Ellis – COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Friday, April 3rd, 2020  

Ellis – COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In

“For an artist like me, touring is the number one most important way to promote a record, and it is completely devastating that I won’t be able to do that.”

Apr 03, 2020 Photography by Linnea Siggelkow
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We are checking in with musicians during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to see how they are dealing with everything. What has their home quarantine experience been like so far and how is the crisis impacting both their career and art? Here we check in with Ellis (aka Hamilton, Ontario dream pop artist Linnea Siggelkow).

We’re living in future history right now, unprecedented times that will define our era. At some point we will be living in a forever-changed post-COVID-19 timeline, but right now we’re deep in it. Many have had their livelihood interrupted by the pandemic and included are most musicians, who make a lot of their money by touring and performing, two things they can’t do right now. Most record stores are closed and vinyl factories are shut down, so album sales are depressed too. Our intention with this series is to highlight the challenges musicians are going through right now to hopefully encourage our readers and their fans to rally around and support each musician (financially if you can, but we know it’s tough out there for many people).

We’re all in this together, a whole planet united in this fight, and we hope these interviews will help illustrate that. We put together the same set of questions about the current crisis and emailed them to several musicians and will be posting their responses as they come in.

Ellis has released her debut album, Born Again, today via Fat Possum, so the timing of all this is particularly bad for her.

Jake Aron (Snail Mail, Solange, Grizzly Bear) produced the album, which was partly recorded at his Brooklyn studio. Born Again follows Ellis’s debut EP The Fuzz, which she self-produced and self-released in 2018.

As Born Again’s title suggests, the album partly deals with questions of faith. Siggelkow is the daughter of a traveling book salesman and a piano teacher. “I grew up Christian and was quite devoted to faith up through my late teens, but I started challenging that once I got to university,” said Siggelkow in a previous press release announcing the album. “Since then I’ve been trying to redefine who I am and where I stand and what I think about these things on my own, and that journey very much played into the songwriting on this record.” 

Read on as Ellis reflects on her COVID-19 experience so far. She has also submitted photos of her quarantine life.

What’s your daily routine been like? Have you spent much time outdoors? And since musicians spend so much time on the road, have you found it hard adjusting to so much time at home?

Linnea Siggelkow: I have been trying really hard to keep busy and stay productive. I’m not very good at chilling, I can’t sit still for very long without starting to spiral and I only ever nap when I’m depressed. I’ve been finding a lot of comfort in certain rituals, like my morning coffee and afternoon walks. I’ve been doing a lot of baking which makes me feel good. Also video chatting with friends—staying connected has been so important for me.

What financial impact has COVID-19 had on you and your band? Have you had to cancel or postpone any tours or festival appearances or postpone an album release because of COVID-19 and how will that affect you in the long term?

My record is coming out in the middle of all of this, and my entire tour associated with it was cancelled. For an artist like me, touring is the number one most important way to promote a record, and it is completely devastating that I won’t be able to do that. I have worked really hard on this album, I have poured my whole self into it and spent the last few months sort of anxiously waiting and preparing for this moment, and now it feels like, in a flash, it has all been taken away from me. I’m worried that this release will get lost in the shuffle, and I’m terrified that this will be extremely detrimental to the trajectory of my career this early on. There is never a good time for something like this to happen, but for me the timing could not have possibly been worse.

How do you think the crisis will affect this November’s U.S. presidential election? Will it make it easier or harder to defeat Trump? 

I’m hanging onto the hope that this whole situation will point us towards socialism. The need has become obvious, and I have been inspired seeing how communities have come together for the common good. I also am feeling strangely connected to humanity right now. Globally, we are all going through this shared experience and navigating the complexities of it. I hope we come out of it with more empathy and an urgency that we must take care of one another. 

Which albums, songs, films, TV shows, books, podcasts, live streams, video games, board games, etc, have been helping you get through the quarantine?

I’ve been listening to the new Waxahatchee record, Saint Cloud, all weekend. I just finished reading A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews, which was really beautiful. I of course barreled through Tiger King and The Pharmacist on Netflix. I’ve just decided to start Breaking Bad from the beginning.

Have you been doing any live-streamed concerts during COVID-19 or do you plan to? A lot of artists have been doing them, do you think it’s a challenge to make them original and interesting?

I’ve got a bunch of live streams and videos coming in the next little bit. To be honest, that stuff really freaks me out! I don’t like performing solo and I don’t like being on camera, so it’s a pretty bad combination for me, but it’s a good excuse to push me out of my comfort zone and get more confident in performing in other capacities. I’m grateful for the opportunities to connect with people and share these songs however I’m able to right now.

Is there something you’ve been putting off for a long time, but are now doing with this time at home?

I’ve been practicing guitar every day, which is something I always wanted to do but never felt like I had the time. I am a very average guitar player and I want to learn to shred. I’ve been trying to improve my technique and get my fingers stronger by practicing scales to a metronome and watching tutorials online. I can already notice an improvement!

Has the quarantine been a fertile creative time (are you writing or recording new music, for example) or have you found it hard to focus on creative endeavors?

I would so love to take this opportunity to start writing the next record but I’m feeling so completely uninspired creatively. I’m also imagining all the songs that will come out of this about living in isolation. What else are we supposed to write about? But I’m already sick of talking about it, I don’t want to be focusing on it for longer than I have to.

www.ellis-songs.com

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