Every week, we ask a different local artist to provide their unique perspective on the pandemic experience from a musician’s point of view. Through words, video and music, each musician will share their story, along with an audio or video sample of a recent project, and a link to purchase their music so that you can support their work.
This week, Jesse Ryan talks about releasing a CD during a pandemic, feeling grateful for the "little things", and an exciting new project.
"The last couple months have been very interesting to say the least. They've been full of various challenges but also with lots of personal and creative growth. As a creative person I draw inspiration from everything; the good, the bad and the in-between. Like most musicians in the city I’ve lost a lot of work as a performer and struggled with staying motivated. However, I’ve also used some of the time to finish and release my debut recording, "Bridges", which was released on December 4, 2020 on my indie label Fwé Culture. Releasing an album during the pandemic has had its own challenges. I couldn’t have an in-person release concert so I did an online release on YouTube and I’m still developing a strategy for promoting the album online as selling CDs at live shows like I originally would have hoped isn't possible. I’ve also diversified my creative work and delved more into my work as a graphic designer. I’d say I split my time about 60/40 between music and design now and that has been a great creative outlet and income booster.
There have been so many lessons during this time that it's hard to choose one, and because things keep changing the opportunities to apply the insight from lessons learnt seem to shift as well. Living through a time when so many people are dying, experiencing lack and stress has seemed to remind me to be grateful for the “little things'' - food, shelter, good health, family and friends and for me, opportunities to be creative. Everything else beyond that is a bonus. Gratitude has been keeping me healthy mentally, along with being adaptable and willing to learn new things. Whether it's design, business, new musical concepts, history, or your neighbour's experiences - keep learning.
I’ve been working on a suite of music for large ensemble called the “Virtues Suite” that I hope to premier later in the year. I plan to collaborate with a Toronto based choir and string quartet as well as my own Celestial Fix quintet for the performance. I’ve chosen the transcendent ideas of death, forgiveness, adversity, peace, gratitude, joy, and folly (yes, folly lol) as the seven “virtues” for the suite. Having the time to write new music has been great and I really think the ideas the music presents can help everyone get through these challenging times."
Support Jesse by purchasing his music from Bandcamp. And watch Jesse's unique approach to an online CD release event below: