Isolation Drills: Birdie Busch

Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.

Busch: I started quarantine a little sooner than many in that I returned from a trip to Spain on March 10. We were being advised to self-quarantine for 14 days. So we returned with the experience of witnessing within a short span Spain going from business as usual to closing down the schools as we flew out of Madrid. We told family and friends of our need to isolate; within a week, everyone here was headed to a similar state of being.

I work various jobs in tandem with music, but when those jobs all dropped off due to the mandated sheltering, all of a sudden I became focused in this immense stillness on what means the most to me. I brought out all my old journals and reread a lot, looking for clues for future songs. Music is my life force; it never leaves me, and it is my ultimate tool and transmitter.

That being said, I’m wanting to support the community with the work that I can do and finding ways to do that—raising money for Covid-19 relief through virtual concerts and recordings. We contributed to compilations like Co-Mission​ (put out by Folkadelphia to help musicians who can’t play live at this time) and Fuel The Fight​ (a 61-song effort to raise money for essential workers spearheaded by Philly’s own Madalean Gauze). One of the reasons we moved to this house was because it is free-standing, which is more of a rarity in Philadelphia. It allows us to record everything with total abandonment knowing we aren’t affecting the neighbors. Todd Erk and I have recorded and mixed all of the music here. We sent one of the tracks to a long-standing collaborator, Devin Greenwood, to be mastered at his studio, The Honey Jar in Dumbo, Brooklyn. He’s an amazing musician and engineer, and it was a treat to be able to work remotely right now “together.”

I started playing live online, something I never did before, and it’s been a centering activity. Every Sunday, as long as we’re being told to stay home, I am on Instagram from 4pm-5pm EST playing what I call “The Secret Hour.” It’s a promise I plan to keep. It has me contemplating the communion of live performance. In some ways, virtual performance feels akin to being an astronaut radioing from space, but it is still a shared experience happening in real time with extra strong aspirations for connection at this time. I hope that if anything, I come out of it all more attune and that music can continue to carry me to where I need to go.

I recommend checking out the two compilations we participated in that support Covid-19 relief: Co-Mission and Fuel The Fight.