The pandemic has disrupted everyone’s lives in one way or another, and Utah’s local music scene hasn’t been exempt. During this trying time, artists have found ways to adapt. Learn how these musicians became innovative despite the challenges and unpredictability brought by COVID-19.
Tyler Teerlink, a junior studying music and the brains behind Le Dad, said the pandemic has given him the opportunity to focus on music. He describes Le Dad as R&B and finds inspiration from artists like Bill Withers and Tom Misch.
Teerlink was in a band throughout the years. Two years ago, he went solo and went by Le Dad. Over time, he realized playing alone on stage had its limits. Luckily, he met drummer Christopher Burt, bassist David Montrose and saxophonist Brooks Hiatt to join him. Leading up to the pandemic, Le Dad played at Velour every few months. They had a show booked at Salt Lake City Urban Lounge in March that was cancelled due to COVID-19. However, Le Dad has been busy making music for the future and live streaming on @qlty.vibe, an Instagram account and company dedicated to promoting creatives in all fields.
Currently, Le Dad has been working hard on their upcoming album Nweirb, which is an acronym for Nowhere Else I’d Rather Be. The name, Teerlink says, is a rule to live by.
“Wherever you are, have a goal of being able to say that there’s ‘nowhere else I’d rather be than right here, wherever that is.’ Kind of live your life in that way.”
Teerlink describes Le Dad’s music as having a ’70s retro sound, incorporating modern capabilities with studio, instruments and software.
“I put a lot of work into my songs….My songs write themselves with time,” Teerlink sa. “idWe’re focusing on making sure the recording and the production can do the songs justice to get the message across.”
The album will feature lots of love songs, as well as others inspired by introspective and thought-provoking questions that Teerlink has in mind.
One song, “I won’t wait” shares the message of telling the people around you that you care about them. Teerlink said he wrote it with his parents in mind, and it has especially become a tribute to his late father, who passed away shortly after it was written.
Another piece, “That ’70s Song”, is also inspired by his parents, specifically their relationship.
Le Dad is anticipating an October release for their first single, “Nweirb”. They currently plan to release five singles until the album drops . The whole album is expected to have thirteen songs.
In addition to livestreams, Le Dad recently played at bass player Montrose’s wedding. After practicing a lot of ’70s music such as Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire, Bread and Jackson 5, they’ve put some thought into eventually putting together a skate night concert. They would like to create other DIY shows, such as a rap battle night. Le Dad is hoping to find ways to involve the rest of the art community, including painters and graphic designers.
Teerlink said it’s definitely hard to not be able to perform.
“I want my songs to be heard by as many people as possible…not to crave fame and glory….I have these songs I put a lot of work into and I think people would enjoy them. It’s hard to expand your audience without live shows. [They’re] great tools in reaching fans and supporters,” he said.
Although he loves performing, his strongest moments of connection to music have been during rehearsals with his band and other fellow musicians. He said that now is a great way for musicians to adapt and find a way to give back to their fans. Teerlink thinks this is a great time for artists to dive into their inspiration and artistry, and he looks forward to the great albums that will come out once this pandemic is over.
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Cross Box Corset
Through Facebook Messenger, Mark Vance, Bryn Davies and Justin Tyme of Cross Box Corset sat across from me. They were at Bryn’s house, lounging on her couch, Vance occasionally snacking on some treats he had on hand. The atmosphere was chill and friendly, they laughed several times during the interview. The group is clearly very close, which plays a huge role in their success. The three of them have been friends since high school, and that foundation is what makes Cross Box Corset work so well.
The band has a really great communication style that allows them to work through their ideas well. They are able to easily suggest things to each other and help push each other to be the best they can be.
Two of them are UVU students — Vance, the drummer, is a junior studying psychology and Davies is fittingly working toward a degree in digital audio production. Tyme doesn’t attend UVU, but dedicates himself to the art of bass guitar.
When the lockdown hit, the band couldn’t practice for two months. They still used the time to bounce ideas off of each other and share music. Luckily, right before the pandemic happened the band had a good run of a live show at The Rise in Orem and released their first single, “Innocent” April 3.
As restrictions have lightened, Cross Box Corset still haven’t had access to their regular practice space. Although Tyme and Davies still practice bass and guitar together, Vance hasn’t been able to touch the drums much. Usually, the band could be found in UVU’s Noorda practice rooms at least twice a week, playing from seven till the school closed. Although practices aren’t functioning the way they normally do, Cross Box Corset is still pushing themselves to stay attuned with their creativity.
