Photo by Natalie Sparaccio
Quarantine Diaries: Best Ex Singer Mariel Loveland Is Playing Ukulele & Watching Brad Mondo Hair Videos
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, Mariel Loveland of Brooklyn indie-pop outfit Best Ex, whose new EP Good At Feeling Bad drops on May 22, shares her Quarantine Diary.
I've been quarantined in the suburbs of New Jersey for about a month now, and the first two weeks were definitely an adjustment. My mother more or less kidnapped me from Brooklyn—seriously, she said I didn’t have a choice and she was showing up at my door to get me regardless. I packed my bag and 45 minutes later she was there, mask in tow. That's an Italian mama for ya. At that point, I had a cough (which has since proved to be uniquely bad seasonal allergies) and was so terrified about potentially getting her sick that I stayed in the basement for 14 days without ever coming upstairs except to grab a plate of food. After the 14 days, we picked up my grandmother from Long Island, and the three of us have been holed up together. There are lots of meatballs, lots of friendly bickering (particularly when we can’t hear the rest of our family on our insane 20-person Zoom chats), and so much "90 Day Fiance" and "Vanderpump Rules."
Though I have a tendency to catastrophize matters of the heart, I like to think I'm pretty rock solid with actual disasters. To be honest, I don't really feel the impending sense of dread my friends feel. At least not yet. I feel safe inside. My family is healthy, and though it is a bit lonely, it really only feels like life is on pause. I’m trying to welcome this break, with the thought I may never have one again. Of course, I’d be lying if I wasn’t bummed about my album's release. I was working on it for the last two years, and now that it’s finally coming out, the entire music industry is shut down. Two weeks before N.Y.C. basically closed, we had just started practicing our new setup as a duo. I had just pulled the trigger on planning a U.K. and European tour. We had West Coast and Midwest dates in talks and hometown shows slated for this month. That’s all indefinitely on hold, and when this blows over, I need to evaluate when and if I can still afford those tours after all the financial losses this thing has caused me.
Anyway, my days as of late have been quiet and creative. I’m lucky to get to spend so much time with my mom and grandma, and I feel blessed I get to wake up every day and write.
Wednesday, April 8
[10:30 a.m.–11 a.m.] Peeling my eyelids open
I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I’m a fully functioning adult who regularly gets out of bed after 11 if I don’t have anything else to do. I stayed up until about 1:30 a.m. watching the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen on YouTube and woke up this morning with a raging headache and a song in my head. I sing the melody into my voice notes and don't get up until my mom texts me that the coffee maker is turning off. It's go time (unless I want iced coffee).
[11 a.m.–1:45 p.m.] Flipping between news stations
I'm normally someone who spends a lot of the day reading news, op-eds and essays. The coronavirus outbreak has made this (probably unhealthy addiction) even worse. In Brooklyn, where I don't have cable TV, I usually read The Guardian or the New York Times, but my mother has the luxury of cable news. Particularly, Fox News, which I like to watch and purposely anger myself enough to yell at Tucker Carlson through the screen. Like every other day, we watch Andrew Cuomo's briefing while I eat a scone (I tried my hand at baking a couple days ago) and an orange. We've been joking through this whole thing that he’s my mom's boyfriend. Andrew, please be my stepdad? Is your brother single, too? Oh my god, I’ve been trapped in this house too long.
[1:45 p.m.–2:30 p.m. ] I meant to work out but it didn't happen
I'm not really one to ever work out. In fact, my family hysterically laughed when I told them I had started jogging. So far, I've done it three days in a row, but today my entire body hurt, and I was tired. I went downstairs to shower and change into running clothes, but that never happened. Instead, I started trying out a makeup tutorial from GiGi Hadid’s makeup artist, and it looked terrible on me. I had to wash off my whole face and try something else. At this time, I also texted my roommate at home to see how my plants are doing. It’s looking pretty iffy at the moment. We’re not really green thumbs.
[2:30 p.m.–5 p.m.] Time to sing and time to write
This quarantine has finally helped lift my months-long writer’s block, though I haven’t yet written the song. I feel like I’m on the brink of it. My mind probably won’t let it happen until everything I’ve already recorded is finally released, but I’m going to keep trying anyway. I played the voice memo from this morning. It’s kind of rubbish—or at least I don’t have a good place for it yet. I played through some other stuff I’ve written in the last two weeks and rehearsed a song I may sing at my brother’s wedding. I feel more nervous to sing at his wedding than I did singing in front of an entire stadium, so I don’t know if I’m going to go through with it.
I’ve also been teaching myself ukulele. The world could always use a new ukulele song, and somehow, I found the one instrument my tiny hands feel too big for. I sing "Can’t Help Falling In Love" to an audience of my cat using her litter box. I've had worse crowds.
[5 p.m.–8:45 p.m.] Dinner and a movie
I go upstairs and instead of going on a run, I take my cat outside and sit in the rocking chair on the porch with her. She hisses at me, so I throw her back inside before she starts scratching and start watching TV with my mom and grandma. Eventually, we pick the film Hall Pass, which I’ve somehow never seen, and it’s exactly the kind of movie I needed to see at this moment. We also order dinner from our favorite Indian place. It’s quite exciting considering it was my grandmother’s first time eating Indian food.
[8:45 p.m.–1:45 a.m.] Writing, writing, writing
Besides being a songwriter, I’m a writer writer. I swore during this quarantine that I’d finally write my poetry book, but I'm not really loaded with inspiration just sitting in a basement all day. I have some other stuff to finish anyway. Like most nights when I’m winding down, I make some tea (with biscuits of course) before I get to it. I write a bit and do some research for a piece I’m writing tomorrow. I like doing that before bed, so when I wake up, it’s all laid out for me.
After that, I watch YouTube until I pass out. I've been really liking Brad Mondo's hair videos, and it tempted me enough to dye my hair pink during quarantine. My roots are hopeless anyway. Beyond that, I’ve just been watching people try on things from clothing stores that I wish I could shop in right now. One day, hopefully sooner than later, I’ll get to buy cute new clothes for a cute new date and go to a cute old bar. Or maybe I’ll get to pick out a tour outfit. I love dressing up for shows, but until then, I’ve got my music, my words and my sweatpants.
If you wish to support our efforts to assist music professionals in need, learn more about the Recording Academy's and MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.
If you are a member of the music industry in need of assistance, visit the MusiCares website.