Isolation Drills: King Azaz

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.

Christo Johnson (guitar, vocals): It’s been pretty difficult to be able to sit down and write about how I’ve been doing over the past couple of months. It’s really been quite a mixed bag. On one hand, I’ve been super relieved and have been reveling in the fact that I was pushed to leave a job that was a really shitty environment for me but that I was too exhausted to leave. I am super fortunate in that government money has been coming through and that I’ve been able to use this time to get some much needed rest and reflection. On the other hand, the length of this isolation is finally starting to activate the anxiety, malaise and depression that I knew was coming. But I’m trying very hard to stay ahead of all of that.

While being far apart has been our reality as a band for the past few years, this has been a particularly jarring stint of time for us to not be creating together. We’re currently finishing up a full-length that’s been in the works for about a year now; it’s the thing that I’m most proud of having made thus far, and it feels like we’ve both been endlessly pouring ourselves into it. While a lot of our plans for this spring and summer have been cancelled or put on hold, I’m trying to see the positive in this and thinking about how we can strategically rework those plans to put us in a better place once we’re ready to release the album and are able to tour.

I’m trying to see the positive in everything in general right now. I recognize the privilege in being able to say that, but it is one of the few things that has been keeping me from completely spiraling out mentally and emotionally. This pandemic continues to amplify the extent to which capitalism, sexism and racism have stratified and so deeply damaged the world that we live in, how what has been forced upon us as “normal” for so long is so fundamentally violent. The positive that I’m hoping for is that through this fucked-up time, the anger and resistance will grow to be so loud that a sea change is inevitable. Here’s to hoping.

Sarah Schardt (drums): The last show we played was Two Piece Fest back in February, and we came away from that show feeling really energized and looking forward to a really fun summer. Since then, we haven’t practiced together once, had to cancel all of our planned shows and have had to put our album release and tour plans on hold. I spent the first few weeks of quarantine feeling really bummed, scared and just adjusting to a new kind of normal. It’s been really inspiring, though, to see musicians adapting and continuing to support one another. I initially thought livestream shows would be pretty unfun, but they’re actually a really unique and cool experience. I’m constantly reminded of how innovative, creative and supportive the DIY music community is, and it gives me hope for the future of music in the time of Covid-19.

Christo and I haven’t really talked much about a livestream set yet. It’s something you may see from us in the future or may not—we’re not sure. We do have a new single out that you can hear at The Key, and we are continuing to work on mixing and mastering our new album, which will be out this summer. Despite having to hit the pause button on some of our plans as a band, we’re both thankful to be weathering this global crisis as best we can and hope to be back playing live for you all as soon as we can