When the Coronavirus shut us down, clubs and festivals ceased, and everyone was essentially forced inside with no definitive end in sight, DJ Times wondered: How is our tribe coping? How are DJs getting by?
So, we sent out our “Coronavirus Questionnaire” to DJ/producers from all musical genres to find out. During this period, DJ Times will continue presenting the questionnaire responses from talented music-makers from all over the world. Here’s our latest entry, this time from the U.K., the Leicester, England-based electronic talent Zak Joshua.
What’s it like where you’re living? I’ve been living in the middle of the city of Leicester, England, throughout the entirety of lockdown. As you might be aware, Leicester has stayed locked down even when other areas of the U.K. saw a relaxing of restrictions, except for a few weeks in August and November last year. So, we’ve not really had a reprieve at all in this area, and as you can imagine, many of the local residents are beginning to go a bit loopy!
How are you spending most of your time? It’s been just over a year now and I’ve noticed that my activities have become cyclical. I will go through periods of intense productivity where I will get a lot of constructive work done, writing new music, getting finished tracks over the line and working on plans for when normality is resumed. On the other hand, lockdown has given me the ability to take large swathes of time off for recuperation and enjoyment, where I get absolutely nothing done – and I have to say that I have enjoyed having that time. I have rediscovered my love of gaming, something that I have not done since I was in school, and got ’round to watching TV shows that I’ve never had the chance to watch. I feel that it’s important to find balance at times like this.
Have you lost important gigs, or income-producing work? I have lost over 50-percent of my usual income in the last year, mainly from DJ gigs, which I was doing at least once a week previously. I have also lost a lot of audio production work for other artists, from recording in the studio to mixing and mastering, although the latter has picked up a bit in recent months. Having said that, I’m very lucky to also have a salaried job as part of the management team for a local recording studio and artist management company, and that has seen me through the pandemic so far without too much stress on my finances, which is a situation many professional musicians don’t find themselves in, unfortunately.
Are you doing anything now that can or will produce music-related income? I have been working on as much new material as I can, which has resulted in me having the rest of this year’s releases locked in. It’s a great position to be in, and allows me to plan ahead for 2022, when I think some level of normality will begin to return. I’m also lucky enough to be signed with a great publishing company, which has been very active in finding new avenues to get my music heard – and earn some money in the process – which is beginning to bear fruit now.
What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? Any recent releases? My latest single is “Drip” with Maniscooler. Another recent release is “Closer” feature Morgan Monroe. I’ve been working on a lot of new material, but one of the good things about this time is that it has released the pressure a bit, and the extra time has allowed me to experiment with new ideas, new ways of working, and complete some of the more tiresome admin-type jobs that I quite frankly would never have bothered doing.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing? I think we all didn’t quite realize just how much we take our freedom for granted. Things that we considered mundane, like heading ’round to the shops, have at times been almost something to look forward to! I’ve also been pleasantly surprised that I have managed to keep my appearance semi-respectable despite my barber being closed for 90-percent of the year.
Have you considered doing anything online? I attempted a couple during the early days of the pandemic, but gave up after trouble with copyright takedowns. It’s a shame that the social-media companies couldn’t do more on that front to let lesser-known DJs find a place on that platform. At the end of the summer, I took part in a great online festival to raise money for charity, organized by a friend in remembrance of a local DJ who had sadly passed away recently. It’s stuff like that really keeps the spirits up for people, I think.
Any theme tunes recommended for the moment? At the height of “The Great Toilet Roll Shortage” of March 2020, just after the beginning of lockdown, I decided – against my better judgement – to attempt a skirmish to my local Tesco to stock up on essentials. I’m sure that I don’t need to describe the carnage that I witnessed that day. As I surveyed the battlefield to find a parking spot, my phone served up “Panic” by The Smiths on a shuffled playlist. There could not have been a more perfect description of that which lay before me: “Panic on the streets of Carlisle…”
Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation? It may seem counterintuitive – and somewhat boring from a DJ – but my advice during any time of hardship is to completely stay away from drink and drugs. I’m not a teetotaler by any means, but I find that drinking without a reason to celebrate is a recipe for disaster.
To check out more Life in Lockdown interviews, click here.
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