FilmInstitute23rd May 2020Following a three part mini-series curated by the Abbey Road team (Dom Dronska, Claire Renfrew and Karim Fanous) exploring mental health and wellbeing in lockdown, we wanted to expand upon this to see how our artist friends have been coping in quarantine.
The first in a series titled Reel Feelings is singer-songwriter Cloves. The Australian-born, London-based singer-songwriter has been working on her next project at Abbey Road, recording vocals in our Gatehouse studio earlier this year before lockdown. We checked in with Cloves to see hows she's adjusted to life in lockdown and her advice to anyone who is struggling right now.
How have you been feeling, really?On a personal level I’ve been feeling really conflicted. I’m stressed I should be doing more and being more productive. Usually I mentally feel at my best when I’m working, I think that's where I get the majority of my self esteem, so in turn how productive my work is reflects how I feel about myself. That’s been tough. I’ve been making music at home, working on visual ideas, doing workouts, trying to use the time to soak in music and films, things to keep inspired and feel like I’m using my time well and expressing myself. So half of me is motivated and making the effort to stay afloat, while the other half is feeling really down and anxious that it’s not enough.
How are you adjusting, how did your life change, and how did you change?Well I’ve been in Australia for the last two months now. I had to leave my flat in London due to border closures which affected my visa, it’s a long story…. So I’ve been here for the last two months staying with my sister. It’s been lovely seeing her and being around, though I do really miss my own flat and my dog in London. I’m sort of feeling like I’m on some weird forced break outside of my own environment and a bit “who am i anymore”. Though I’m well aware there are people everywhere in much worse positions than me.
Where is your ‘inspiration hotspot’ i.e. where do you have the space to think and be creative? What inspires you creatively now (is it different to your usual sources of inspiration)?I’ve set myself up a little studio situation in my room. I’m just working on Garage Band right now, I find it quicker to get song ideas out then the more extensive software (it helps as I’m not sat there for like six hours listening through reverbs). It’s been creating little vibes of songs over perfecting sounds. I guess what inspires me the most is what I wanna feel and the textures and tones it takes to create that. I think I have a pretty clear understanding of where I wanna go after this next record comes out so I’ve started cultivating my base level textural ideas and references for that, and just singing alone by myself…..
What do you wish you had known before lockdown?
To be honest, I don’t even know how to answer that! I guess that it's going to be very long. I think for me the hardest part about lockdown has been the uncertainty and lack of answers. I think it would have been easier if at the start it was like okay you’ve got two months sat at home etc, then at least you have a goal and something to mentally set your mind on, but I think as everything has been so up in the air it makes it difficult to stay positive and motivated. So I probably would have told myself keep your expectations very low, this is a long haul.
What three things would you advise to anyone who is struggling right now?Well the best advice I can offer (something I’m myself constantly trying to stay on top of, and at times failing at) is give yourself a break! This isn’t a summer holiday - this is a pandemic, a health crisis and history! If you are feeling like you should be doing more, being more and putting all this pressure on yourself, try and remember the reality of the situation. If you feel unmotivated it's probably fair to be. If you don’t feel like working out, it’s fine just try again tomorrow. If you want to bake your own bread, I don’t understand why you need to, but go ahead. Try and take it each day at a time and not overwhelm yourself with mad expectations. I think remembering that there really is no right way to do this is important.
On a side note, I just want to say a huge thank you to all the health care and essential workers for everything they have done and risked during this trying time.
Stay safe <3