I sent a few questions to folks I know in the music industry to see how they’re adapting to the change and challenges of 2020. I’ll be sharing bits of the interviews in an article for the Piedmont Lifestyle Magazines, but the full responses were too important (educational, authentic) not to share in their entirety. I’ll be posting them here, on Write-Songs.com.
The first interview I’ll share is with Andy Valenti of DC-based indie soul band Oh He Dead. Read about them in the Washington Post by clicking here. I met Andy opening for another one of his projects, The Young Birds, at Songbyrd Music House in Washington, DC.
Maddi: What plans did y’all have for Oh He Dead in 2020?
Andy: You know, we had some ambitious goals for 2020, like “learn how to make sourdough bread” and “watch every single show on Netflix,” so things are going just as we hoped! Just kiddin’. 2020 has been surreal. In early March, the band flew to LA to meet with executives at talent and publishing agencies. It was really a “dream come true” movie moment for us. We had begun planning an international tour for most of 2020. We were literally in a meeting with a touring agent when he got the call that SXSW had been cancelled. I’ll never forget the look on his face.
Maddi: How did the pandemic impact those plans?
Andy: All plans for live shows have been postponed to 2021. Fingers crossed we can get our act together by then – and that music venues will still exist. If you like live music, please consider supporting independent venues at SaveOurStages.com.
Maddi: How have y’all adapted? How have you re-directed your energy?
Andy: We sensed pretty early on that the world of live music was going to change. We started doing “Jammy Jamz,” a live stream concert series every Tuesday and Friday, as a way to scratch the performance itch, and stay in touch with our fans. Obviously, interacting through screens is far from ideal, but it was nice to have some direct conversations and build relationships with the people who support us.
Like many other artists, we have shifted focus to songwriting for the year. I’m thrilled with how productive we have been. We put out our first album in November (available wherever you stream your music), and we already have enough songs for another 2 albums. My guitarist, Alex, has been on fire lately. He has been sending new song ideas every single day. When he does, I try to send him a new idea back. We get competitive about it. I feel like our creative flame has never been brighter. And we’ve gotten way better at collaborating remotely. I sucked at technology when this all started. Now, I only sorta suck!
Separately, we have been studying how to be anti-racist, and we encourage everyone to do the same. Ibram X. Kendi’s books have fundamentally changed the way I see the world. It would be wonderful if our generation was responsible for ending racism in America.
Maddi: Any words on the importance of music in our communities, especially during challenging times?
“Art should comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable” – Cesar A. Cruz
Support your favorite local artists. Buy their merch. If you like their music, share it with your friends who you think will like it too. For example, one of my favorite local artists, a folk songstress named Maddi Mae, just put out a pretty stunning debut EP. You should check it out.
When you’re trying to build a band business, every little thing counts.
Hope everyone is hanging in there. Hold each other tight, if they’re in your quarantine crew. If not, stay 6 feet away. Air hugs only, for now. 🙂
Thanks to Andy for these candid responses. Support Oh He Dead by following them on social media and listening to their debut self-titled album (links below).