Isolation Blues: keyboard, conch, homemade single-string guitar, Roli Lightpad, rattles.
Performed by Headzic, aka John Shapter
I am a musician and a performer. When the lockdown was announced in March it felt as though the rug had been pulled out from under me. A gig I had the next week was immediately cancelled, and future venues were shutting their doors, not even answering emails
So it was time to take stock. Right from the beginning, there were positive angles for me to consider. My wife had just been diagnosed with a serious illness requiring major surgery and lockdown meant I was released from other commitments and could spend time caring for her. In many ways, it has been a lovely time spent in each other`s company. We also took stock of our working lives and made decisions that have improved our future prospects, decisions that we might otherwise not have considered. A sort of win-win there.
My regular morning walk with our dog became something to hold onto during this time of uncertainty. The walks got longer and I used the time for introspection. I noticed how the world had changed, with no traffic noise and no low hum of ambient noise from local industries. Even the sounds of people and children seemed to have dimmed. In fact, sometime around mid-May the very earth felt still, a sort of beautiful calmness.
I had been struggling with developing my music for some time too, to the point of being in complete denial about the lack of income from this side of my life. I think it was Robert Fripp who said in an interview that “a musician needs to have a relationship with his music. A good musician needs a relationship with his fans. However, a successful musician needs to have a relationship with the music industry as well.”
So, I took this opportunity to enroll in a course covering the business of music. If I wasn`t able to perform, then what better use could I make of my time? I am on a steep learning curve that has opened my eyes to a lot of opportunities I have been missing. Another win-win.
Nonetheless, I am still compelled to perform. so I have joined the band wagon of online streaming from home. One manifestation of this was a few weeks of “Radio Headzic,” in which I streamed a weekly live audio program of my own music and that of friends. I was still feeling the frustration of isolation during lockdown and during one of those programs I performed a live improvisation on the theme of isolation.
The inspiration was the quiet rhythms of isolation, the background to the emotions of those affected by COVID-19–the confusion, the loss, the fears that all coalesce into the background track of our minds. Not bad, not frightening, just the background to everything we`ve done over the last few months.
Art by June Shapter
Copyright © 2020 John Shapter
Headzic, aka John Shapter, is a UK-based composer and performer of ambient and electronic experimental music, whose work is contemplative and atmospheric. His work has been influenced by his time as a clinician, a sound artist and an esoteric performer.