These are strange times. How can musicians respond to this unprecedented crisis? Musically, of course!
Here at PROLE JAZZ we asked our favourite musicians from Sheffield town to write and record a song during their lockdown. We’ve compiled these incredible tunes and have just released Now that’s what I call Quarantine Vol 1: Lockdown Anthems, a collection of 20 songs from across the musical galaxy of this fine city. It features sonic contributions from musicians from bands like Oh Papa, Life Aquatic Band, Winston Macabre, Yo Dynamo, King Capisce, Mango Rescue Team, All Girls Arson Club, Captain Avery & the Cosmic Triceratops of Intergalactic Peace, Potpourri, Dead Slow Hoot, Mzyklypop and Regal Worm.
The compilation is out now on Bandcamp! Listen/download here!
It’s pay as you feel, so download for free if you’re skint & if you can afford to spare a few quid all donations will go to Foodhall Sheffield to support their amazing work providing emergency food parcels to those in need around the city during the covid pandemic.
In this article, we asked contributors to tell us a bit about their songs, and Foodhall to tell us about their work during covid. But first, the track list…
Now that’s what I call Quarantine Vol.1: Lockdown Anthems
- Keep Breathing ~ Life Aquatic Band
- Quarantine Song (demo) ~ Oh Papa
- Dearly Departed ~ Potpourri
- Roly Poly ~ Leavey Greene
- Get Well Soon ~ Conor Nutt
- Love in the Time of Corona ~ Captain Jack Avery
- We Don’t Know ~ Rek Law
- Ancient Bones ~ Mzylkypop w. Regal Worm
- We Never Know ~ Oren Dji
- Love for All (A Prayer) ~ Jimmy
- Lothario Scenario ~ Superneutral
- Goodies (Zero is a Number) ~ DIMITRI
- Dark Pockets (demo) ~ Dead Slow Hoot
- Blacksmith’s Bellows ~ R. Loomes
- Waging War (demo) ~ Rhiannon Scutt
- Apidistra ~ Oliver Porpoise Firefly
- Fated (demo) ~ ROSH
- Monkey Mind ~ Shapes with Faces
- Remember ~ Lenri
- So ~ Lucky Wreck
Keep Breathing ~ Life Aquatic Band
Hey quarantiners! This is Ben from Life Aquatic Band – we were super excited to be asked to contribute to this compilation, especially in these daunting times. Our tune is one written in Japan by Ben, recorded inside a tiny Japanese apartment just outside of Osaka. Emily and Henry contributed trumpet and bass from their Sheffield homes; that’s across two continents!
In this track we’ve tried to capture this strange transitional period: beginning cooped up in our rooms with our guitars to keep us company. It builds with synthesisers, brass and bass and ends in a positive emotional release. We hope that day comes soon!
Enjoy and stay safe. [Ben, Life Aquatic Band]
Quarantine Song (demo) ~ Oh Papa
I wrote and recorded this song on the same day, the first day of confirmed lockdown. I had a few beers to alleviate my anxiety about the whole shebang, started messing around on my guitar and then thought it was pretty neat that at least we’re all in it together sort of thing. I guess I also wanted to reflect on the idea of being alone for a while. Got nothing fancy in my flat so just recorded all the parts with my acoustic with pretty knackered microphone and voila. [Jack, Oh Papa]
Dearly Departed ~ Potpourri
The song ‘Dearly Departed’ was made last week inspired by my jog around Burngreave Cemetery. Exercising in solitude, I took in the names of the scriptures on the gravestones. My thoughts were with both those who had long passed and with those who have been lost during this pandemic. The repetitive motion of running whilst seeing the hopeful messages chalked on the path calmed my inner voice that was gradually getting louder as the death toll rose. This song is dedicated to anyone who has lost someone in this pandemic, or otherwise. [Lauren, Potpourri]
Roly Poly ~ Leavey Greene
Leavey Greene is the solo project of Alice, lead singer of DIY art-punks All Girls Arson Club. Roly Poly is a beautifully wistful indie daydream, a summer haze, a shimmer of melody and one of my favourite tracks on the album. [Henrik Endor, PROLE JAZZ]
Get Well Soon ~ Conor Nutt
Recorded for his Isolatertainment TV episode, Get Well Soon is a classic tune combining all the hallmarks of this avant-folk beatnik. It’s lyrically clever and poignant and showcases Conor’s warm and soulful vocals. Check out his lockdown TV show (below)! [Henrik Endor, PROLE JAZZ]
Love in the Time of Corona ~ Captain Jack Avery
Love in the Time of Corona is a love song with a five-part harmony outtro and shit lyrics about Tescos. There’s some cosmic cap-doffing to 50s rock ‘n’ roll and Os Mutantes and mbube choral to jazz up what is essentially a 3-chord pop song. It’s a modern take on an old Marquez tale… I recorded it on my iPad with my classical guitar and it started out with loads of daft effects on it but that sounded a bit shit so I took most of them off. I like the challenge of writing songs with a time limit, it forces you to embrace the imperfections in your voice and playing and (for me) the lack of anything resembling studio skills, and focus on the vibration and the raw feeling of the music.
