Isolation Drills: Beth Arnold Gilbert (Karmalatta)

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.

Gilbert: Hmmm, how am I doing? Well, it’s been a bit of a moving target, but getting more into the new flow of things everyday. The important thing is that I still heart creating music and playing to an audience!

I write music in the alternative-rock genre. Prior to 2020, I did most of my writing/recording within a band setting. Turns out my band Karmalatta chose to release our second CD, Don’t Wanna Talk About It, on March 13: the first day of our pandemic shutdown! Hilarious! And I remember specifically picking that date, the 13th, a lucky number for me. Not this year!

It’s all good now, though, since I’ve gotten an upper hand on this isolation stuff. 

Pandemic isolation is on a whole other level and has really tested the strength of my introvert-ness tendencies, which by the way are pretty strong 🙂

2020 was moving me into solo ventures anyway. My new site at ArnaGilMusic on social media was just getting started when the COVID hit. But ya know, pandemics hit, social inequities become blaring, protest marches need to be supported, and shows need to be cancelled. So we adjust. 

I find music to be inspiring and a “saving grace” (incidentally, the name of an amazing Tom Petty song) of sorts. Creating a song has that same effect. It is like a lovely drug. The challenge of working out a song, a melody, guitar parts and lyrics—love it all, pandemic or no pandemic. I continue to learn every day. I look back on so many mistakes, but I also feel very good about all the music projects I have been a part of so far. It is never good enough, though. You gotta keep pushing forward and you gotta share it. I am so fortunate to have a musical outlet as a way to connect with people. That’s why playing live is so special.

But here we are in a pandemic, and for now, to reach your audience, you have to mostly livestream. Very stressful, but you can’t stop the music!

I was lucky enough to be featured in one of the “Mini FB Live” for Ladybug Festival in April, and just like that, I joined the “Livestream During COVID” club. I also performed one of my new songs for PhillyCAM’s Bright Star Buzz “Solitude Jams” in May. Both were great experiences.

I mean, who knows what the music landscape will be post-COVID, but I definitely want the musical magic back. I want to be part of a festival again, to play live again. I want to be in the moment with others and to make some more memories.

For now, while the world gets itself together, I am pretty excited about recording.

I am looking to capture some magic on my solo release, expected to come out this year. It’s a yet-unnamed six-song EP release. I will be keeping my ArnaGilMusic social pages up to date with the progress, so check them out!

Lastly, I’d really like to thank MAGNET for caring about the musicians and giving us this outlet tell our stories. And Chris Sikich for helping us live musical moments through his photographs. Thank you, thank you, thank you!