Metro to the stop where I usually stay. The quick unload and freshen up and then the early morning walk that usually has me as the first customer at Le Chambelland. The taste of the sugar bread. The espresso. The cigarettes. The early mornings, where everything is held. I guess if anything, this year has given me early mornings. Okay, it’s late now and I don’t want to miss it tomorrow.
Goodnight, sweet dreams. :)
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