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From Isolation: how artists are adapting to lockdown, part i

With this unprecedented crisis, and with many countries in lockdown, DJ Mag has been asking DJs what they’re getting up to while isolated in their own homes. Here, we speak with Nervo, Solardo and Nastia about life during lockdown

How have you been spending your days in isolation? Can you briefly talk us through a typical day?

Liv: I am at the home we grew up in in Melbourne, Australia. Our grandmother has moved in and one person per week leaves to do a grocery shop. We have five people in our family who could be at high-risk of COVID-19, so we are all doing our best to stay isolated. We wake up, all have breakfast, watch the news (we are glued to it these days) and then someone prepares food. I have been playing the piano again, which has been really lovely, and my baby Ace has a lot of love around her.

Mim: I am in Barcelona with my partner, his parents and our baby Ithaca. We are on complete lockdown. We do not use the elevator, we stay indoors and we try not to watch too much news. I slowly chip away at emails. Yesterday I felt like being creative, so I worked on a small idea which I sent to Liv before I went to bed, so she can develop it further. These are the times we live in. It’s hard but thank god for Skype, WhatsApp and all the technology that makes staying in touch with family and work possible.

It's obviously a very anxious time for everyone. What strategies have you come up with personally to help deal with that?

We try and stay creative, and to enjoy this forced vacation. It’s actually really lovely to be home with family and our babies. We have never had this much time off

The DJing work has dried up for everyone. How have you managed to keep creative?

With all the hours in the day, it’s easy to be creative. The main issue we have is that it’s difficult not being together. We create our best work, and quicker, when we are together.

What’s on your isolation playlist?

Lots of unfinished records we are working on.

How is everything in the community where you live?

Liv: Australia seems to be quite relaxed compared to other countries. We haven’t seen police patrolling the streets.

Mim: Barcelona has really come together. Every night at 8pm people bang their pots and pans as a sign of respect for the health workers, who are working so hard for the community. We are so grateful for their service. It’s very touching hearing the neighbourhood pay their respects.

The crisis is terrible for everybody, but has anything good come out of it?

We feel like there is a stronger sense of community. Everyone now realises, more than ever, how important it is to look after our health and health workers.

What’s your message to your fans, and to the international electronic dance music scene in general?

While COVID-19 is completely crushing our industry’s live business, it can never destroy it. Our love for music and our need to dance will prevail. Our thoughts are with everyone who has suffered through this virus. We are united in our pain and our will to overcome it.

How have you been spending your days in isolation? Can you briefly talk us through a typical day?

Mark: I’ve been spending as much time as possible being creative and keeping positive. I’ve taken Manchester United to the top of the league on FIFA20 on PlayStation, and it’s looking like we might win the Champions League, which is a bonus. I’m making the most of the time I have off to do things I don't usually get time to do. I've been making a lot of new music, which will be ready for as soon as we get out of this mess. I’ve found it a lot easier to make music and be creative as I’m not as tired and worn out as I usually am, which comes from touring. I'm also getting to spend a lot more time with my wife and kids, which is great. These times are shit but it’s about making the most out of what you’ve got, so I’m drawing huge positives from this situation.

It's obviously a very anxious time for everyone. What strategies have you come up with personally to help deal with that?

Mark: It’s very much about being positive and focusing on the things that matter. I also find not watching the news all day helps massively. When this all started I was stuck to the TV, watching every little update for the first few days, but it was affecting my mental health, making me feel down and anxious. I soon realised that, to get through this, we have to be cautious, wash our hands, take no unnecessary risks, and focus on coming out the other side stronger. Making music has played a huge part in keeping me focused.

The DJing work has dried up for everyone. How have you managed to keep creative?

Mark: I’m in the studio everyday, using this time to make as much music as possible.

What’s on your isolation playlist?

Mark: I love '90s house, so it’s a mixture of that and Oasis at the moment.

How is everything in the community where you live?

Mark: I’ve recently moved to the suburbs and it’s full of old people. I’m the youngest on the street. I went out the other morning with my dog and delivered letters to all the houses, offering help if anyone needs anything. I did half the street but then got my wife to do the rest — I realised that I looked like a burglar, and I was probably scaring people by walking up there drives with a cap and hoodie on! I then got a letter of thanks back from a neighbour, who pointed out that I had put the wrong phone number on the letter. So now I’m going to have to go and post them all again, this time around with the right number on.

The crisis is terrible for everybody, but has anything good come out of it?

Mark: It’s definitely bringing people together and restoring some humanity. It’s also showed the flaws in our NHS, which at the end of this whole thing will have gained all the support and respect that it deserves.

What’s your message to your fans, and to the international electronic dance music scene in general?

Mark: Times are extremely hard but if we all pull together and help each other, we will get through this and come out stronger than ever.

How have you been spending your days in isolation? Can you briefly talk us through a typical day?

I wake up in the morning, do exercises or yoga, then during the day I cook, read books, sort out records that I haven’t touched for years, meditate and watch documentaries. Once a week, I have some kind of livestream I need to prepare. The rest of my time is spent with my daughter. We watch something together or she reads a book with me. I am trying to enjoy it to the max. I take quarantine as a gift and opportunity to do things that I never normally have time for.

It's obviously a very anxious time for everyone. What strategies have you come up with personally to help deal with that?

I don't have a strategy or something special in mind. Because I meditate, exercise and minimise digital life, I feel balanced. I just enjoy every day of my temporary slow life as if it’s something natural.

The DJing work has dried up for everyone. How have you managed to keep creative?

I see tons of livestreams and all of them look pretty poor and boring, so I am thinking of how to make them look interesting and different: installations, art objects, what the whole camera view could look like.

What’s on your isolation playlist?

I listen to my vinyl collection as part of my work, sorting and finding what I have forgotten, and to my drum & bass mixes for my soul. Nothing less, nothing more.

How is everything in the community where you live?

I have no idea as I don't see anyone. I am almost sure it's pretty much the same routine as mine.

What’s your message to your fans, and to the international electronic dance music scene in general?

I think the best thing to do now is to make yourself busy with studying, reading, learning, and watching documentaries. Don't waste your time. Use it wisely, because this too shall pass!

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Carl Loben is the Editor-in-Chief of DJ Mag. You can follow him on Twitter here