As far as I see it to be a songwriter you have to learn to be a shaman: let intergalactic energies flow through you. You have to become a buzzing conduit of sonic mischief, a channeller of alien power. It’s more like catching butterflies than flying a spaceship. The point at which you realise that these ideas are outside of us all, flitting around like tiny colourful lepidopterans with lives of their own, not bothered one jot about the metaphysics of quality, and that everything created is borrowed, you’ve got the hang of it. [Jack, Cosmic Triceratops]
Ancient Bones ~ Mzylkypop w. Regal Worm
Ancient Bones is a paean and offering to Nature created on the 8th of April 2020 by Mick Somerset and Jarrod Gosling. The flute used is a recreation of a sheep bone flute of the Brigantes people who in pre Roman times controlled the North of England in what is now Yorkshire. A prayer for a New Enlightened Age after the Pandemic of 2020. [Mick Mzylkypop]
We Don’t Know ~ Rek Law
This song has been bouncing around in my head for a while now, and I’ve finally had time to finish it. It was inspired by humanity, and our general lack of common sense, morality, forward planning or cooperation. Homo sapiens have been stumbling around on the face of our planet for over three hundred thousand years, yet we’ve still not reached the stage where we can all play nicely. Don’t get me wrong, people are great. Some of my best friends are people. There are some thoroughly decent human being out there, maybe enough to match or even outnumber the worst amongst us, and there is still scope for us to improve our world, if we want to. Instead of warring and wasting we could be working together to advance humanity; pushing towards Type I civilisation status. The singularity is in reach! Maybe we’ll get there. Maybe we won’t. We don’t know. [Rek Law]
We Never Know ~ Oren Dji
As with most of my songs, We Never Know is about the co-existence of two seemingly opposing ideas. Sometimes, not ever really knowing what’s going to happen next is terrifying and depressing. But at other times, it’s liberating and uplifting. “We never really know”, has been a recurring thought for me in the past 3 weeks so I started writing with that line. I plucked a few notes out and discovered the first few chords. I had a couple of lyric-writing sessions in my shed, thinking about never really knowing what’s going to happen next and how that makes me feel. The words and melody wound around each other til they settled into place. I recorded it as a video on a Kindle Fire coz I’m a techno-phool, and the video is of the jasmine plant in my garden. [Oren Dji]
A Prayer (Love for All) ~ Jimmy
I had a dream where I looked up and I saw the sun exploding. Expanding bursting fireball… We knew that was it, any moment now we were done, all of us, the whole lot, the whole world, everything + everyone, the end, a few moments or minutes and then we’d be gone, up in flames or freezing cosmic winds and darkness, finished. There was myself + 3 friends standing around in a circle, and I reached out + we all embraced and I started us off chanting ‘Love for all + hate for none, love for all + hate for none’, which is what the Ahmadi Muslims say, while we waited for the end to hit us… ‘Love for all + hate for none- love for all + hate for none- love for all + hate for none- love for all + hate for none’- as we chanted and chanted I suddenly woke up- man, I was sweating, I was stunned sister!
That was powerful to me and it has stayed with me, it was a while back, maybe about 2 years or more now, and it is still vivid to me like the memory of experiences I had while what we call ‘awake’.
Bless you, hate for none + love for all! [Jimmy]
Lothario Scenario ~ Superneutral
Nowt teks me fancy after day in t’barn than jingle on me ol’ hotrod gitarr. A sad story of unrequited love from the imagined balconies of Milano, from a fella not so good at love poems and another who dunt know nowt about good courteous bihave-yuh. [Superneutral]
Goodies (Zero Is A Number) ~ DIMITRI
Goodies (Zero Is A Number) is an audio arrangement generated by DIMITRI. All instruments and voices featured were performed by DIMITRI himself during a period of self-imposed reflection, during which time he mainly focused on what it takes to be a number and pondered “can zero ever be a number?” And if so, what is it’s value? For even though it is smaller than one, it still appears visually, even if by means of an admission. The chorus takes inspiration from North American entertainer Ciara. Copyright lawsuit pending… [DIMITRI]
Dark Pockets ~ Dead Slow Hoot
We didn’t really plan to write a plague ballad but we had this guitar part in open D that was hard to structure into a fully fleshed out song in our usual style. It was almost a lost instrumental but when the social distancing measures began to get introduced I wrote 1 and a half verses in one go and then tried to add more to it but just couldn’t distill anything else. I like it better this way in the end, the glockenspiel (added by Dom) really adds a great ambience to the ending and it’s a good exercise to let a song finish itself. Mostly the lyrics were written by fitting words into the melody line but with the goal to express this concept of an avalanche that can’t be contained by any human activity, other than staying out of the way… I managed to write that into the first verse so it got pretty hard to add anything afterwards haha. Were still workshopping the name (hence the ‘demo’) so if you have any suggestions please let us know! [Hugo, Dead Slow Hoot]
Blacksmith’s Bellows ~ R. Loomes
