How to Stay Creative While in Quarantine According to These Homegrown Musicians
If Week 3 of community quarantine has left you on a creative slump, don’t fret. There are others who, like you, go through the same artist block during this stuck-at-home phase. And hey, it’s totally normal!
It could be hard to find the inspiration you need to get crafty and focus on your art or that project you've been putting off for so long. But it doesn’t mean you can’t—because, honestly, there’s no better time to hone your skill and get started than now. With all the time in your hands, it’s a shame to put those precious hours to waste. Why not start something?
The first thing you need to do is actually pretty simple: Show up. Look for the strength within you and get out of your bed—then get those juices flowing. Staying creative during these times are challenging, sure, so we seeked help from some of your favorite musicians to help you become more productive while staying indoors. Take inspiration from these artists and get out of that downhill sitch, now!
Hop on the challenge
It’s easy to get discouraged especially if you’re overwhelmed and picking up where to start is confusing. But instead of succumbing to unease, use it as your motivation. Over October’s frontman Josh Buizon encourages you to step up and face those creative roadblocks. “I think that’s one way that a person can stay creative—by continuing to grow and face new challenges. If you choose to stay in your comfort zone, then your creativity will also remain in that zone. Open up yourself to new opportunities, widen your pool of information, and allow yourself not to stay stuck doing the same thing over and over again,” he says.
For indie-folk band Munimuni’s Josh Tumaliuan and Jolo Ferrer, they challenge you to explore. “Listen to old and new works. Get out of your comfort zone,” the drummer nudges, while the bassist’s advice is to, “Listen and study other artists and their art. Play around with ideas.” And playing around with ideas is just what Adj Jiao suggests. “Mag-experiment ng iba’t ibang luto gamit kung ano lang ang available ingredients! Similarly, sa music, hindi lahat ng avenue available. So work with what you have.”
Explore the world (wide web)
“After the first week of lockdown, I kept seeing tweets like, ‘Kating-kati na ko mag gig,’ or, ‘Nakakamiss pumunta sa [gig venue],” The Ridleys’ Benny Manaligod shares. So he, along with a bunch of friends, thought of a way to bring the live music experience without fans leaving the comforts of their rooms. They started Gig From Home Productions and invited musicians to do livestream performances on certain days of the week. This kept the community—including gig-goers, artists, gig venues, and other music groups—alive, albeit virtual.
“By trying to replicate online the things we miss doing in real life, we got to play a part in bringing the music scene to a wider audience, and keeping it active despite the quarantine,” Benny adds.
"Spaces" singer Martti Franca gives this a nod, explaining how the quarantine has forced a lot of artists to tap into their creativity and make use of technology. “No physical gigs? Time to explore live streaming! I put up my own show called Midnights with Martti as a way to interact with listeners. Can’t go to a recording studio? With the plethora of software available, anyone’s bedroom can turn into a studio. Or maybe you could save up a bunch of recordings on your voice memo, so when the quarantine is lifted, you have so many songs to work on,” he suggests.
Put it in paper
Speaking of songs to work on, Martti also encourages people to jot down notes. What he does is exchange a prompt with a friend every week and present it to each other. This move pushes one to actually come up with an output—an accountability partner helps!
Meanwhile, Leanne & Naara’s Leanne Mamonong easily derives ideas when she’s constantly moving. Finding something new to do everyday helps feed her creativity. “I try to write as much as I can. When I’m not writing, I watch a movie or pick up a book to read,” she imparts.
It’s the same for Oh, Flamingo!’s vocalist Howard Luistro. “During the quarantine, we'll be spending time with the same people everyday or just by ourselves, so writing things down will help you be more in touch with what's going on in your mind,” the "Four Corners" songwriter shares. So yes, it’s time to dust off that notebook you’ve kept in the shelves and journal your thoughts away!
Research and develop
They say practice makes perfect, and this statement is cliche for a reason—it works. But sometimes, picking up your arsenal is the hardest part. How to remedy this? Howard tells a tip: “I make it a point to place my instruments in spots where I can always see them and they're easy to reach at any point in time. This self-trickery sort of encourages myself to play an instrument at idle moments. Most of the time, the first step is to really just hold the damn thing.”
Also, repetition lets you see how you do your art differently each time you sit down on it. “I like spending a lot of time with just one thing on repeat,” he says. “That's usually how I learn about a certain thing's nuances more, which eventually serve as inspiration or a starting point to create.”
Munimuni’s flutist Owen Castro banks on three things to stay creative these days: Practice, art consumption, and research. Practice enables you to assess your skill level, allowing you to learn more not just about your art, but also about yourself. In consuming art and doing research, do so with an open mind—listen to a lot of music, watch different kinds of film, read literature by different authors, watch different types of theatre shows online, watch ballets, and appreciate the visual arts, he advises.“Diversity of knowledge in art gives you more ideas in making your art yours, and it won’t harm us to learn more about art.” Owen adds.
Take note of time
April Hernandez, A.K.A. TheSunManager, relies on proper time management. “I set aside scheduled time (i.e. writing at 3pm, guitar at 5pm, etc.) dedicated to creating, learning, and practicing. Making a routine will keep you from getting lazy and doing something else. This greatly helps establish goals set for the day and you will be able to monitor your progress closely,” she tells Chalk.
TJ de Ocampo of Munimuni agrees, stating that making it a habit is key. “Once you get past starting (which is, like, the hardest part), everything—usually—falls into place,” he says.
But as important as time to work is, he’s also keen on cutting yourself some slack. “Don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Being too strict is also kind of counterproductive because it could be discouraging,” he adds. “You don’t have to finish everything in one day. Take a break!”
Ysa Ferraz of sibling duo Ysanygo leans on her younger brother, Ygo, for inspiration. “What helps me stay creative during these times is listening to my brother's jams. It's hard dealing with the uncertainty of the situation but I feel a sense of security when I see him creating—and that makes me want to create, too,” the 23-year-old relates.
While learning K-pop songs and studying a free course online on the Science of Well-Being, for Leanne & Naara’s other half, Naara Acueza, sharing the gift of music with the little ones in their family lifts her up during this time. “I teach my nieces some songs to sing. We actually jam and do mashups of Nursery Rhymes. It feels good to see them learning through music.”
Photographs by Nukie Timtiman (Munimuni), Fumi Paderes (Benny Manaligod), Margaret Casiano (Martti Franca), Belle Dinglasa (Leanne & Naara), and Jeremy Caisip (TheSunManager)