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Musicians Sing Pandemic Blues

By Edgard Cruz

For Victor Gomez and many musicians like him the lockdown has stunted their urge for creative expression. Gomez plays bass in the Red Hunting Cap, a band name inspired by the color of Holden Caulfield’s cap in The Catcher in the Rye. Gomez produces his own music under his own name as well. During the pandemic, he hasn’t had so much opportunity to do either. “Uninspired, man,” he says. “I don’t feel…I don’t feel much of any inspiration anymore.” He said that, in spite of his introverted nature, he does “miss social anxiety, somehow.”

Gomez finds the monotony of Covid-10 days uninspiring. “There’s always tomorrow and tomorrow looks just like today,” Gomez said as he shuffled around in his seat, describing the process of sitting down and trying to record an idea that’s been floating around in his head, but ultimately deciding that procrastination is a route he’d rather take.

Freed from commutes and social activities, one might think artists would spend this extra time being creative and developing ideas. Gomez says pandemic down time is different. In a band, he says, you have a group of people who all share the same common goal of making music together. In his own band, Gomez has played an integral role in the band’s songwriting since the release of their 2017 Big Belly Boys extended play (EP).

Since then, he has released two more EPs with the band, as well as two singles within the past two years. However, since the start of the initial lockdown, the band has seldom met to rehearse and its productivity has consequently reached a standstill. With no consistent creative outlet, Gomez says he feels as if he is at a loss for musical expression, even with the music he creates for himself. Some of the simple things in life like commuting were the things that brought out his musicianship, he says. On his way to and from work, school, events, he would listen to new music that would do much to recharge his creative battery. But with nowhere to go, he finds his tank to be empty a lot of the time and, in turn, feels uninspired to create.

Essentially, says Gomez, he lacks energy and motivation to do anything because he’s not doing anything. He’s not alone, either. His band is just one of many NYC-indie bands whose progress has been hindered by the fact that they have been unable to play music in traditional venues, which can provide exposure and energize them. As of March 2021, there have been a multitude of live music venues that have been shut down as a result of the pandemic. Moreover, many rehearsal spaces such as Shelter Studios and Champion Studios are shutting down due to the limitations imposed by Covid-19 restrictions. As a result, musicians are unable to congregate and foster new creative ideas together.

For now, Gomez falls back on his established work to remind himself that the well won’t always be dry. He periodically listens to the backlog of ideas he has accumulated over the years in hopes of one day feeling inspired enough to finish them. Not all is lost, however. With the Red Hunting Cap, Gomez and his bandmates have a batch of songs ready for release that were recorded before the initial lockdown began. He looks forward to hearing how the songs are received by the local music scene and hopes that he and his bandmates will meet with each other someday soon. Until then, he patiently waits for the country to return to some sense of normalcy.

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