Isolation Drills: John Dominy (Dominy)

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.

Dominy: The downtime that COVID has imposed on us as a band has been a mixed blessing. The beginning of the crisis was difficult. We watched tour dates fall apart and grappled with the reality that our lives as musicians might not look the same for a while. Playing shows, recording music, piling into a sweaty van and driving across the country simply feels baked into our DNA, and it’s been hard to set that aside. That being said, getting a break from the grind of touring and promotion has been a blessing in disguise. I’ve had time to hone my craft as a musician, as well as to reflect on my own mental and spiritual well-being.

I’ve reevaluated my relationship with the craft of making music and dedicated time to improving my playing, to listening deeply to my favourite records, and to enjoy playing music for its own sake. It can be easy to lose sight of these details while juggling the responsibilities of a working musician. I’ve learned to slow down, focus on the details of my performance and really savor the doing of the thing. From brushing up on percussion, practicing piano, to running through vocal exercises from back in my days in musical theater, I’ve coped with the shut down by working to become a more well-rounded musician. It’s been fulfilling to remember why I feel in love with making music.

The COVID crisis has also forced me to adopt a healthier relationship with myself and with the world of music. Before this crisis, I lived in a constant state of FOMO, anxiously comparing our band’s progress to that of others. This experience has highlighted the reality that all success is temporary. I’ve learned to stop pegging my happiness to some arbitrary societal metric and focus on the friendship and adventure that I’ve enjoyed as a musician. I am immensely blessed to have such great friends for bandmates, and that alone is its own reward. And unlike success or visibility, friendship and love never fade.

I’ve also had the time to dive into so many interests and hobbies that I’ve had on the back burner for years. I’ve been biking, reading, hiking, connecting with friends and focusing on my health and well-being. There is so much spiritual goodness to be squeezed out of life, and I’ve been able to access an attitude of gratitude that I don’t think would have been possible a few months ago. 

COVID has been an absolute rollercoaster as a musician, but it has left me with a deep sense of gratitude. I have my health, my bandmates have their health. The shutdown of the music industry hasn’t been easy on us as a band, but we’ve learned to take it in stride. This pause has helped me reconnect with the relationships that make music—as well as just plain living—worth it. I can only hope that the world that emerges from this is more equitable and kinder.