Quarantine Diaries: Peter Bjorn And John's John Eriksson Is Reading Poetry & Battling Possible COVID-Related Illness

Peter Bjorn And John

Photo by Johan Bergmark


Quarantine Diaries: Peter Bjorn And John's John Eriksson Is Reading Poetry & Battling Possible COVID-Related Illness

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/May 5, 2020 - 10:59 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, John Eriksson of Swedish indie favorites Peter Bjorn And John, shares his Quarantine Diary. Peter Bjorn And John's ninth studio album, Endless Dream, is out now.

[4:30 a.m.] Waking up, coughing like a very old man. The sound reminds me of my grandfather. He was coughing a lot, he was a car repairman and he was half deaf. Someone fired a gun right next to his right ear.

[Editor's note: According to the band's management, Eriksson suspects he may have contracted COVID-19. But, because they're only testing people in Sweden who need hospital care, he can't be sure.]

[4:34 a.m.] Trying to fall asleep again by watching an old Swedish criminal drama from the end of the '80s. Everybody is wearing bright white jackets and dresses. Weightless, fluffy humans with untroubled minds, feather-light bodies, relaxed faces. Everything looks so easy and the pace is so unbelievably slow. The investigator is constantly holding a burning cigarette between his index and middle finger.

[5:30 a.m.]  Waking up, coughing and probably waking up my girlfriend for the 45th time during the last three weeks. But, she loves me, yeah, yeah, yeah?

[5:35 a.m.] Trying to read a book in bed. Can almost only read "slow" writers at the moment. Tove Jansson or Peter Handke. Bruno K. Öijer or Tomas Tranströmer. Books where the sentences are not chasing each other, texts where it doesn't matter if you are on page one or 99. Pages that have a mind of their own.

[8:01 a.m.] My girlfriend comes from the kitchen and hands me a black bowl with oatmeal porridge. Eating that in bed, waving goodbye to my son on his way to school. 

[9:17 a.m.] Looking out the window. Coughing.

[10:00 a.m.] Time for a chance of scenery. Walking into the living room. Looking out of that window.

[10:14 a.m.] Standing on the balcony, watching seagulls making love on a roof. It is not cute. A big, dazed bumble bee, already busy, flies around looking for the meaning of life, creating a feeling of melancholy. Feel like touching its fuzzy yellow-black body and wish it luck. 

Another busy creature, the postman, comes on his yellow bicycle, wearing shorts today (why not). He picks up the envelopes, the flyers and magazines from his huge, blue postbag in a relaxed and effortless way, totally at ease with his tasks. He walks slowly to the house next to ours.

On the street below, random people are walking almost aimlessly, like they are on vacation, like the narrow passage in our backyard is the Ramblas in Barcelona. But the people down there don't sound like tourists; the only thing you hear is the dampened sound of their slow footsteps on the asphalt, soft rubber soles, sometimes touching small pieces of gravel. No hard heels and no loud voices. It's like everybody is trying to compose a vast silence, together. A minute of silence after a minute of silence. The only distinct sounds are the spring birds. For all of them, it's business as usual and the only creatures behaving like they are on a charter trip are the seagulls. Screaming, fighting, fking, acting like they own this place.

[11:30 a.m.] Continuing to read. The book I'm reading smells like dust in a warm attic, its pages yellowed by sunlight and antique cigarette smoke.

[11:55 a.m.] Doing a breathing exercise in order to get the mucus out of the lungs and I end up coughing up a big lump of white-yellow slime that lands on the wooden floor. Looking down at something from another world and it feels like it is looking back at me. I go to the toilet, gather a big ball of toilet paper, go back into the living room and carefully wipes up the slime. I throw the paper in the toilet and look at myself in the mirror. It is unworthy to be sick. Unworthy. 

[1:15 p.m.] Drinking water. Getting a text from Bjorn, asking me if I want to DJ at a livestream event next month. Seriously considering this for a moment, which must be a sign of illness. 

