Being a Musician in Lockdown by Dima Zouchinski, April 2021
Unfortunately gigging was not an option for over a year as of Mid-March 2020. I was keeping occupied musically to this very day the best I could. I still post YouTube drafts of cover medleys and original songs but more often than usual. A lot of bands performed digitally as well during the lockdown period. There were artists who would covering songs that the public wouldn’t expect such as Bon Jovi covering a Black-Eyed Peas song called ‘I Got A Feeling’. A lot of concert events I did do were all either on Zoom or I filmed my set on a camera and WeTransfered the files to the events.
I have learned to keep occupied at home whilst being in isolation a few times. I make drawings once a month. I had cover medleys in mind that I would practice before recording. I saw a video featuring Brian May with other guitarists when they covered ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen instrumentally. I have seen another video where Spin Doctors played their famous tunes ‘Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong’ and ‘Two Princes’ with separate cameras. I am happy that the singer holds his voice well to this very day. My Acquaintance Will Buchanan aka Bill Rutherford had a fortnight routine of doing live stream videos where he plays original songs and a few covers. I know him from the Tunbridge Wells open mic nights I used to do at The Duke Of York and The Beau Nash.
I have kept occupied making my debut album in lockdown. I would record my bass, guitar and vocals under a metronome and I would send the stems to Gareth (from Carousel) to be looked at. I was lucky to book a few studio sessions to get drums down on some of my songs for the album set list. When I was in Brighton Electric recording songs like ‘Business’ and ‘Land of Zombies’ from scratch, the place did feel relatively empty in August. Usually, I see plenty of familiar faces there.
I am glad I met James Bracey the drummer at BIMM. He was a student on my year, we rehearsed with each other before when it came to Performance in Context in BA2. For the album, I also asked him to drum for my songs like ‘Sketchy’, ‘Yellow Vest Protest’ and ‘Poser’. Before going on to the recording process, I would arrange a rehearsal at Small Pond to show James how I play my songs so he could get an idea of what to play. I recorded ‘Sketchy’, ‘Poser’ and ‘Yellow Vest Protest’ at South Lane Studios in October last year.
For ‘Forget About It’ and ‘Heatwave Days’, Gareth asked his friend Gillan Edgar to track drums on them. At first Gareth via Skype showed me how Gillan covered ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears on YouTube. I only seen him digitally myself. Gillan would send me drafts of how he played to my songs at first and afterwards I sent him feedback which was only to cut back on the drums. I once sent him a voice recording of how James Bracey played ‘Forget About It’ so he could get the idea himself of the bass drum pattern in the first verse.
The recording process of my album took six months from May last year until November. I would give Gareth my feedback of how a song should sound whilst I sent him my stems. The comments would be ‘more reverb on vocals’, ‘guitars being locked in with the drums’ and ‘have one vocal voice on the actual track as 2 vocals singing the same melody will be clashy’.
At the end of the drum tracking and mixing process, I would ask another guy I know from BIMM who was on the Music Production course on my year to Master the songs on the album.
Music Video Process
Towards my album, in Late-October 2020 I agreed to meet Gareth to make a music video for my song ‘Poser’. I went to Brighton to one of his offices where he worked in Queens Road. I respected the idea that he had of me mouthing the lyrics to the song, wearing a cap and sunglasses, pretending to play plugged into a wall of amps and the crowd filter on the green screen. He drew out his plan before-hand and explained his ideas of what’s going to happen and when during the day.
The song I have written in late-2018 was self-ironic about wanting to be a rock star. The music video was released at the end of November which is available on my channel. The video had 3 positive comments, over 200 views and counting and 15 likes.
I do miss gigging and meeting up with friends. I had dreams where I would play a concert in Dover last minute and a lady with a pram would give the Carousel staff her compliments about me. I also had a dream where I would go to a Foo Fighters concert at the O2 Arena only to evacuate shortly after. I would dream about Robbie Williams riding on a tandem bike with my mate in Tunbridge Wells and I would cycle ahead.
Overall, I still write musical ideas and practice and develop them. I had time to track tempos to my original songs for my potential future albums. My mate from Chislehurst has agreed to play bass in my band for the future so I am hoping that will work out later on. I show my Facebook friends my Spotify profile because I want to increase my monthly listeners and I have found out that Spotify counts streams after the 1,000 mark.
Before lockdown, there were plans for me to play gigs outside of Brighton like Gloucestershire, Hastings, Croydon and Jersey. Before I released my album, I had ideas of which artists I want to have as support acts for my album launch concert. The ones I had in mind were Sam Anderson who I know from The West Hill Tavern where I would also play solo acoustic sets every now and then when Jack Prizant had a date for me. I have managed to learn a few of his songs over the lockdown period such as ‘I’m Laying Low’ and ‘Every Day and Every Night’ and I posted them on YouTube if anyone wants to check them out. The other support act I had in mind was a band called Planet For Sale which I know from doing various open mics nights around the Brighton area. I always enjoyed listening to their releases on Spotify. I once watched their documentary on YouTube. I thought how they answered questions was great but the sound quality needed work when the band members would laugh for example.
Dima's album, ‘Aye! Ain’t Mellow’ was released on FairGround Records 21 December 2020 http://fairground.bandcamp.com/
FairGround Records is a division of Carousel, a learning-disability led arts charity working in music, film, digital art and training. All its work is planned and managed by the artists themselves, providing access to the arts for performers and audiences. http://carousel.org.uk