Isolation Drills: V. Shayne Frederick

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.

Frederick: There are many sides of this time we’re living through. Last year, I left my non-musical day job, intending to focus on art work, which also was essentially a full-time commitment. Basically, I was doing too much, and my sensibilities were leaning toward freeing myself. So I did. A few months later, after getting the best rest I’ve had in my life, while still working in music almost daily, the world shut down in March. All my future contracts and upcoming residencies were cancelled within two weeks. I took the opportunity to rest as never before. 

I explored focusing on the things I could better: matters of love and interpersonal relationships. I sat in my decision to become a musician; I evaluated all the strides I’d made over the last few years. I had time to reflect, to be deeply grateful, and to affirm that I am still on the path to a higher permutation of myself.

I’ve not had time like this my entire adult life. Time is dangerous to a thinker. With a deepening gratitude practice, a commitment to love in a different way and a desire to remain as clear and intentional as possible, life has a different shine to it.

Eventually, after a few months of literally barely even leaving my apartment, I felt urged to create music that speaks to all the shifts that were occurring on a global and personal scale. Both the microcosm and macrocosm seemed to be speaking of illumination and bravery, of truth and the dissolving of things impermanent. 

I called up a crew and went into the recording studio with a few of my favorite musicians to do a single we’d announce on Juneteenth. It was a very sterile, safe and comfortable environment. Within a few weeks, I’d decided to expand the idea to an EP, and I had already solidified all the collaborations and details. It seems like everyone involved wanted to contribute to the music and the energy. The EP, Blacklight, dropped at the beginning of September, and the world seems a little tighter and closer, maybe if only for this moment.

While we are still wrapping our minds around new ways of living, it is beautiful to create. Make no mistakes, we are all figuring out how to survive and what to sacrifice. But I’m still committed to making beautiful music.

There have even been a few live gigs along the way–mostly outdoors–during the latter half of summer. This reminds me that culture still needs art, and that people are still interested in participating in the divine act of creation.

I’m grateful for time to expand the way I approach making music, utilize technology, diversify my creative portfolio with home recording and remain a creator. Game on.