[2:02 p.m.] Have noticed that movies in black and white work better when you are sick, It's like there's more space in them. Watching Wim Wenders' "Der himmel über Berlin" for the first time on a fantastic Swedish movie site and one scene takes my breath away. The camera zooms in on a woman sitting in a laundromat thinking about all the stuff she needs to fix at home before her husband gets there: cooking food, doing the dishes, vacuuming. In the middle of her thoughts, the image changes from black and white to color, illuminating a long row of dark-red washing machines. This almost makes me cry. Don't know why. 

[5:30 p.m.–8 p.m.] Coughing.

[8 p.m.] Going to bed. Feel a bit better than yesterday evening. Before I turn out the light, I read the last lines of a poem by Tranströmer: 

"Outside, the late spring.
From the greenery a whistling - people or birds?
And cherry trees in bloom pat the heavy trucks on the way home.
Weeks go by.
Slowly night comes.
Moths settle down on the pane:
small pale telegrams from the world."

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.

Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More



Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'

GRAMMYs/Jul 8, 2019 - 10:04 pm

In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.

"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.

Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.

"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."

Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American. 

"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."

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Jay-Z And Meek Mill's REFORM Donates Surgical Masks To Vulnerable Prison Population

Meek Mill

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

GRAMMYs/Apr 7, 2020 - 05:01 am

Jay-Z and Meek Mill's criminal justice reform organization REFORM has donated roughly 100,000 surgical masks to correctional facilities including in the states of New York, Tennessee and Mississippi.

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. 

Across the nation, COVID-19 cases have been popping up in correctional facilities, including North Carolina, Florida and Tennessee

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


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

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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Dreamville Festival 2020 Is Officially Canceled Due To COVID-19

J. Cole

Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images


Dreamville Festival 2020 Is Officially Canceled Due To COVID-19

The second annual music festival from J. Cole's Dreamville Records squad and friends was first postponed from April until August, and will now have to wait until 2021

GRAMMYs/May 19, 2020 - 02:27 am

Dreamville Festival has announced they are canceling their 2020 event due to public safety concerns caused by coronavirus. The second annual edition of the one-day music fest, hosted by J. Cole and his talent-filled Dreamville Records, was originally slated to take place on April 6 at Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh, N.C., but was rescheduled to Aug. 29 after the pandemic struck the U.S.

Like countless other events that were set to take place this year, it will now have to wait until 2021. Dreamville says all 2020 ticket holders will be receive refunds soon.

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"After much deliberation and careful monitoring of the current situation, we have decided to cancel Dreamville Festival 2020. Although we originally hoped it would be possible to bring you the festival this August, the ongoing uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic has made this timeline no longer possible. This decision has been extremely difficult to make, but the safety of our fans, artists, and staff is always our top priority, and nothing will ever take precedence over your well-being," the organizers wrote in a statement shared across their social channels and on the fest's website.

The message also shared details on refunds, noting that all tickets purchased online will automatically be refunded to the original payment method, beginning this week. Fans who bought physical tickets from official points of purchase can request a refund here.

"Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this. Please stay safe, healthy, and sane so we can reunite with you in 2021," the statement added.

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According to Pitchfork, the debut Dreamville fest also faced unforeseen setbacks; it was originally set for Sept. 15, 2018 at Dorothea Dix Park but was pushed to April 6, 2019, due to Hurricane Florence. The 2019 event featured performances from Dreamville head Cole and labelmates J.I.D, BAS and Ari Lennox, as well as SZA, Big Sean, 21 Savage, 6LACK, Rapsody, Nelly and other heavy-hitters in hip-hop and R&B.

No artists have been revealed yet for the second edition of the fest.

The Dreamville squad earned their first two collective GRAMMY nominations at the most recent 62nd GRAMMY Awards; for Best Rap Album for the collaborative Revenge Of The Dreamers III and Best Rap Performance for one of its singles, "Down Bad." Cole earned a total of five nods, including for his work on that project, and took him his first GRAMMY win for his feature on 21 Savage's "A Lot."

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