Cork musicians talk about resilience and moving forward in 2021

While most of us are glad to be rid of the year 2020, everyone has emerged on the other side with valuable life lessons, if nothing else. Mike McGrath-Bryan with some of the artists, promoters, writers and venue owners in Cork's music scene about what they've learned, and how they're looking at moving forward.
Cork musicians talk about resilience and moving forward in 2021

Ray Blackwell in DeBarra’s Folk Club, Clonakilty. Picture: Bríd O’Donovan

STEVIE G (DJ, radio host, promoter, columnist, producer) 

We've all spent a lot more time thinking about how we spend our money, especially when we have less of it. Supporting independent artists and music is gonna be important as we try to build a sense of community going forward. Cork is a small but colourful and diverse city and we have a good opportunity to benefit when this all ends eventually.

JIM SPILLANE (Dirty Casuals) 

Some bands and musicians have taken lockdown as an opportunity to provide a more intimate approach to their performing, and it's something that should be used more going forward.

TOMÁS DALY (electronic musician, Laserface, Ctrl-Alt-Delete) 

The cancellation of live music and events has allowed us to re-focus our energy, and creative spirits still run free in any situation. I even made a filthy hip hop album from the boredom!

Kestine Ugbodu: The only choice for us is to have the mentality to move forward. 	Picture: IAMACOSMONAUT
Kestine Ugbodu: The only choice for us is to have the mentality to move forward. Picture: IAMACOSMONAUT

We don’t really have a choice but to do (all this) again, and we do this by making a choice where we use our 2020 experience to our advantage, to create a better situation for ourselves. The only choice for us is to have the mentality to move forward. It’s the choice that allows us to create and bring to reality a better tomorrow.

JAKE O’DRISCOLL (God Alone) 

Physical exercise and tunes are the best way to improve your mood, especially in times like these. Being able to run around with my friends and kick a ball, when we were able to, had a monumentally positive impact on my mental health, and something as simple as going for a stroll can have a massive effect on your day. Bandcamp Friday every month was fantastic also, in supporting musicians throughout the year, and we all managed to find and buy stuff from a rake of unreal artists while in lockdown.

NIALL DENNEHY (Art Crimes Band) 

For me, I tried to exercise as much as possible at home. I usually keep active but burning off the anxiety and self doubt has been a priority for me. Aside from that I finally had an opportunity to submerge myself with my own music projects I'd had on the back burner for years and give them the time and attention they deserve. And also give undivided attention to write new music for an upcoming album with my group The Art Crimes Band. So I still kept occupied and was still trying to work toward something regardless.

MAGS BLACKBURN (musician.ie, Blue Monkey PR) 

There was a lot learned during lockdown 1 and lockdown 2. This time will be different, just like each of those was different. Our experience of each ensures that but we have developed tools that will help us through this next lockdown. How? The path is starting to become clearer but it will be one foot in front of the other. One step at a time.

Joe O'Leary: Time to build on what we achieved last year.
Joe O'Leary: Time to build on what we achieved last year.

Right now, we'd like to build on what we achieved last year in Levis', which sometimes made little sense financially, but a lot of sense in every other single way. But also, right now, it being the depths of winter with things being pretty dismal on the Covid numbers front, it’s hard to plan too much, and it’s guesswork as to what time frame to plan it for. We're thinking it'll be April or May at least before we can do anything again, so plenty of time for planning. The hope is to run another series of food trucks - last year we had Mexican and Ramen - and a series of outdoor concerts.

RAY BLACKWELL (DeBarra’s of Clonakilty) 

I suppose the rallying cry from the Live Venue Collective, and all the work we have achieved with this group, has put us in a position to be better able to deal with more lockdowns. 23 independent music venues and their teams have all dipped their toes into live streaming, and so we have a plan and knowledge of how to implement and improve our online musical offerings, as it looks like real gigs will be a while before they get up and running again.

Jonathan Pearson: Cork needs the arts more than lots of other cities.
Jonathan Pearson: Cork needs the arts more than lots of other cities.

Cork needs the arts more than lots of other cities. I'm sure many cities of similar size claim to be based on culture, but with Cork it is as clear as day to see. When we couldn't go to concerts and theatres, we got our best designers to design our building facades in new ways, when we couldn't be inside to dine, we suddenly became very cosmopolitan, and our artists continued to bring music to us throughout. Hopefully we take the very small positives that 2020 gave us and cling to them.

Les Salamandas: We need to learn to enjoy music and arts differently.
Les Salamandas: We need to learn to enjoy music and arts differently.

We need to learn to enjoy music and arts differently. It might take a while to go back to gigs as we used to know them. But at least we have technology on our side and venues all over the country are making it possible. A combination of adapting our plan and patience is our current work system. Patience is something that we can’t really avoid at the moment, unless we want to storm the venues of Ireland and invite all the anti-maskers, gigs aren’t going to look like they used to for a while, and we have to just accept it and hope that they one day will.

JULIA PAWLAK (Red Sun Alert) 

Just take every day in, one at a time. Self-care is more important than ever now.

DYLAN WALSH (Red Sun Alert) 

You have to realise as well, that it's not uncommon to feel dissuaded, or uninspired. Even though we're feeling like this, we can keep going.

CIAN MULLANE (God Alone/Red Sun Alert) 

Don't put too much effort on yourself to be productive in these times, it's hard enough being productive when you can actually go outside and it's especially hard now, so you shouldn't feel bad for just existing.

JULIE LANDERS (staff writer, UCC Express) 

I hope we can all move forward with more compassion for ourselves, and that we slow down more often.

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