By Alice Butterlin

Most of the world has been in lockdown for over a month now due to the COVID-19 crisis. A moment frozen in time, when people are faced with solitude, grief or anxiety and see their daily lives shift for the better or the worse. In this time of extreme uncertainty, we can also take the time to reflect, create and enjoy the passing of these strange elastic days. We thought it would be interesting to ask musicians around the globe how their creative process has changed during the quarantine and if it has been an inspiring or rather daunting experience… with a quick snapshot of themselves in lockdown. Here we get some insight from French musician Perez who has helped shape a new form of pop music through his intricate blending of nostalgic melodies and futuristic vision. Rubbing shoulders with the art world, some of his songs have actually been composed specially for exhibitions like his latest track, “Coma Coloris Vif”, a soft and luscious ballad, weightless, set somewhere in an imaginary cosmos. His latest album Surex, released last February, with its feeling of delicious unease, urgency and chopped otherworldly sounds, feels like his masterpiece. Have a listen and discover how he spends his time right now.

How has your daily life changed since lockdown began?

The first few weeks of lockdown didn’t affect me very much because I’m lucky enough to have a music studio in my apartment and I’m used to working there every day. But of course, the more time passes, the more I miss the social outlets I had before: being able to chat with friends and fellow artists or just getting a change of scenery. I get the impression that a lot of people already hated how big a role digital technology plays in our lives even before this situation, and the current context only reinforces that sentiment. It’s a strange mix of ultra-connectivity and loneliness.

Have you changed the way you create?

In a sense yes, because it seems important to me to make things that give meaning to our lived experience, and that takes a certain amount of experimenting and incorporating the unknown that we are facing into our creative process. But the methods I use, namely musical and writing, are still the same.

Have you realized anything during this time?

Quite a lot, yes. I did two covers of songs that mean a lot to me and that seem to resonate with the situation: “Quand la ville dort” by Niagara and “Ô Superman” by Laurie Anderson. I performed a set in my studio for a festival called Je Reste à la Maison. I had an entire setup of LED lights in my 5 square meter studio, and it almost gave me a seizure. I also take part in Radio Pantin (https://www.mixcloud.com/RADIOPANTIN93/), kind of a dada project by some friends of mine. I do tutorials on how to write French songs. It’s called Variet’Cocotte and it’s a great way to relieve stress. Finally, I created an Instagram account with my girlfriend that records people’s dreams under lockdown. We get some very funny and some very scary things. It’s super interesting to see what the unconscious produces in this very strange time, and it makes us feel good to feel a connection to others through the imagination (https://www.instagram.com/reveursconfines). I’m also hoping that next month will bring some new collaborations.

Are you worried?

More uncertain than worried, which I imagine is how a lot of people are feeling. It’s like there was a coin toss but the coin is just hanging in the air and you don’t know which side it’s going to fall on. I think we’re all wondering how things will turn out once this situation is behind us. What are we going to do afterwards? Collectively, I mean.

Do you feel more inspired or paralyzed by the lockdown?

So far, I find it rather inspiring. I’m well aware that I’m privileged, because I think that for many people this situation is difficult economically, socially and psychologically.

Have you started or returned to any activities that you do not normally have time to do?

I admit I wasn’t a big fan of exercising at home, but I had to suck it up and start doing it because it does a lot of good. I cook a lot more than I used to, as well, which I’m not mad about. As for the rest – movies, books, music – not much has changed for me.

What lessons do you think you will learn from this shutdown?

At the moment, it seems hard for me to have any perspective on what we’re living through. The images I’ve seen of big deserted cities still seem unreal to me. I really hope that we’ll learn something from this that will force us to make profound changes. My greatest fear is that we will come out of this saying that it was all just a bad dream and that no lessons will be learned from it.

What do you think life after lockdown will be like?

I hope this unprecedented event will put pressure on the political world so that wealth distribution and ecology become the cornerstones of our future social projects. Until we are out of this crisis and know how much it has changed people, it seems impossible to say whether this is just a naive dream or if there is reason to be optimistic.

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