Covid-19 is in full swing, and a lot is going on in the world right now. Many still can’t comprehend it all. I just got back to the states from Europe yesterday after my entire DJ tour got canceled before it even actually began- I know many others can relate to some degree. And while some plan to lose more than others, this isn’t the time for comparisons; we’re all faced with the same harsh reality; significant income losses. This whole ordeal comes at an interesting time for me not only because I DJ and work in a gig-based economy, but also because I just left my full-time, decent pay, full benefits job just last month. The timing of my departure from the corporate world felt right regardless of losing my benefits and the guaranteed income; I worked hard to get to the point where I could sustain myself off music and was beyond excited to embark on the chapter. Sitting here today with the future of my DJ career unknown, I can’t say I now regret my decision to leave my job. In the weeks following my departure, the creative juices were flowing, and it felt amazing to live life on my terms only. Its day 1 of my quarantine since arriving back in the states. To say the least, my mind is racing.
What’s crazy about dealing with these worldwide emergencies in the modern day is that we are all still very much connected thanks to things like the internet, social media, and television. And while one would think our access to these resources would bring us together, it tears us apart in many cases. Over the past few days, I’ve witnessed some cruel reactions to those asking for financial assistance. I understand tensions are high right now, but it’s genuinely disappointing to read some people’s responses to those in fear or need. The way I see it; if you want to donate to a cause and its something you believe in, go ahead and do it. If its something you do not see fit to contribute to, don’t, and move on. Enough with the call-out culture and hot takes. Some of the behavior on these platforms is just as toxic as the damn virus itself. Why spread more negativity when we can offer support and understanding in a time of panic and confusion? It seems as if folks sit around and wait for the right moment to shame people, and when the opportunity strikes, all hell breaks loose. I even fell victim to contributing to the negativity online and had to stop and check myself; so many of us are acting off emotion whether than logic, and that’s one of the problems. It’s also eye-opening, yet not surprising, to see how people start acting when it comes to money matters.
I don’t know about every DJ out there, but I’ve never seen anything wrong with deejaying while also holding down a full or part-time job; many of us do it. What’s tricky, though, is being able to maintain the two successfully. From my personal experience, working full-time and deejaying was excellent in financial security, but it also meant that I was forced to turn down specific opportunities. It was also too exhausting at times. Most jobs won’t let you take time off to complete a DJ tour outside of the country, which is important when you are trying to get a global reach. It can also put a major strain on your ability to create as working full time in America takes up so much time and energy- usually, when I got home from work, I was drained mentally and physically and far from inspired. I say all of this to explain that it’s not always so simple to “get a job” or “keep a job” while also pursuing a full-time DJ career. I don’t think me leaving my job was irresponsible in the least bit, and I don’t believe that others in this same position are either.
On the contrary, I think that many are eager to jump into this life full time without a real back-up plan in the current day. That’s what many need to focus on right now. I hope that this 14 day or more quarantine will give us time to brainstorm just that.
Through all of this, I know many have been told to “stay strong,” which is right, we have to. But don’t be afraid to cry or even be a little angry; we need not ignore these emotions; addressing them has helped me keep my sanity. The past few days, I was so focused on “staying safe” and “being strong” that I hadn’t had time to address the sorrow I felt truly. No one has the right to question your hurt or struggle. Our passions, livelihoods, and futures are all in jeopardy right now; its okay to be worried about that. I do not suggest dwelling, but sometimes you gotta get through the hurt and crying phase to get to the action phase plan. It felt the most real for me yesterday as I got back to my apartment with all of my luggage in tow from what was supposed to be a 1-month tour in Europe. As I dragged my luggage and record bag up the sidewalk towards my building, the tears started to flow freely- it was a sobering moment I’m sure I won’t forget. My world isn’t over by any means, but after planning my last day at work with this tour in mind, and all that I had to look forward to in the months after no longer happening sucks. Nonetheless, now that I’m home and attempting to re-settle, I’ve been focused on what’s next. While there are plenty of high profile and highly paid DJ’s that can sit back and quarantine for even a few years easily if necessary, the reality for many of us isn’t as such.
I’ve seen the word “entitlement” thrown around a lot lately, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I too appear to be some entitled touring DJ crying about losing gigs and canceled travel? The reality, though, is that this situation is so much deeper than canceled gigs or flights; people are worried about their finances for the most part. That’s how real it is out here; some can’t afford to put all of their focus on health and safety right now because they could potentially be homeless in a month or two- its a scary thing to acknowledge. Rent, food, car payments, etc. unfortunately don’t get canceled, so yes, people are stressing. While most, including myself, plan to take care of ourselves and use what resources we have to get by for the next few months, we don’t know everyone’s situation; some are worse off than others. Let’s not judge and act as someone can find another job overnight. Who’s to say right now is even a good time for someone to find a job? With all the club, bar, school, and business closures, it might be a while before companies start hosting interviews again- we truly have no way of knowing right now. Stop the judging, stop the shit-talking, and think about something positive you can bring to this dark situation.
Speaking of positive, amid the madness, we thankfully have also witnessed solidarity and community-focused ideas brewing, that is precisely what we need more of; positivity and creativity. Many clubs and DJ’s have already started putting together live DJ streams from home or empty clubs, giving viewers the option to donate if they wish. Mix series are being created, producers are jumping back into the studio, and many are putting up merchandise for sale to collect funds to stay afloat as we sit in limbo.
All of that said, not all is lost yet. If you have anxiety about rent, don’t be afraid to reach out to your landlord to see if there’s anything you can work out; you never know, people might be willing to be a little more generous given the state of things. I plan not to give up, and I hope those reading this do not either. If you need to take a break from social media, DO IT. Social media causes so much unnecessary stress and anxiety that the only way to avoid it sometimes truly is to log off. Read a book, do some yoga, write in your journal, record a mix, talk of the phone, etc. We still have plenty of options for creativity within our own homes’ courtesy- let us not forget that. And while we all may be physically quarantined with no clubs, large gatherings, or festivals, the music remains. Music can never be contained, and for that, I smile.
Take care of yourselves out there.