Tyme has been working on his solo EP, with some help from Davies on mixing and mastering. The EP will be called JustiSigilou andthe Mansion — a fun reference to the game Luigi’s Mansion.
Next month, the group plans on recording two more songs, and hopes to have their first album out by the end of the year or the beginning of 2021. It will be titled A Mental Occasion and recorded through Aggressive Audio in Salt Lake City. Davies said the songs are lyrically dark sometimes, with upbeat music. Many times, they’ll finish the music of the song, then she will add the lyrics. Davies describes the songs as coming from her own experiences, and explained that she gives the lyrics a lot of thought to make sure they convey what she wants them to well.
Regarding the pandemic, the band offered advice for other musicians to help them get through this strange time.
“It’s important to find those small practice moments. Listen to music every day and get inspired so you’re ready when you can go back,” Davies said. “We constantly share music with each other. It’s a super interesting time to learn more about music.”
To add to that, Vance recommended adding those inspirational songs to a playlist, so they’re easier to remember and come back to.
Tyme said it’s important to keep up on practice and stay in touch with others in the scene. The band also said right now is a perfect time to experiment and push your limits. They said if there’s a time to try new things you wouldn’t have thought of before, now is perfect for that.
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Noah Garcia, the lead of the psychedelic garage rock band The Djinn, opened up about his experiences with music and the pandemic.
Right before the pandemic hit, the Djinn were on a 4-5 month hiatus to focus on finishing their first album. It’s been three years since the release of their EP Happy Valley, and now they’re looking forward to releasing tons of music in the future. Near the end of their hiatus, when their album was closer to completion, they decided to start looking toward playing shows again. Just as they were planning for that, COVID-19 entered the U.S., shutdowns were put into place and concerts seemed even further away than before. However, it hasn’t set them back. The Djinn decided to take this time to really focus on preparing multiple music projects for the future.
Garcia said that because of the hiatus and then COVID-19, a lot of people thought The Djinn broke up and didn’t tell anybody. But instead, it’s the opposite. They’re working hard to come back stronger than before, and hope that the new album will show people where their focus was aimed these past few months.
The Djinn’s main project, their first full-length album, is expected to have ten songs. Some artists Garcia would attribute as influences are The Beatles, Captain Beefheart, The Ronettes and the Murmaids.
Back when they recorded their EP in 2017, The Djinn went through a batch of songs to determine which would be best on Happy Valley and their first album. As the years went on, they started adding more to the overall layout of the album and tried to think of how they wanted to relate it to other their other projects.
The first album will be a mix of songs they’ve had since the beginning, including ones Garcia wrote even before The Djinn and others that came into fruition a little afterwards. Garcia said that the band has been trying to take earlier songs that are more simplistic and younger sounding, and produce them in a way that it all flows and works together better..
In 2018, they recorded parts of the album in June Audio and in 2019, more in Studio Dada. According to Garcia, the main parts are ready. Gage Despain, The Djinn’s guitarist, has been producing it, compiling all the songs and getting them semi-mixed. The entire album will be mixed and mastered by Nesey Gallons from Elephant 6 Recording Company.
“As we all got older and started growing into music and writing, and performing, we researched more about occult lore and stuff like that. We started incorporating that into our lyrics,” Garcia said. “We work pretty well together. We are pretty big fans of weird music in general, we get along pretty well. We are just fans of having fun with what we’re doing.”
Garcia says a lot of his lyrical inspirations extends from personal experience and describing even the small moments. He says he is influenced by writers and lyricists that can use their words and descriptions to create vivid imagery in their audience’s heads, like The Davies Brothers from The Kinks.
Many of his lyrics have been drawn from personal life, including leaving the church he grew up in, love and even minute details that draw his attention. One song, “Oh Geneva”, was written about the Geneva Factory he could see from his window in his old house in Lindon. Another song, “The Sparrow”, which fans might recognize from live shows, was inspired from that time of year between fall and winter where it begins snowing, but it’s not quite full on winter yet.
Garcia says when writing music, it’s important to remember who you’re making it for.
“You’re making your art for you, that’s the most important thing. Even if nobody listens to anything you put out ever, you’ve made the world better by putting that art in the ground,” Garcia said. “Whatever you do, especially now, don’t get hung up on what other people think your art should be.”
Most importantly, during this pandemic, he hopes that everybody is doing okay.
This story is part one of a two-part series. Check out the rest here!