Isolation Drills: Fried Monk x beautiful-fortune

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.

Lucas Kozinski (a.k.a. Fried Monk): When the shutdown happened in March of last year, I was about 10 days into my first serious tour as a sound tech. I mixed songs I love with a band I’m a genuine fan of in a different room every night. I was able to travel the country with some amazing people I had just met. Needless to say, I was real bummed taking that early flight back home.

The reality of things didn’t hit me for a couple days. I found my old PS1, which stayed on for a week due to broken memory cards and the need to beat THPS2. I started reading books again and made some bread like the rest of the world while watching lunatics on Netflix with exotic animals. Then I started getting nervous. My job for the past six years was working full time as a freelancer in production and event work. Like so many others, the world shutting down meant I had no job.

Guilt started setting in after having nothing on my calendar. I couldn’t remember the last time I didn’t have to plan out my week. It took me a good bit of time to find the motivation to pick up the guitar or open an Ableton session. Luckily, I still had some clients and friends reaching out to work on stuff. There were a few remote drum sessions I played/engineered and mixed a few more singles for the homies You Do You—they’ve got an album coming out that I’m really excited for. All of this gave me that confidence to work on my own music again. It might have been that lingering guilt, but I kept relatively busy throughout quarantine. I still felt like there weren’t enough hours in the day.

I released my last EP in May 2020 and had the time to really try and put out a record the right way. My friend Andrew held my hand setting up a “PR campaign, and I learned a lot from it. For example: I don’t ever want to do that again. I also found this community from Reddit called Indie Music Feedback and joined their Discord server. It’s an amazing community of artists who host events, provide opinions and track feedback, and genuinely give a shit about your art. I’d highly suggest checking them out.

When Jameel caught wind of the EP, he asked if I wanted to write together. We’ve worked together in the past, but my role was helping write Jameel Farruk songs. This time he wanted to co-write something with my Fried Monk cap on. We sent ideas back and forth and ended up with a rough idea for the first song “Patient Zero.” We later met at my studio, Sleepless Sound, finished that track and then wrote two more. 

Making these songs provided me with a lot of joy in an otherwise dark time. I thank Jameel for that.

Jameel Farruk (a.k.a beautiful-fortune): In a pre-pandemic world, I lived a life often spent on the road. Before the lockdown, it was typically unusual for me to be home for more than two or three weeks at a clip. I’m generally pretty extroverted, and I think many of my close friends and family were worried that being quarantined alone would be this extrovert’s worst nightmare.

The funny thing about traveling is that a ton of time is spent alone in transit. A great deal of those hours is time spent living in your own head. These were moments where I would dream up songs and hum ideas into my iPhone.

While I anticipated that it would be a long quarantine, and while I obviously spent much of this time missing family, friends, travel and what I knew to be normalcy, this time alone was also an opportunity.

For the first time in years I would have an undetermined amount of time, hunkered down in my home studio and the space to do more than just dream up songs. What was supposed to be an extrovert’s worst nightmare became an artist’s paradise for me.

My friend and longtime collaborator Lucas Kozinski has been playing on my records for years. Being that he works sound for music venues, he was unfortunately impacted early on by the pandemic. While I felt terrible for him, I admittedly and selfishly was happy that his schedule was much more flexible now. I knew I had to take advantage of this time to work with him.

I had a handful of tracks that needed drums. I asked Luke if he would work on the songs with me remotely, passing session files back and forth from my home studio and his studio. By summer of the pandemic—and with Luke’s masterful drumming—I released the first of a handful of soon to be released singles: “Lake Michigan.”

Luke and I have a great relationship as friends and songwriters that’s been five years in the running. I’m also a huge fan of his music. The difference with these sessions was that it was just the two of us recording the songs. 

We were riding a vibe, working really well and efficiently together. I started a side project called beautiful-fortune during the pandemic, releasing my own music in tandem with my own hand-drawn artwork. I decided to approach Luke and ask if he would be interested in working on songs together, not as my drummer, but as collaborators. I was and still am thrilled that he was onboard. Our first EP, Here As One, just came out. We couldn’t be prouder of it. 

Making music with Luke has been one of a handful of blessings for me during an otherwise dark and dreary time. I’m so glad we made the music together, and without him, I’m pretty sure this extrovert would have eventually found himself in a nightmare.