Photo by Tonje Thilesen
Quarantine Diaries: Alt-Pop Act Victoria Reed Is Dancercising To Spice Girls & Watching The Great British Baking Show"
As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, alt-pop singer Victoria Reed, whose new album Aquamadre is out on April 24th via Fisica Moderna Records/ AWAL, shares her Quarantine Diary.
Today is day 17 of self-quarantining here in Mexico City. I returned home from the U.S. earlier this month, after spending some time in L.A. just as things were getting serious there, and made the decision to lock-in upon arrival.
It’s definitely an interesting and challenging time to be a musician, not to mention to be putting out a record, and yet the same could be said for literally everybody in the world right now. It’s an interesting and challenging time to be a human, and for many the challenges are far more dire than anything I'm currently dealing with. So it’s hard to get hung up on any personal or career dramas when your heart is busy breaking for all of the suffering and collective grief being experienced right now. Maybe that’s one good thing, albeit ironic, to come of all of this for me personally so far.
So here I am, finding myself feeling especially grateful for all of the sweetness in my life, not the least of which being the lovely little home that I get to stow away in with my husband Erik, who just happens to be one of my favorite musical collaborators as well. What luck! We moved to Mexico City from Brooklyn just over a year ago, and are fortunate enough to have a home studio, countless instruments, lots of sunlight and no shortage of food or skills in the kitchen. It’s been a lot of finding new routines and also sinking in deeper to the helpful ones I’ve already got.
Life has been pretty full throttle for the last few years, with staying at home or in one place for more than a few weeks being almost unheard of, so I’m taking advantage of this time to get a little more grounded, a little more rooted, and maybe to even take a breath every once in a while… if I can stay away from the news for long enough...
Sunday, March 29
[8 a.m.–10 a.m] Daydreaming and more dreaming
Though I often wake up around 6 a.m. and lay in bed journaling, writing poems, responding to texts and emails, and dreaming up master plans, I am a notoriously late riser and will almost always fall back asleep by 8 a.m. for another solid four to five hours. Today was no exception.
[10 a.m.–12 p.m] Letting in the light
The first thing I do when I open my eyes, before even rolling over or sliding up my sleep mask, is my daily meditation practice. I begin with a 10-minute mindfulness meditation from Headspace and follow with a tapping meditation that I adapted from a method I learned in therapy. I find it really eases the transition between the dream world and waking life, and helps me to begin my day from a grounded, peaceful space—great for getting ahead of any pesky feelings of impending doom and especially helpful during times of global crisis, where some days waking up feels more like waking up in a weird bad dream.
Afterward, I fling open the windows for a mini yoga moment. This is a new addition to my usual routine. Moving my body feels like heaven, the purple Jacaranda trees are blooming in Mexico City right now, and we’re lucky enough to have one right outside of our bedroom window. It’s been feeling like an extra special gift these past couple weeks.
[12 p.m.–1 p.m.] Pancakes, Spanish practice and Charles Ives: Symphony No:1
Been on a big pancake kick lately! And lucky for me, Erik has been making them for me on demand almost every day since we’ve been locked in. Whatta gem! He’s also gotten into a cute little morning (read: afternoon) routine of studying Spanish in the living room while listening to classical records. Today I decided to join him.
Though we’ve been living here for over a year, and my Spanish is getting there, all of the travel back and forth and touring in the U.S. makes it a bit difficult to really get to the next level. So now that all we’ve got is time, it feels like a good opportunity to go a bit deeper. Though with near zero social contact at the moment, we’re definitely missing out on the whole real-life application element!
[1 p.m.–4 p.m.] Testing, testing
For the first time in my life I have a proper home studio and it’s been a total game changer… not to mention, a major asset for a quarantine! It's where we recorded all but one song on the record, and having it has really supported my creativity and musical evolution in exciting ways.
I’ve been a bit wary of buying too much into the idea that we should all be using this time to be even more productive than usual (if there’s ever been a time where it seems we’re being nudged by the universe to slow down and take a breath this certainly seems to be it). So, though I’ve been plenty inspired, I’ve also made a deal with myself not to force anything. But today I felt particularly amped up to experiment with potential setups for the livestream album release show I'm planning. I had to make the call to reschedule all my spring tour dates pretty much the day before I was finally getting to announce them, which was obviously a huge disappointment, but alas! The show must go on!
I also spent some time casing the apartment, testing the light for a music video I’m planning on filming for my next single. I was supposed to film something last week in Detroit with an amazing director friend of mine, but had to call off the shoot, so I’ve decided to go D.I.Y. and film it myself.
[4 p.m.–6 p.m.] Golden hour on the roof
In non-quarantine times, we usually spend our afternoon freetime taking long meandering walks around the city, soaking up all the beauty, inspiration and amazing food this city has to offer, so we’ve never really spent much time up on our rooftop. But last week we realized what a thing it is to have any outdoor space at all right now, and have been spending the last hours of daylight up there almost every day since.
It’s a warm, beautiful day, as is usually the case in CDMX. Erik does the New York Magazine crossword and listens to the Bill Simmons podcast. I lounge about, tuning in and out, chiming in with a crossword answer here and there. I admit to him that I’m actually kind of enjoying the quiet calm in the air, however eerie, and shortly thereafter I’m totally struck by how audible and all encompassing the sound of the birds chirping around us is. "Are they usually this loud?" I ask.
A perfect breeze accompanies a perfect peachy pink sunset and for a brief moment all feels strangely right in the midst of all that is so horribly wrong right now.
[6 p.m.–8 p.m.] DANCERCISE!
There have been a seemingly infinite amount of great livestream workouts to tune into at any given moment of the day, and yet, I’ve really been into just going freeform and dancercising my heart out! Every other night or so I’ve been setting up shop in front of the massive full length mirror in my bedroom, turnin' down the lights, shutting the door and blasting what has now become a passionately curated playlist of '90s bangers. Think: Spice Girls deep cuts, Cher, Toni Braxton, Haddaway, Aqua, Destiny’s Child… all the greats.
I've been finding it so comforting, freeing, and grounding in all the sweetest ways. It really conjures up feelings of going full on, all out in my childhood bedroom back in the day, coming up with these totally extra dance routines as if it was my life’s work and Geri Halliwell herself was watching—and I’m also reminded of this very specific feeling of kind of hoping my parents or sister would walk in and see how fly I was, yet feeling super embarrassed, shameful and woefully caught of guard anytime they actually did.
Tonight I put my hair in double buns for added effect.
[8 p.m.–11 p.m.] Vino naranja, a perfect pasta, and night owl shenanigans...
I love to cook, but cooking and planning special dinners each night has been bringing Erik so much joy lately, and has proven to be a real bright spot in his quarantine doldrums, so we’ve kind of got an unspoken agreement going where he’s been handling the cooking each night. He’s an excellent cook, so not a bad deal for me at all! Tonight he made a bolognese that can only be described as perfect, and we savoured an amazing bottle of natural orange wine that we had delivered from our friend’s restaurant in the neighborhood. I drink a glass (or at least a few sips) of wine pretty much every night of my life, quarantine or no quarantine, but this was a special treat.
To be honest, I probably haven’t gone to bed before 2 a.m. in over a year, so whereas most people might be winding down at this point (I think?), I’m just getting going! Tonight’s activities ended up including: an impromptu couples songwriting session at the piano, a heavy duty tarot check-in, about an hour’s worth of family facetimes, a cookie break on the deck looking up at the moon, a long leisurely shower, writing this journal entry, and lastly, "The Great British Baking Show"—to put one in a good headspace before bed, of course.
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