This song happened in between a mammoth recording session. I picked up my acoustic and it just fell out, like a breath of fresh air amidst feeling totally chaotic and heady. I was sat at my desk so just hit record and I did it in one take. The whole process took about an hour and I thoroughly enjoyed it which is incredibly rare for me. It’s one of the lighter tracks off the EP I’ll be releasing next week. [R. Loomes]
Waging war (demo) – Rhiannon Scutt
This is a song about defiance, growth and letting go. Previously an acoustic song written in 2015, Waging War was released on the 2018 live EP#9 featuring multiple musicians. This new lockdown arrangement however has been made in isolation, alone and with limited technology. This reworking is an exploration of how creative and physical constraints can spark a sense of freedom when your usual methods of working are unavailable. [Rhiannon Scutt]
Fated ~ ROSH
I wrote and recorded ‘Fated’ on my ancient 8 track in my attic. It all started with a simple open tuning riff. I wanted the mood to be hushed and intimate. The song is about how every civilization imagined itself eternal, but that dusty ruins are testament that nothing lasts forever. It’s a dark thought for the current crisis, but I wanted to face up to it, despite feeling small in the face of it. This is my modest response to that levelling perspective, a whisper in the dark. [Rosh]
Apidistra ~ Oliver Porpoise Firefly
I was born on horseback on the Argentinian steppes many years ago. I remember the call of the wind and the hot breath of campfires and endless starscapes howling infinity deep into the silence of night above my small head. This song is a metaphor for the loss of freedom we are all experiencing, the closing of the wide wild world into a small, claustrophobic four-walled space… It’s about the lure of being trapped, the sweet seductive known-ness of the prison, the ease and soft luxury of predictability, the incremental vanquishing of the spirit during quarantine… But is this death? Or is it birth? Is this an ending or an awakening? Is the slowing down of our caffeinated, empty-busy lives a catalyst, a way to open up to the prosaic wonderments of the world, an opportunity to become attentive and exist in the incandescence of the moment? Is this enforced limiting a portal to a much truer and more authentic existence than our modern, experience-seeking, insta-junkie selves usually have access to? Of course, like everything, this strange new world is a prison and an escape route simultaneously. It’s ok my friends! We are all fools! The earth spins upon its axis, unperturbed by our fears and frustrations, the birds still sing, the wind still blows. [Oliver Porpoise Firefly]
Monkey Mind ~ Shapes with Faces
Monkey Mind is about being overwhelmed with thoughts as you try to switch off from the world. When we stop being so busy it can seem that our minds go haywire but it’s an illusion – we just have less distracting us so thoughts and feeling rise to the surface. My favourite part of the tune is the layers of synths that take over the track towards the end and the bassline. [Henry, Shapes with Faces]
Ekialde Lendakaria – Remember
Remember is the enigmatic Ekialde’s first release, and it’s a multilingual ukelele-folk sonic treat. He sings of pubs and friends and pre-lockdown life with gusto and feeling. This is an earworm of a song, a future folk classic, and PROLE JAZZ can’t wait to hear more…. [Henrik Endor, PROLE JAZZ]
So ~ Lucky Wreck
Lucky Wreck are a Sheffers two-piece, playing live analogue EDM and trip-hop, drawing influences from anything we think is sick.
Lucky sez: This song came to us a while ago, and was inspired by community, kindness, and enjoying and looking after our world. When Prole Jazz approached us, we felt a corona virus verse necessary! So here it is; sharing is caring. We hope you enjoy it!
Wreck Sez: We recorded this tune live using a couple of synths, a mess of keyboard samples, live percussion, melodica and vox; all fed through a delay pedal and a looper. Lucky provided all of the vocals, melodica and percussion, and I set up the loops and played synths. We had fun, hope you do too. [Lucy, Lucky Wreck]
Usually, Foodhall is a volunteer-powered community centre/cafe/venue/workshop/utopia in the heart of Sheffield city centre. We provide an open space that brings everyone together to share as equals, tackling social isolation, social inequality, food insecurity and food waste.
Since the outbreak of covid-19, we’ve suspended our usual activity, and shifted our focus to the provision of emergency food parcels, creating a helpline for people in need to call and request food or wellbeing support (0114 303 6040). Teams of volunteers are working round the clock collecting donations of food, batch cooking meals, staffing the helpline, making up food parcels, and delivering them around the city. In the past three weeks, we’ve delivered food to over 350 adults and children city-wide, distributing nearly 3,000 meals!
We’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve seen from the community at this time, and are so grateful for all donations people can give. We normally cover our running costs with income from our music events and workshops; with these being suspended for the foreseeable, your donations a real lifeline. You can donate money to us directly by donating for this album, and you can donate food, PPE, and other essential supplies to us directly too. Take a look at our wishlist here to see our most-needed items.
You can get in touch with us or find out more through foodhallproject.org, or finding us on Facebook or Instagram. If you, or anyone you know, is struggling to access food right now, please call 0114 3030 6040.