Isolation Drills: Olivia Rubini

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.

Rubini: Ironically, the last 11 months of quarantine have been a time of extreme inspiration and productivity for me, as well as many other artists and creatives. This long stretch of time has allowed me to ignore the hustle of normal life and focus solely on creating; my debut album, Silhouettes, is the result of this unexpectedly advantageous time. 

While managing life as an over-worked college student at home, I was able to write, formulate new ideas, find new inspiration, explore my identity as an artist and make music that reflected this new identity. Along with finding new hobbies, such as morning yoga and deep meditation practices, my time spent in quarantine was filled with continual creativity and exploration of the self in varying aspects.

For the last three years, living on a college campus full of endless distractions served as a preoccupation rather than the time of self-discovery it’s made out to be. In an odd way, this quarantine time allowed me to live a life void of distractions, honed in on self-reflection and inspiration of all kinds, both personally and musically. 

As I mentioned earlier, this time allowed me to put my complete focus on my long-awaited goal of releasing a full-length record (rather than singles, as I have been for the past six years). The year 2020, while being a time of intense stress and anxiety, was an opportunity.

I believe it’s times like this when the world needs art and creative people the most; amidst intense hardship, joy can always be found in art and this thought truly sparked my creativity in a way that I had never experienced.

While pondering this idea, I was able to find inspiration for lighthearted songs like “Never Call Me, But Call Me” and “Just Around,” which never fail to procure a smile or chuckle from their listeners. I truly wanted to create an emotional escape through music and artwork, and I feel as though quarantine, in one way or another, gave way to this expression.

Although quarantine expanded the opportunity in some aspects of artistic life, other aspects, such as live performances, were greatly limited. I still managed to perform several times, through Zoom, which was an unexpectedly positive experience. Receiving applause via emojis on Zoom chat will never not be weird.

While I am optimistic and eager for the sense of normalcy to return to the world, I’m oddly grateful for this time in isolation that allowed me to create and discover in a way that would have otherwise been impossible.