Isolation Drills: Vassal

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.

Sara Chodak (a.k.a. Vassal): As a creator, while this current time period has been maddening, it’s been the best thing for me, and only slightly the worst. Unlike other musicians, I haven’t exactly been able to use quarantine as a time to write endless albums and livestream multiple times a week. I am lucky to have a job at a supermarket, which alleviates stress that I know others are feeling. I also have still not graduated high school, so I’m keeping busy and my day-to-day life has not changed much. However, as an artist, there have been a few internal changes. I see it as a time to grow and evolve not only as a person, but as a songwriter as well.

Even though my life stays busy, and the world around me is chaotic, I’ve felt more inspired than ever. Playing shows is still one of my favorite things to do as a musician, but this break has been truly freeing. It’s given me a chance to step back and reevaluate why I started making songs. Which was always to form my experiences, thoughts and pain into art that helps me cope with my trials and tribulations as a young adult. And now, just turning 18, I can look outside myself and see the new songs maturing from a young teenager writing about heartbreak, to now writing about my frustrations on the political climate and divided world that I’m not sure where I stand in. Covid -19 has only driven my need to start talking about these situations I now see more clearly.

As well as giving me more space to write and create, this pause in performing has allowed me to have more drive to start putting some new content out. I’ve started to record my first full-length album, Make Me The Queen, and I’m in the last stages of putting a short story/poetry book out. It will be interesting to most likely have to market these two completely online, but I’m very excited to put them out into the world.

So while I cannot wait to get back to get back to the venues and share and connect with an audience again, I’ve been enjoying getting back to my roots. But when this is all over, I cannot wait to come out the other side and see all of the other wonderful creations my fellow musicians have made.