Isolation Drills: This Way To The EGRESS

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, taken at Brauhaus Schmitz, Philadelphia.

Sarah Shown (vocals, piano, violin): I’d be lying if I said these last six months weren’t a series of serious ups and downs. It’s come in waves of grief, motivation, fear, fury, inspiration, overwhelm and sadness. On the other hand, that’s literally what has fueled us to keep going.

Initially, it took a couple of weeks for us to realize the depth of what was actually happening. Our last recording session for our new record was in February, and we had literally just launched a Kickstarter to raise the money for pressing, PR and merch.

About halfway through our Kickstarter campaign, Taylor (Galassi; vocals, accordion, piano) and I had the discussion about whether we should cancel it. It felt so horrible, asking for money for a record when folks were losing their jobs, their homes and their lives.

We posted our thoughts on this on our social media and were utterly humbled by the response we had gotten. It seemed that more than ever, folks were longing for a release from this reality. We raised our goal in a matter of days and knew that somehow in all of this, music was needed now more than ever, so we push on.

Luckily, as DIY artists in a very unique subset of the industry, we were able to adapt pretty quickly. Shifting our presence to our Patreon and online presence, we have managed to stay afloat. When our albums arrived, we had loaded all six boxes of our 1,500 CDs into our home and at first burst with joy.

However, shortly after, we thought to ourselves, “What in the world are we going to do with all of these CDs being that we cannot tour or gig?” I sunk pretty low after that. Luckily, Taylor is a bit of an optimist, and with his help, I pulled myself out of the trenches.

We miss shows. Our shows are an immersive experience between us and the audience. They feed us as much as our music feeds them, and we miss it. We worked so hard on this album to create something unique, honest and real for lovers of music eclecticism, it’s hard not having the ability to perform, and there’s no end in sight as of now.

It isn’t all doom and gloom, though. We are so appreciative that we live in a time where technology is so advanced that we can still keep doing what we love to do. When the uncertainty sinks in, that’s what we focus on. We have very supportive fans, and now more than ever, music matters.

We are focusing more on honoring our community than we are bringing others into it. Those who are meant to find our band will, and in the meantime, we will strengthen our bonds with our community and heal together. Music matters. The arts matter.

It’s always a wild ride. Now it’s just a wild ride in a mask.