Isolation Drills: Kirby Sybert

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.

Sybert: 2020 has felt like 10 years in one. The Murphy’s Law of years. It’s been a tumultuous, eye-opening, mind-altering journey, and it’s not even over yet. We had played some shows early in the year, and when we got offstage, we were saying things like, “This year is going to be amazing.” And, “We’re just getting started.” Little did we know we wouldn’t be doing any of the things we had set out to do in January, which feels like a lifetime away at this point.

This whole year has tested everything about who I am. There have been so many social, ethical, moral quandaries that have questioned who I am and who I want to surround myself with, but this period of reflection has been necessary. I haven’t had a chance in years to just shut down. The lockdown forced me to, whether I wanted to or not, stop doing anything that had been normal.

For the past eight years, I’ve been on the road six months out of the year. Touring with Mo Lowda & The Humble, solo or with other musical endeavors that existed for a long enough to play some shows in little towns to strangers who wanted some live music. The other half of the year I’d be working with artists to create their visual vision with music videos, commercials or any other video project that comes down the creative pipeline. This year has been a significant change to any semblance of normal for my creativity, but it has opened me up to things I wasn’t expecting.

There have been rays of light in the otherwise murky water of 2020. This change of pace has slowed me down. When normally I’d be thinking 10 steps ahead of myself in visual projects and music, I’ve now had time to really revel in what I’ve been gifted in life. The joys of waking up and having coffee, being with my loved ones and really being there with them, and reconnecting with nature. Despite my normalcy being changed in a big way creatively, it’s shown me how important live music and collaborating is in my life. I was taking for granted the ability to collaborate and tour and create when the world was “normal.” Something I will never take for granted again.

The importance of our public spaces, our activities, our togetherness. We need each other, now more than ever. 2020 has opened our eyes to what’s really important. So when things return, like live music and public gatherings, I know that we won’t take it for granted. We’ll know what it was like to be unable to leave the house, and we’ll share that together. When that day does come, we’ll all be ready to share in that togetherness.