Isolation Drills: Lily McKown

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.

McKown: Since the beginning of COVID-19, I’ve been taking time to write new music as well as focus on the release for my album. I was living in West Philly, but I left abruptly in March at the beginning of quarantine. I’m now back living at home, and I’ve been really lucky to be here and not stuck in my apartment. I would probably go crazy if I was still there.

It’s nice to be able to go outside in the backyard and not have to worry about coming into contact with anyone. There’s a lot of space here and woods, and I can clear my head. We live behind West Laurel Hill Cemetery, so I walk a lot in there. It’s actually a certified arboretum, so my sister likes to quiz me on the different types of trees.

Being in quarantine has helped me to discover a new work ethic. I’m currently not working a job, so I have the privilege to dedicate all my time and energy toward music.

I’ve been finding ways to manage my time and take advantage of this strange time. I’m also kind of a germaphobe, so I’ve been taking the virus pretty seriously. I enjoy spending time alone, but I definitely miss Philly and seeing my friends. 

I’m from Montgomery County, so I was alarmed and disgusted when I heard about the statement by County Commissioner Joe Gale. He issued a statement saying that Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization. Since this is my hometown, I feel responsible to voice my disapproval and to inform my friends, family and community. I made a bunch of fliers and stapled them on telephone poles all around the town. It was interesting to see how quickly in some places they got torn down. Since the majority of them were gone in a day or two, I resorted to using wheat paste so nobody could take them down.

Back in June, I was a part of the Fuel The Fight compilation by Madalean Gauze. All the proceeds raised money for essential workers in Philly. I contributed a song that I wrote and recorded during quarantine called “Roller Rink.”

Lately, I have been focusing on the release of my album. It came out August 14, and it’s called Backseat Driver. We recorded it back in December 2019 when the world was very different. I’m disappointed I can’t play shows, but I’m trying to keep a positive outlook on the situation. I try to remind myself that this is affecting everyone, and that we’re all in the same boat.