To put it lightly, the past couple months have been a trying time for everybody. From the mania of quarantine to the civil and political unrest to the pandemic itself, we’re all on edge. Some more than others. Some people’s lives have been put on hold, while others work excessive overtime trying to keep up and provide the services we all depend on.
We’re all trying to cope in our own ways and I will happily admit that I’ve struggled to find my own path through it all. There is so much information and every day seems so full, it’s as if one quarantine day is really a week of pre-quarantine time. If you felt any doubt when you read that last line, consider this: Kobe Bryant died this year. Go ahead, look it up. I’ll wait.
That’s insane, right? How did that happen in the same year as any of this? How was that not two years ago?
Thankfully, there’s music to help us all get through. Whether you are the type to fully lean into music as a source of sustenance akin to food or if you just like having it on for background noise, music is a powerful force.
It’s been incredible to witness all of the musicians’ responses to quarantine and social distancing. Even as their livelihoods were plucked away month by month, many producers pivoted from bringing people together in a physical space to hosting gatherings in a virtual one. I’ve loved seeing sets played from people’s kitchens, bathrooms, by their pool, inside and out.
Producers are responsible for all of the sounds on the records they make, whether it be sampled or a recording of them playing piano, they are largely the source of their music. But if they happen to not sing, then they still have all of the vocal tracks that they’ve recorded over the years. And since they’re at home, they have everything they need to play a set. It’s not like a four-piece band where they’d need to play at once and somehow compensate for the disparate lag times in their feeds, then mix them together and broadcast that to the world.
I thought it would be nice to highlight some of the people who continue to bring light to a dark world and who’ve also raised a lot of money for frontline workers and service industry employees. So without further ado, here are my Heroes of the Quarantine:
The duo, holed up together with a couple members of their team at their home in Miami (I think? Maybe it’s LA), are on their 65th straight day of livestreaming. Yes, you read that right. They’ve DJ’d, shredded on guitar, sang, and danced for their fans for SIXTY FIVE days in a row. They clearly recognize the need and they’ve been absolute rock stars bringing their A game each and every day at 1 PM ET.
Sofi Tukker also released a new track with Gorgon City aptly titled, “House Arrest,” a house banger worth adding to your Quarantine Dance Trax playlist, or whatever you have going.
So many live sets. Everybody in the crew has been taking their turn at the helm, pushing out their love and playful energy into the ether. At a time where they’re typically busy as hell, hosting a pair of their biggest events, Desert Hearts Festival and City Hearts, they’ve refocused that energy into their livestreams.
They’ve also been working on a lot of collaborations, remixes, and new material, which you can catch previews of on their Twitch feed pretty much daily.
This company has a wealth of resources to dedicate to livestreams, and being an online music and streaming platform, they’re uniquely positioned to take advantage of the uptick in music discovery and purchasing. But that’s not where they’ve been focused.
Beatport was able to pull off an impressive streaming festival relatively quickly, hosting their first Global ReConnect Festival, featuring 36 straight hours of live music from some very impressive names. Claude VonStroke, Bob Moses, Nastia, and Claptone all put together fantastic sets, helping to raise over $100,000 for the AFEM COVID-19 Hardship Fund to benefit at-risk workers, and the WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
If you didn’t hear about the festival in time, you can still see many of the sets on Beatport’s YouTube channel (link). They’re also worth a follow on Twitch, as they have a seemingly constant feed going.
Gabriel & Dresden
It may read as the Gabriel & Dresden station on Twitch, but it’s been only Dave Dresden playing on the feed itself. In his 3-4 per week appearances, he plays through a vast catalog of the group’s music, many of their fellow Anjuna family’s tunes, and quite a few blasts from the past.
Dresden’s feed shows his Pioneer console set up in a smallish room with an occasional blinking LED light to accompany him. His daughter Charlotte often makes appearances on the stream, dancing along to the music, changing from one animal onesie to another, as she rearranges the menagerie of her stuffed animals that decorate the desk. Watching the two of them dance brings much needed warmth to my heart and my life.Watch Gabriel & Dresden, Club Quarantine. Dave Dresden Plays a deep set (part 1) from gabrielanddresden on www.twitch.tv
The sets vary in length, but usually wind up in the 3-5 hour range. I believe the longest set he’s played (so far) clocked in a whopping 12 hours. Dave Dresden is a trooper.
Like many service-oriented businesses, COVID-19 has really kicked Insomniac right in the pants. But rather than pout or batten down the hatches, they’ve worked to continue providing experiences for their fans and festival attendees.
They’ve created a livestream event for many of their major festivals, including Middle Lands, Dreamstate, Escape Halloween, and Beyond Wonderland. While they’ve hosted their events in a single, central facility (rather than at each producer’s home/studio), they demonstrated social distancing any time more than a single person was on-screen. Everybody wore masks at the appropriate times, and they even employed a dedicated console disinfectant consultant who would spray down the decks between each performance.
I hope these resources help you get through this, whatever that means to you, wherever you are in the world. Stay safe, everybody!
I work, live and play in Minneapolis.
I try to tell the story of the people that create music and experiences through pictures as well as through words.