Isolation Drills: PJ Brown

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.

Brown: When I think back to March, one of the strongest memories is going to work one day, coming home, sitting in my chair and then getting the group text: “It’s official, the city has been shut down.” Aside from one last trip to the laundromat, I’ve been in the house ever since. This wasn’t a complete disappointment; I’m a homebody, and I’m used to solitude. The true horror came from watching the news and scrolling through social media. Seeing the uptick in violence. Not seeing people put on masks, but finally ripping the masks of societal pretense off, thus revealing their hatred and selfishness. 

But then, something magical happened. Pressing against all of that ugliness was a reckoning. People fighting back with love, strength, compassion and—my personal favorite—art.

It’s amazing to me that art programs are usually some of the first programs that get cut and swept to the side when it’s time to talk money and budgets. But art is the thing that sustains us emotionally and mentally throughout just about anything we go through. That’s why we play music. That’s why we buy beautiful cards and order flower arrangements. 
Having some medical concerns of my own, I went right into protection mode; I tucked myself away into my turtle shell, made sure I was doing everything I needed to do and hoped for the best. But I wanted to be of service as well. Luckily, I found ways of doing my part from a safe distance.

As for art, my band, PJ Brown & Her Resistance, learned how to create from a distance. We are continuing our work on our album in progress, and we are missing working together in the same room terribly. But if nothing else, this experience will be unforgettable. And the art we create from it will be a time capsule of this metamorphic time in the world.