Isolation Drills: Angelo Outlaw, Jr. (Jello Vibes)

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.

Outlaw: COVID has changed me as an artist in many ways. With so many up-and-down moments emotionally in combination with being quarantined, it really gave room for a lot of inspiration.

I work in IT and my job has been remote since March 2020. I was very fortunate and didn’t lose my job when everything went down last year. My company just shut down our offices, and I’ve been working in my apartment. Upon realizing I had more time during my day because I was cutting out my commute, I would just fill that time with music production. A lot of my second album, Uneven Contact (which came out last May), was made during this time. 

I had a lot of shows in 2020 get rescheduled/canceled because of COVID. This really hit me hard because I was looking forward to those performances. One of the biggest show I had booked was opening for Roy Ayers. Hopefully, some of them get rescheduled. Seeing live music was a big part of my life as well before COVID. Philly has an amazing music scene that has just been put on pause for the last year. I’ll be really looking forward to being a part of that music scene once things open up again.

On the flip side of that, having no gigs and staying home for the most part has helped me accelerate my music career. I’ve created the most music I’ve ever created in the past year. I have also connected with some incredible musicians who were essentially doing the same thing: creating more music because of isolation. So that has been a blessing in disguise.

I’ve achieved a lot of my personal goals during this time in quarantine. I’ve collaborated with some of my all time favorite musicians including producers Hibernation and Prefuse 73. I was also recently on WXPN radio with Helen Leicht, who played my song that I collaborated on with Eraserhood Sound: “Forgotten Tomorrows.” I am also be releasing my next double EP, The Outlaw Sessions.

I’m an avid traveler, and me being in one place for this long is definitely odd for me. I’ve probably been on at least one flight a month for the last decade. I lived in Nashville for about nine years, and at the time, I was playing and teaching music down there. When I moved back to Philly three years ago, I would continue to travel back to Nashville to teach. The group that I teach is a non-profit: Music City Mystique. Me not being able to travel to see my students has been extremely tough. 

Overall, I’m ready for the pandemic to be over so things can go back to semi-normal. One thing I am going to take away from being in isolation is that I was in general stretched too thin. I definitely am looking forward to a more balanced life that will also support my artistic goals.