Isolation Drills: Nicole June

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.

June: COVID shut down my whole world. I was gigging, working at a studio and bartending prior to March 16, 2020. I was making progress toward my goals, but I never had a day off. Then the shutdowns hit, and all I had was time.

I’ve been staying creatively busy. It’s always been how I fill my free time. Since we can’t really go out to jam or meet new musicians, I’ve been writing and recording a lot.

I like to think I’m getting better at recording myself, which works out nicely since I prefer to record at home rather than in a studio. Recording yourself does take up a lot of time and energy though. Lately, I’ve gotten back into just practicing my instruments.

I’ve also noticed a shift in what I want to create. When I was buzzing around the city all the time, I wanted to make music that sounded like what I was hearing everywhere. Sample-based beats and edgy hip hop were dominating the scene I was in, so I started working on ideas/songs that required a lot of electronic production.

Now that I’ve had time away from the city, I’ve gotten more back to my roots of just playing and singing. I’ve got a few “produced” songs to finish, and then I may head in a more acoustic direction. But overall, the time and space that the shutdowns have afforded me allowed me to realize that I can make whatever I feel like making in the moment. It’s not about committing to a certain sound or trying to make a hit; it’s just about creating for creation’s sake.

This past year has been tough, but I’ve learned a lot and I’m excited for the scene in Philly to come back to life.